The 2014 Olympics have put a little known obscure Russian town, Sochi, on the “to-visit list” of the avid traveler. International travelers, who like to venture into the unknown, have known it as the Russian Riviera. It has surprised many that a summer destination is hosting the Winter Olympics. Besides its recent claim to fame, Sochi has a lot to offer to its visitors.
This sub-tropical beach destination attracts millions of domestic tourists every year. It has an eclectic mix of stunning natural beauty, vintage architecture and historical places that keep the first time visitor busy for a few days.
Stalin’s Summer Residence
Joseph Stalin, the soviet dictator loved the warm climate of Sochi and had a summerhouse built here. It is surprising that the house is not built on the shoreline but high in the forested hills. The residence has a faded exterior but the interiors are well preserved, a reminder of the bygone era.
Sochi, is the only place in Russia that has tea plantations. The Dagomys Plantation is located on the ridge and bordered by the sea and snow-capped mountains. The tea plantation is a complete cultural experience with traditional Russian food, log homes and live music. The visitors can also observe the making and drinking of tea Russian style.
Sochi Art Museum
It is the grandest building of Sochi and has an enviable collection of Soviet and Eastern European art.
The Black Sea Shore
The warm summer months call for a lot of beach action. The Black sea has a 65 mile long shoreline in Sochi. There are both sand and pebble beaches, inviting the visitors for a swim in the calm sea and have some beach fun.
Russian cities are renowned for their unique architecture style and Sochi too boasts of some beautiful buildings. The Port, Train Station and the art museum are classic examples of the Soviet Architecture and are worth spending some time on.
For the archeologically inclined, Sochi has on offer two Byzantium ruins situated on the north west hills near the downtown. The older and larger ruin is that of the Godlik Fortress built during the fifth century. The other ruin is the one of Loo Temple belonging to the tenth century.
For food lovers Sochi offers a range of cuisines. The popular spots include Natasha’s (famous for its rich Georgian cheese bread), Ne Goryuy (authentic Georgian cuisine along with Kuban wines), Stolovaya No 17 ( reminder of the canteens in the Soviet days),TuretskayaKukhnya (unpretentious eatery with fantastic salads and kebabs) and LA Pizzeria ( for those who crave pastas and pizzas).