I writing to thank you for being such a great host during the 2014 Winter Olympics. To be honest, my friends and family were worried about my visit, and I also have to admit that I bought terrorism and medical evacuation insurance just to be on the safe side. My mom said she was glad I did.
All I can tell you is that from the moment I touched ground in Sochi, things went much smoother than I expected. And much to my surprise, the simple things that can be a huge hassle when traveling were really well thought-out. There was no real language barrier to speak of, all my baggage arrived, and the hotel bus shuttle was smooth.
Overall, I was in your town for 25 days and I should add they were long days. Getting from the Coastal Cluster of media hotels to the mountain events did take me just over two hours one way, and with some of the evening events and press conferences not ending until after midnight, it made for a long commute at the end of each day back to my hotel.
Congratulations on your internet! I had connections in the media centers, at the bottom of ski runs, and in my hotel. It was never an issue. As a video journalist, a solid, uninterrupted connection is a must, and you delivered on that.
I’m going to tell all of my friends to come and visit, and here is why. I think overall, the Sochi 2014 Olympics were one of the most impressive engineering and construction project in modern times. Being from Boston and having lived through the “Big Dig” – which was in essence one big long tunnel and took close to 12 years to complete – it was obvious you certainly did more than that in less time.
From the airport out, everything was brand new, from the roads, trains, hotels, and sidewalks to the Olympic venues, stadiums, ski resorts, cross country center, ski jumps and bobsled tracks. Some estimates have the total number of workers over 70,000. And the world came and camped out in your town. It was obvious that not all of this massive construction site was cleaned up or completed, but hey, amazing effort mate, well done!
I'm eager to hear how you feel about how the world treated you as our host during the Winter Olympics? The world showed up on your doorstep and you fed us, showed us around, and generously let the world invade and criticize the house that Putin built. For sure there are issues in your country and you certainly do things differently, plus we dug around a bit looking for the cracks in your sidewalks, so to speak, but I guess that was to be expected – with greatness come critics.
It was a blast meeting so many people. The Olympians, the volunteers, the families, and the Russian fans were so pumped up to be there. During the entire trip, I only heard the press complaining – I couldn't find one spectator, worker, athlete, or coach who had issues. Most only had praise and good things to say about you and your town’s people.
Oh, those "cracks" we found with your way of life? I didn't find one Russian who complained about the things the media reported. Funny?
Sochi, you are located in a beautiful part of the world. The Black Sea provided an amazing backdrop for the mountain events and the mountains loomed large stacked up behind the Olympic Park. I wish you success in the future, the same success and opportunities you provided to all athletes, the families, fans, media, and support personnel. I hope to be back one day as well to see how the place looks when you do finally get to complete the project.
Best of luck to you, Sochi, and once again a big Boston thank you!