The Russian Riviera
By Shereen Shabnam
When looking for total relaxation, authentic local culture around every corner, unique natural surroundings, vibrant beaches, warm sunny days, and a bustling nightlife, Sochi is the ultimate destination as it attracts tourists from all over the world, including celebrities and the political elite of the country.
Visitors to Sochi can experience first-hand the charm and liveliness of the summer capital of Russia. Also known as the ‘Russian Riviera’, Sochi, is located along the 150 km strip between the Main Caucasus Mountain Range and the Black Sea coastline.
Sochi is undoubtedly Russia’s largest and busiest destination with sea resorts, glorious sunsetsand a picturesque mountainous coastline.Our first day in Sochi took us to Gorky Gorod Mountain Resort in the famous Krasnaya Polyana with breath taking scenic landscape.
While exploring the area, we saw signs of the infrastructure that supported the 2014 Olympics all over the mountainous ski resort from the cable cars, sightseeing areas and ski slope routes.
There are many layers of attractions in Sochi. The “Lower” and “Upper” levels of the city is connected by road and cable cars for visitors to see the sublime views and experience the local cuisine and entertainment in restaurants, cafes, shops, entertainment centers and indoor water Parks.
For wellness tourists, there are also spas, indoor and outdoor pools, gyms and beauty salons. It is the ultimate place for rest and relaxation as well as for pampering the body and soul.
On the second day, we went up the Rosa Khutor Mountain Resort on a cable car, visited the Mountain Olympic Village at 1170m above sea level and went further up to Rosa Pick at 2320m above sea level. The fresh breeze in the Caucasus mountains was memorable.
Rosa Khutor and its surrounding region are truly unique. Stroll down the Mzymta River promenade and watch the sunset after a day of skiing and recreation. In the summer, a walk along the markets, the mall and the cafes is pure delight.
A culinary journey in Sochi is a must. Every restaurant we ate at was purely delightful but the highlight of the second evening was an exquisite dinner at Brunello.Every course was delectable and the presentation was work of art.
The Caucasus region has a rich variety of seasonings and herbs and combined with the creativity of local chefs, and hence, Sochi offers some of the best cuisines in the culinary world. The fresh meat dishes and the salads are a must to have at meals.
To inject a bit of adventure into our trip, we also visited the SKYPARK AJ Hackett Sochi for some adrenaline driven altitude attractions. Here we had a chance to do bungee jumping and tried the world’s largest swing and zip lining.
We also enjoyed walking along the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world, stretching 439 m. From the mountain, we had panoramic views of the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains.
Most of the visitors in our group also enjoyed the Olympic Park. For me, best part was the visit to the Sochi Autodrom, a 5.848 km F1 permanent race track in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.The circuit runs around the Sochi Olympic Park and the inaugural World Championship Russian Grand Prix took place there in 2014.
Sochi for me is worth a second visit as I wish I had more time to visit the Museum of sports and retro cars with a collection of 70 rare cars from all over the world including an authentic Formula 1 car. That alone is an attraction I can be in for an entire day.
We also ventured out to Sochi Grand Marina for afternoon tea. The harbor hosts up to 300 yachts, including superyachts up to 140 meters in length, with specialized facilities for different types of vessels. The Marina’s surroundings offer local authentic gastronomy, shopping as well as other cultural traditions. In the nearby area is a lovely promenade for walks.
A visit to Sochi is certainly a must to enjoy extreme adventures, discover splendid sea beaches as well as a wide range of leisure, culture, and gastronomy in one location.