Fantastical Sochi

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Russia is fantasically beautiful to me. Yes, it’s a bit strange, but I like strange (and, to me, if you’re not a little weird, there’s probably something wrong with you). The crazy signs, double toilets, food choices (meat salad has consistently been a buffet offering in my hotel complex, though I haven’t tried it so I can’t report on it), and Riviera Park. It’s all a photographer’s dream.

So it was with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to explore some more of this little town yesterday. My Olympic partner in crime, Jim Logan (IT analyst for Gannett), and myself, headed into downtown Sochi from Olympic Park and killed some hours. I think I explained this before, but the town of Sochi is actually like 15 miles from Olympic Park. It’s kind of like how Atlanta Motor Speedway is not in Atlanta (NASCAR analogies are my favorite).

About the only thing I knew I wanted to photograph there was the massive mural of Lenin (below). The fastest route to this amazing mural from the train station is through Riviera Park, a splendidly fabulous reminds-me-of-the-Spalding-County-fair kind of amusement park. Jim and I (yes, it sounds like I’m saying Gemini) walked through the park around lunchtime right after it opened for the day, so there were not many people there. And it’s February.

It felt like we were in an abandoned theme park, but everything was open, just waiting on customers. There was a dolphin show at 1 p.m., but me and Jim (see what I did there?) decided against it for fear it would take too much time. We (well myself, mainly)  just wanted to peruse this wondrous visual landscape.

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Mural of Vladimir Lenin.

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Entrance to Riviera Park.

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The “Desert Show,” which apparently includes themes of Disney’s “Madagascar” and “Cars” (the small cars on the checkered flag strip are characters from “Cars,” including Mater!).

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So these machines are like the machines back home that use the claw to try and grab gifts using a joystick. I’m sure it will take my money just the same here.

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I had to restrain myself, but I really wanted to try this one.

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Teacups, Russian style.

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That’s Russian for “Sochi 2014.”

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I love the palm trees. Almost makes me feel like I’m in Florida this week covering the Daytona 500.

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Parrots and elephants.

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Riviera has been here a long time.

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Games on wheels.

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There were four of these busts in the center of the park. Pretty important dudes, I’m sure.

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And there was this advertisement inside the building where the dolphin show takes place. Interesting.

So that was Riviera Park. Here are few frames from around Sochi, also beautiful in a photographer’s kind of way.

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Downtown.

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Some kind of show for children (and adults, I think).

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Water.

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I think this was a big-and-tall store. I think.

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Entrance to a small shopping mall.

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This was truly awesome. How often to you see a giant hand walking around? This little girl had no idea what to think of it. It was outside the official Olympic merchandise store in Sochi. Yes, people wait in line just to buy that stuff. I don’t get it.

Well, only 9 days til I’m back in Georgia! Thanks for stopping by …. I hope to have a couple of more blog posts before this journey is over.

5 Comments

  1. Reply
    Pansy Paxson February 18, 2014

    We are loving these updates!!! So glad you have a little time to do some exploring! Is there normally snow there at this time of year? We have been hearing that it is warmer than usual and causing problems on the slopes.
    Continue having great experiences – and stay safe!!! We will all breathe a sigh of relief when your feet touch the ground in Georgia!!!

  2. Reply
    Delores Toothaker February 18, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your experience in Sochi. Please keep posting pictures.

  3. Reply
    Michael G Chapman February 18, 2014

    Really love these pictures of the park and town. You are very talented. For us who could not go there, this is a wonderful way to experience it. Thank you so much. Mike

  4. Reply

    Love the head-on simplicity of the architectural/sign photos and the complexity of the images with people. Especially love the light, reflections and patterns in the last shot with the little girl watching the SOCHI hand.

  5. Reply
    Raynor Cathey February 24, 2014

    Enjoyed all,the photos and updates! Sounds like u may be getting a little homesick!

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