My mum is worried about me wandering around Sochi “lonely as a cloud” as she puts it, waiting for the Games to begin. There are next to no Westerners up here, so my days are mostly spent alone, wandering around new places taking photos, going through a million security checks and waiting for buses. So I’ve put together ways to entertain myself…
- People watching. The Russians are an interesting bunch. Russian women really do wear fur coats all the time, it’s not just a stereotype. They also wear a lot of make-up, including painted eyebrows, orange-ginger dyed hair and extremely long fake nails. Oh, and tiny crystals embedded in their teeth. Well, not all of them. Russian men like to joke with each other a lot. They’re 90 per cent bald, wear only black, smoke and are often called Serge.
- Visiting obscure museums and zoos. There’s a Monkey Nursery in Sochi that was originally where they trained the monkeys that went into space! So obviously I spent the whole day trying to find the space monkey sanctuary. I even went to the extent of finding a picture of a monkey and asking a Russian museum attendant where it was. “You want to go to Monkey Farm?” she said. Yes I nodded. Apparently I’d come to the entirely wrong end of the city.
- Browsing the supermarket. I really could spend all day in there trying to work out if that tin with a horse’s head on it really is horse meat. UPDATE: It is.
- Finding WiFi. It’s become my only real connection to English-speaking people, so finding is essential to stop myself from going a little crazy.
- Taking photos. Although not of policemen. They don’t like it. They don’t like it even more when I pull my “sorry, I’m a silly English girl” face and can’t understand their commands. Smiling at them doesn’t work either. They just stare back impassively. Smiling is a sign of weakness to Russians, according to my sister.
So all in all, it’s not so fun right now. But I did get a McDonalds and met two very friendly piste shapers who wanted their photo taken. So it’s not all bad, eh?