Well – the journey is coming to an end. I am sitting in the research room, at the start of my final shift. Not really much to do, but we need some people in here during the closing ceremony, just in case any questions come up. There is so much to say, and yet – it feels oddly difficult – the weeks being this melange of images, more than discrete stories. Plus – it’s really hard right now to remember the beginning – how it felt, what I thought – such a state of unknowing – but all things that are now known.
I left Albuquerque for Sochi on January 29th – it seems a lifetime ago. I was on one of the NBC charter flights from Newark direct to Sochi – and we were able to hang out in the United Club during our layover in Newark. There were lots of NBC folks – and lots of people who clearly knew one another. I wasn’t the only one on the outside, but I was definitely on the outside – I didn’t know anyone. It was like being at a big reunion of friends and not knowing a soul.
The flight itself was uneventful and long. I couldn’t sleep at all – so I ended up watching three movies. And reading. And eating. And just staring into space. I had a middle seat – which was pretty unpleasant for such a long and crowded flight. They did cater it as though we were in business class – so the food was plentiful and good and the wine list was excellent (Cakebread Chardonnay? Yes please!).
Arrival in Sochi and processing at the airport went pretty smoothly. I got my luggage, got my credentials validated, and got directed to a van that would take me to my hotel. I only had one piece of luggage – a roll-aboard. Several people asked if I had left anything in the baggage claim – I guess I had packed unusually light compared to most others!
First sights of Sochi – the cool architecture of the train station, the sky was gray, things in a state of construction. Our hotel looked beautiful – a gorgeous chanedelier in the lobby. My room was decorated in a modern fashion and was perfectly comfortable. The view outside my window – a strange amusement park with roller coasters (we ended up nicknaming this Putin-land). Olympic Park was just next to that – so the hotel was easily within walking distance of Olympic Park. I was exhausted but I forced myself to go for a run, then I debated getting dinner downstairs – but I decided to just eat a Kind bar or two and go to bed. We started the next day – report to the research room at 9:30am.
Beautiful glass chandelier in the hotel lobby:
View of the hallway from the elevator:
Views from our balcony: