Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 61: Sochi Russia

Before we’d left the bonded area of the port yesterday the Captain of the Princess Victoria, having seen us still sitting on the dock with our bikes, had come to me and with his huge beaming face alight with life had clasped his arms around me and said ‘Geoff, .. Russian Vodka I love, … Russian Girls I Love, …. Russian Women I Love, … but Russian laws are shit, ….. welcome to Russia Comrade’.

When arriving in Russia your visa must be registered with the authorities within 24 hours, but exactly why and with which authorities we have absolutely no idea. Why this couldn’t have happened while we twiddled our thumbs on the docks waiting for the bikes to be unloaded is anybodies guess, …. but rules are rules.

The simplest way to register the visa is to stay in a hotel for two nights and they will register it for you. We’re currently residing at Sochi’s ‘Hotel Moscow’, a relic of a bygone age that has remained unaffected by the dramatic changes happening all around. Nothing quite fits or works, everything is ‘uniform’, small is the only size and you honestly do get the feeling that you’re constantly being watched. In a weird and unexplainable way this place is totally fantastic and a big thank you to Giya who is paying for it.

As a city, Sochi is really not quite as expected. No matter how many times you see this city on news reels (Recently visited by George Bush and home to the 2014 Winter Olympics) you kind of still expect to see it in black and white, …. everything a pale shade of grey. Thankfully it’s anything but that. It’s a seaside resort, former home to Stalin’s summer dacha and ‘Riviera’ for Russia’s rich and stylish, …. it is quite simply stunning. The wide boulevards are filled to capacity with every kind of vehicle, the nightlife and restaurants are vibrant and with the exception of motorcycle tyres, ….. everything is available. In other developing cities I’ve had the feeling that the rapid change would spoil the heart and soul of the place, ….. but with Sochi I get the feeling that these changes have injected a degree of vibrancy and optimism that I have seldom seen in the past, …. Anywhere.

Sochi has an elegance that no English resort town could ever hope to equal. The designer goods on the markets may be of dubious origin, but the beauty of the girls in Sochi is totally genuine, not to mention abundant. It would have been interesting to have visited this city twenty years ago and now to be able to compare the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Russia, ….. but we’ll simply settle for the ‘New’ and enjoy our last day here before moving on towards Volgograd.

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