“For the 8th time in my career, I’ve witnessed the power of the Olympic spirit, not just on the field, but in the ability to unite people from across the globe. We come together, work together and find our common ground as humans, despite our language, culture, religion, etc. The fear, concern and safety of visiting Russia was replaced over the past couple weeks with smiles from thousands of volunteers, including one man I met when I first arrived, who said to me in broken English, “This is the new Russia and I hope you enjoy your visit. We are open to the world and we welcome you.” I felt that and I will be back to Russia. You should come see for yourself.
Cosmopolitan is a word that fits what I experienced here in the mountains above Sochi, Russia. I stayed in Krasnaya Polanya and it’s only a 5-minute walk away from Gorky Gorod Mall with more than 10 restaurants and bars. The mall is not only home to several brand name stores, but there is also an indoor beach on top floor with sands imported all the way from Dubai! You have to see the wave pool, water park and volleyball courts. It’s simply amazing!
After a little shopping, take a 5-minute cab ride to Rosa Khutor to visit the chic ski town built for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The choices for hotel, restaurants and bars are on par with any modern ski town in the world. The ski lifts were engineered by the Austrians and my fellow broadcast ski buddies tell me that the runs up top are picturesque and ridiculously beautiful.
The tourist season is shorter this year. Rosa Khutor’s trails were reserved for both the Olympics and Paralympics through March 17. The ski resort will be completely open next winter, so this is the time to plan next year’s vacation.
If you can fly 14 hours from LA to Sydney, 16 hours from Atlanta to Johannesburg; then you can take the 9-hour trip from NYC to Moscow. Then head to Sochi and take the train up the mountains to ski where dozens of 2014 Winter Olympians made history. It’s well worth the trip!
When making your travel plans, you must stay at the brand new state-of-the-art, 5-star Sochi Marriott Krasnaya Polyana Hotel. It is simply beautiful and mirrors the Stalinist architecture as the shopping areas surrounding it. In my first blog, I shared the inside of my room and how comfortable and accommodating it was—even for my 6’-5” frame. The staff was so hospitable offering everything right at your fingertips. I had to send a tweet to Marriott to thank them myself. They responded!
In my final blog next week after I return to Sochi to cover the 2014 Paralympics for NBC, I will share my travel experience in Adler, Sochi’s Coastal Cluster, where all of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games’ Speed Skating events were held.
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