There come grueling periods in life when increasingly we feel trapped by the familiar, and the same time imprisoned by the fear of the unknown. Such turbulent times call for extraordinary measures – an escape.
In search of a place of beneficial exile of late, my sight turned to Sochi. Though I had never been there before, the idea of visiting has been lodged in my head for quite some time. So it was that when I threw a casual glance at the map again, I was instantly enchanted by the way this coastal town was nestled between a panoramic coastline and majestic mountains. The Black Sea beckoned me and instinctively I knew the cold winter water would wash away my troubles. So, with Aeroflot’s regular flights at a very interesting price, I simply is no excuse not to travel south. With plenty of other winter getaway options, Sochi immediately appeals as one of the nearest – a mere two-hour flight and the drably Moscow snow is forgotten.
So, with Aeroflot’s regular flights at a very interesting price, I simply had no excuse not to travel south. With plenty of other winter getaway options, Sochi immediately appeals as one of the nearest – a mere two-hour flight and the drably Moscow snow is forgotten.
As soon as I walk out of the airport into the dark Sochi night, I realize that the air has a distinct feel – my senses tell me of the proximity of salt water and snow capped mountains. On the canvas of the traditional whitewashed houses of Sochi I notice new brushstrokes: modern buildings beautifully co-exist with the elegant mansions adorned by perfectly manicured gardens and parks – the sophistication I’m familiar with after having traveled to Cannes and Monte-Carlo. Now I understand why they call it the Russian Riviera.
It’s also clear to me that much effort has gone into Sochi’s infrastructure, each perfectly paved intersection has a traffic lights loudspeaker, which rather thoughtfully reminds you when to start and finish crossing, in both Russian and English I might add. Bilingual shop signs and friendly townspeople make every foreigner feel they’re at home here. Time is deterred here somehow: Southern Russians speak slowly, eat slowly and smile a lot. Western journalists weaving a common narrative of a gloomy angry “typical” Russian should take a ticket to Sochi.
Here everything vibrates with a decidedly positive approach to life, let me assure you. For the first time in a long time I fall asleep feeling happy, only to wake up and discover that Sochi has prepared me an unexpected surprise – the view on the calm waters of the Black Sea. With the sun holding my face gently I walk out on the terrace to feel its vampish power on my skin.
The “Gentle” Sea, as Greeks used to call it, is blasely reclining in the first rays of light. I am besotted. Tears ooze from beneath my sunglasses. And so I stand there observing the peaceful dance of calm waters, feeling that quiet happiness that only a person who was dropped in the world for the first time can feel.