Sochi on the Mind

Just getting ready to sit down as a family and watch the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony tonight in Sochi, Russia on the Black Sea. It is a long and often difficult road for any city to host a worldwide event like the Olympics, and we have personally traveled that road with Sochi. Went there several times as a family and blogged about it as well, for those interested in reading something else about this resort, seaside beauty besides Russia’s stance on homosexuality or difficulty with security. We can’t wait ourselves to see on TV how much they have built since we visited a few years ago.

“Perhaps We Could Drink Some Tea…”

I have given up finding the perfect cup of coffee in Russia. Such a thing just does not exist in a culture so based on drinking tea. A wikipedia article I researched reports that 82% of Russians drink tea on a daily basis.

Sure they have coffee available for the token foreigner who shows up and prefers it, but it is always an after-thought, a concession, appealing only in its exotic qualities. Tea is the native drink for Russians. Has been for over 300 years, and it is always available in large doses, the larger the better. Continue reading

Celebrating an Anniversary with Singing

We celebrate the anniversary of our host’s marriage in the Orthodox Church. By all rights, not the “real” anniversary date since people in the Soviet Union were almost all married civilly, outside the church and then after the fall of communism came back to have their union blessed by a proper church sacrament. You wouldn’t know that this was just their second wedding anniversary from the celebration and the songs that accompanied it. The old-timers really hammed it up in a big way. Continue reading

Extreme for Us, Normal for Russians

As Bilbo the Hobbit is known to say, “Dangerous thing leaving your front door. You never know what adventure might await you.” I have always loved this combination of the momentous with the ordinary, of a risky adventure with something as commonplace as closing the front door.

The Russian definition of adventure is very different from the American one. When our cousin invited me for a walk through the forest to see a waterfall, I knew my American visions of well-traveled paths, safe overlooks, and points of easy return were all illusions. It was more like a bush-wack than a stroll. What made it more difficult is the very steep landscape in this mountainous, seaside region. Continue reading

Family Reunions in the Kingdom of Heaven

In America, we like to start and end our events “on time”, and whenever things don’t strictly correspond to the clock, guests and hosts alike can get pretty disturbed. In Russia and especially here in Sochi, we follow a different kind of clock and feast in a very different  way.

Today is Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection, which is by default always a feast day. After going to morning Liturgy, we return to our aunt’s home to a table laden with delights befitting the day, but as I posted earlier the point is not the delicious food, but the company gathered, which for Sochi allows the largest amount of family not only to gather for a single meal but to live for a while in close proximity to one another.

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Extended Family in Hollywood Pictures

In Sochi now long enough to reestablish our usual family patterns. It is interesting how much our daily routine is tied up so much with the place in which it happens. When that place changes, an inevitable alteration in routine results to adapt to the new setting. We have been staying with aunt and uncle and will move down the street to make room for the arrival of cousins tomorrow. It has been good to get our own family patterns established in this new place before we intersect with our cousins’ family patterns.

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Sochi on the Black Sea: A Place to Call Home

Port of Sochi

En route to Sochi and I am beginning to remember all the good and the bad from my first visit four years ago. Sochi is a seaport on the Black Sea, one of the few in a country mostly bordered by land (and lots of it). It is also the vacation destination for most Russians who spend the winter in sub zero temperatures and enjoy only a mild summer respite. Sochi’s subtropical climate makes it akin to Florida in the US. Continue reading