By Trish Jordan
After a busy last couple of days in my 2014 Olympic Winter Games experience in Sochi, Russia, I was finally able to sleep in on Friday morning as the women’s Canadian curling team had a bye. Happy belated Valentine’s Day everyone!
It was great not to have to be down in the lobby of our hotel at our usual 7:30 am departure time. With the entire day ahead of us, we had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and then a few of us decided to head to the outdoor market in Adler where we are staying.
Roaming the streets of Adler – or any place you visit – is one of the best ways to get your bearings and explore what a place has to offer.
I am not a shopper and usually avoid it, but I don’t mind wandering the streets and back lane ways and generally just checking things out. And it is not very often I travel to a unique location like Russia so I figured I better pick up a few things for folks back home.
Unlike my first day when I walked along the Black Sea on the way to pick up my Olympic accreditation, this day we headed “up town” to check out the shops that are part of a two-to-three block outdoor market.
I guess because it is the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, pretty much every small, make-shift shop in the market is filled with Olympic souvenirs. Some carry official Olympic trinkets and gear, while others are just selling items adorned with “Sochi” or “Russia.” Since we are a curling group, the few brave souls who agreed to let me tag along – Devlin Hinchey, Cheryl Lawes and Carol Jones – were all busy trying to find anything official that had a curling theme.
There were countless small booths filled with trinkets and gadgets – key chains, pins, t-shirts, gloves, mitts, toques etc. But we also found a few unique items such as more traditional Russian hats and clothing.
The market was filled with people, I assume doing the same sort of thing we were doing but the majority of the shoppers seemed to be locals. Adorned in our Canada jackets, we were also stopped by many Russians along the way. They seem to really like Team Canada and love to have their pictures taken with us in our red jackets. One even shouted out, “Canada good team” and then gave me the thumbs up!
After a number of stops, all the shops started looking the same and we eventually headed back to our hotel where we dropped our bags and headed to the boardwalk for lunch.
Normally, I think all of us would have been game to try the local cuisine which is big on protein and short on vegetables. Kabobs of lamb, pork and chicken are standard fare. We have tried a lot of local restaurants this week and we’ve even stopped on the street to pick up a roast chicken or a kabob for a late night snack. For a protein lover like me, it’s great, although I am starting to crave a really good salad.
But on this day, we were headed for some good/bad comfort food and a new McDonalds that just opened in time for the Olympics. Apologies to my foodie friends for caving into the pressure of North American fast food, but it was just what was needed on this day.
The day ended with a trip back to Olympic Park where we were invited to a special Canadian Curling Association (CCA) “Curling Day” reception for friends and family in a private area on the top floor of Canada House. It was a good time for the Canadian curling Olympians to catch up with their families, away from the crowds and other Canada House fans. I was grateful to be included and enjoyed visiting with my CCA friends and Janet Arnott, coach of Team Jennifer Jones – the only female curling coach at the games.
While we were upstairs at our reception, Vladimir Putin made an unexpected stop at Canada House and was presented with a pair of Team Canada Olympic mitts. Yep – I said Vladimir Putin. Wow! Too bad I missed that picture.
Then it was off to the hockey game with the boys for me – my first chance to see the Bolshoy Arena which is the site for all the men’s hockey games this week. The game was rather uneventful with Canada defeating Austria 6 to 0, and I left early to watch Canadian Men’s figure skating champion, Patrick Chan, skate his long program for gold, or so I thought. In the end, Chan grabbed the silver and while I was disappointed for him, I was still proud of his silver medal effort. Well done, Patrick!
Heading into the weekend, I am starting to think about my departure. I take the long trip home on Tuesday/Wednesday so hope to catch our men’s and women’s hockey and curling teams go for gold on television, in my PJs from the comfort of my living room couch, with good coffee – likely recovering from jet lag.
Right now, it’s hard to talk about leaving or think about boarding a plane home on Tuesday. So I won’t.
Instead, I will continue to embrace this experience, enjoy the fantastic people who I am lucky to hang out with and call friends, and look forward to finishing off my Sochi adventure.