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The Olympics are always inspiring, enlightening, and full of life lessons. I look forward to learning about a new place and watching in-depth interviews with athletes. Even the youngest athletes motivate me to strive for my own personal best. So, I have been watching closely for valuable information and endearing stories. Here is the first installment.

Lesson #1 – There is more to Russia than Siberia. It is easy to understand how Siberia is often synonymous with Russia–it covers 77% of the Russian terrain. Who knew that Russia had a subtropical coastline with a lovely city, white beaches, soaring mountains, and mild winters? I certainly did not.Then, last Thursday, during the first night of Olympic coverage I saw a photo of Sochi. Wow. Sochi is a port city with winter daytime temps averaging 50 degrees. The population size–329,000–is perfect for a city, in my opinion.

I investigated recreation opportunities in Sochi. The first opps that grabbed my attention are the beaches along the Black Sea. I also learned about the Dendrary Botanical Garden. Trip Advisor says, “The garden is the largest subtropical park in Russia and contains more than 30 acres of stunning natural beauty” And for history buffs or dictator groupies, Sochi offers tours of Stalin’s Summer Residence, a lovely villa.

And those mountains above the city! The snow may be too mushy for our winter games athletes; however, in the summer, waterfalls abound up there. The Agura Waterfalls offers, “Hiking  along the Agura ravine to stunning waterfalls, the highest at 90 feet” Lake Ritsa is a part of the Euxine-Colchic deciduous forests ecoregion. In 1930 the Ritsa Nature Reserve was established to protect the natural state of the lake and the surrounding land. rich in trout.

And if you have to ski or snowboard, future visitors can have fun at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort, built between 2003 to 2011 for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paraolympics, based in nearby Sochi. The distance between Sochi and the resort: approximately 100 miles and a new train shuttles people from there.

I added  Sochi to my bucket list. This won’t happen anytime soon, but for fun I checked out airfares to Sochi. If I travel there this May, the round trip flight costs $1000. If I travel in September, the flight is $1900. Why is that? Further research informed me that the high season lasts from the end of May until the end of October. That means early May is the time to go in case you also travel economy style.

Beaches, mountains, subtropical climate–yeah Sochi! See you someday.

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