The Winter Olympics for 2014 are a little over a week away and as the world’s finest athletes prepare to compete, what do you need to know about Sochi?
If you’ve got tickets or are considering visiting the city, there a few pointers that might help you get around.
The Russian city is on the Black Sea cost, and has a subtropical climate, with warm summers and mild winters.
While this may not sound ideal for winter sports competition, the nearby ski resort of Roza Khutor in Krasnaya Polyana will host the alpine and Nordic events.
Welcoming the Winter Olympic
The 24th winter Olympic Games will be the first time that Russia has hosted the Games, but after spending an estimated $50 billion on construction, it is sure to be quite a spectacle.
Part of the legacy of the project will see the entire ‘look’ of the city change, while it can also be showcased in preparation for its role as a host city for the 2014 FIFA football World Cup.
The event gets underway with the opening ceremony on 7 February, before 16 intense days of competition will follow.
From popular events such as Ice Hockey and Alpine Skiing to lesser-known events such as the Skeleton, Luge and Curling, there is sure to be a great deal of excitement.
Getting around the city
Public transport in the city comes mainly in the form of buses and taxis, although the Sochi Light Metro has recently been completed.
English-speaking bus and train operators will be present throughout the Olympics and Paralympics to help provide additional help and guidance.
The Adler-Sochi International Airport will be the main route into the city, while the five railway stations were all renovated in preparation for the Winter Olympics.
Temperatures in the city can vary between 4C and 11C on average during the winter months, although it will be considerably colder in the mountain regions.
Adequate warm clothing is therefore recommended as temperatures will still be low, although some of the arenas, such as those hosting the ice hockey and skating, could warm up when large numbers of people are inside them.
What to remember
Those travelling should ensure they have all the necessary documentation and should be prepared for stringent security checks.
It is also important to manage your money, as having a prepaid card could be a better alternative to carrying lots of Russian Rubles in your pockets.
These cards will offer the exchange rate at the time of purchase and provide additional security as well.
With a prepaid card you can only spend the amount which is on it at any given time, making budget management possible, although it can be topped up if you so wish.
That way you can purchase your souvenirs and event programmes, safe in the knowledge that you can afford to.
Expert Comment: The Sochi Olympics 2014 are the first large-scale event to be held in Sochi and hence, a number of Governments have advised visitors to ensure that they have adequate medical and travel insurance for their travel as the medical facilities and infrastructure in the region are untested for handling the large volume of visitors expected for the Olympics.
The other element to consider would be around carrying cash securely and a prepaid travel card could be ideal. It would be worth considering a GBP travel card from the likes of Caxton FX, my Travel Cash, ICE or Fair FX as you will be able to get some excellent rates on the day and with the likes of Caxton FX, you even get free ATM withdrawals. Make sure you get a GBP card (unless you can find one available in Russian Roubles) or you will end up losing money in currency exchange more than once! – Amit Sharma
Amit Sharma is the CEO and Founder of www.prepaid365.com and a senior prepaid industry consultant. You can follow him on LinkedIn.