Friday, January 3, 2014

To Russia, With Glove(s)

With client projects and holiday deadlines galore, November and December were a wash for free time to blog. Crud!

Lots of big Olympic news headlines of late, notably the selection of initial Team USA competitors and some final preparations for Sochi 2014.

Of course, troubling headlines are also on the brain given recent events in Central Russia.

During Christmas break, time at last arrived to finalize travel plans for the Winter Olympics.

"Are you going to Sochi?" is finally answered: YES!

For those who remain interested, it's not too late to book passage to Russia. Accommodations are available on several cruise ships set to dock at Sochi Port and Adler (with thanks to Tom Burke for the pointers on reservations). Also found an actual hotel available via, though I will be biting my nails until checking-in on 3 Feb that the hotel is there and open for business.

The cruise ship agency includes with their fee the required host documents needed for inclusion in the Russian tourist visa application process (more on that in a few paragraphs).

Flights are not cheap. Fortunately, after banking tens of thousands of SkyMiles, I'll get half-way to Sochi on Delta Air Lines' dime. The second half of the journey will be via Aeroflot from Germany, one of three nations with direct flights to Sochi available for the Games (it pleased me to avoid long layovers and out-of-the-way connecting flights via Moscow). Yahoo! Travel was helpful to locate these direct flight options.

And individual Sochi Olympic tickets remain available via CoSport -- it will be fun to visit Krasnaya Polyana for ski jump (the one ticket purchased so far). Locating a single Opening Ceremony ticket is on my wish list, but the Sochi ticketing process (which includes a new layer of security via the Spectator Pass process -- Meh) will prevent last minute wheeling and dealing like in Beijing.

Now, about that tourist visa for Russia Federation. Whew! I've put in a dozen hours and still the process is a work in progress. There are plenty of (nearly too many) checklist items to keep in mind, and that's just to get the paperwork in an envelope to the embassy (in my case, to a company that helps process the applications). I think only the visa application for China was more detailed, but it will be worth the time investment when arriving at the host city.

With just over 30 days to go, the time is now to get things booked without delay. Here's hoping others who are finalizing their plans will comment and share pointers.

During the booking process, I reflected many times that just 25 years ago a visit to Russia was likened to flying to the moon. It will be great fun to learn the culture in person, and I do wish to visit St. Petersburg, Moscow and other Russia Federation destinations in the future. Sochi will be a good place to start the Russia travel experience.

See you there!

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