We were warned about not expecting much from Sochi, Russia. It turned out to be a highlight of our cruise. Sochi is a tropical seaside resort town, Russia's only warm water port in summer. The mountains and ski resorts are 100 kilometers out of town. They are preparing to hold the Winter Olympics in 2014, next February, and are seeing a huge infrastructure and building boom.

We visit the Krasnaya Polyana Nature Reserve, at 1 kilometer elevation, where there are several Olympic Villages being built for the ski jump and ski racing venues. There are many cable car areas reaching the ski areas at 2 kilometer elevation. Vasily, our guide, tells us they have put 200 billion rubles into the preparations, at 3.6 rubles per dollar. There's a new high speed railway and new roadway with multiple tunnels to reach the ski areas, and many new hotels, including a Radisson and a Marriott.


The Mzymta River is a focal point providing a promenade area in the villages and the valley for the road and rail. Some of it may not be completed by February, but what is done is stunning and surprisingly beautiful.

Tom at the Sochi port entrance.

Tom, Karen and Bruce at the Mzymta River Valley.

Karen at the Laura ski village.


Karen and Bruce on the Laura promenade.

Tom and the snow capped mountains at about 7,500 ft. Elevation.