Monday, September 24, 2018

A return to Sochi


  I first went to Sochi in November 2013 when it was preparing for the Olympics. The Olympic venues, including the athletes’ village were a sea of mud.
     I decided to return to see how it all turned out, especially the pedestrian streets and a shopping centre which my guide, Sberbank’s Deputy Chairman of the Board Stanislav Kuznetsov showed me, within which the top floor was being turned into a fabulous aquapark, with sand brought in from the Maldives..  
    I also planned take a ferry from Sochi to Batumi in Georgia, which I had been told was a most interesting waterfront resort city. However, I was subsequently cautioned about taking the ferry due to potentially rough seas, etc. so I ended up flying to Tbilisi instead. (more about this in a future post)
     The last time I was in Sochi I had a wonderful time at the Radisson in Adler. But it was suggested that I stay in Sochi, and the Radisson Lazurnaya was recommended as one of the three best hotels. Unfortunately, while I was anticipating a couple of days on the beach, it was raining heavily when I arrived, and the hotel was somewhat removed from the city.
     Worse still, when I arrived there was no record of my reservation, and things went down hill from there. One problem was that the hotel really catered to Russian families on vacation, not foreign tourists. I wrote to the manager but never heard back.  

While the first day in Sochi was a bust, my second day was wonderful. That’s because Svetlana Moskvicheva, one of the Strelka students I met in Moscow who lived in Sochi offered to arrange two tour guides.  Natalia Zakharova is an architect and editor of web-site Marina Kolyvanova is a journalist, who spoke excellent English. They took me up to Krasnaya Polyana to see a number of ski villages and helped me understand what was happening in and around Sochi. Anyway, enough words. Here are some more images of what we saw.

We went up to the upper level of the shopping centre to see the aquapark with the sand from the Maldives. But alas, it was closed for construction repairs. I thought about contacting Stanislav!  He would have got me in!
After our trip up the mountain, it was time for some mulled wine in a bar with a plaster cast of Putin on the counter.

Apparently the very expensive retractable roof doesn't work.
I can now see why they didn't use sand from the Sochi beach for the Aquapark
Their athletes' village housing was much less expensive to build than ours

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Midnight in Moscow

Miscellaneous images from around Moscow

Remnants from FIFA can be found around Moscow
Even Russia's state-funded RT network appeared to have a hard time believing these two were simply tourists in Salsbury
Moscow's newest park Zaryadye is really quite remarkable. My activities in Russia are the result of Gaetan Royer's involvement as a judge for an international competition that selected the winning design. (He put forward my name as a potential judge for a competition to select a team to design a new international financial centre.) I particularly like the elevated 'pier' that takes you out over the city.
While most of the new housing in Moscow is in what I would call the 'Nouveau-Riche' style, I particularly liked these boxy apartment buildings
My colleague Alexei Muratov kindly treated me to lunch at this clever concept restaurant. Wine and Crab. It would work in Vancouver!
In the past, I have been cautious around the Russian police. But this friendly member of the city's Tourist Police was more than pleased to pose for a photo
Remember Hari Krishna? They're now in Moscow.

The audience at Strelka. They represent 100 of the brightest young architects and planners from more than 50 cities around Russia, selected to participate in a program that brought in international speakers, like me! One of those cameras at the back belongs to a photographer working for the CBC (yes our CBC!)
Some of the students and organizers after my talk.
Setting up a segment on how Moscow is becoming a more livable city with CBC's Corinne Seminoff and Chris Brown

Yes, Chris is much taller than he appears on TV!
And fnally, a shot which shows the modern financial district contrasted by some of the older buildings.