There Are Some Nightmare Travel Stories Coming Out Of Sochi

Sochi drainageAlexander Valov/BlogSochiA construction area outside the Olympic Park two weeks ago.

Construction work that should have been long since completed is still in full swing on the eve of the Sochi Olympics.

While the main venues and Olympic Village are finished, the area around the Olympic Park and a number of hotels are effectively construction zones, according to widespread reports.

Two weeks ago Russian blogger Alexander Valov took a series of photos that showed Sochi half-built and covered in trash 15 days before the games. The sidewalks were falling apart, and construction equipment dotted the muddy patches on the outskirts of the Olympic Park.

Combined with the travel nightmares we’re seeing from a variety of journalists, there’s a growing impression that Sochi is not fully ready for the Olympics, despite spending a record ~$50 billion to stage the games.

You can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet:

The water at one hotel in Rosa Khutor (the mountain cluster) went off. When it came back on it was yellow:

Bruce Arthur of the National Post is in Sochi. He wrote a round-up of travel nightmares from journalists. The best tidbits:

  • Journalist Joerg Reuter found construction workers sleeping in his bed. When he was moved to a different room, there was a stray dog in it.
  • The Ekaterininsky Kvartal hotel has no elevator.
  • Brian Cazeneuve of Sports Illustrated had to leave his room through a window because all the doors are stuck locked.
  • One of the twin beds in a journalist’s room was covered in semen when they arrived.
  • One journalist was told he will not get a shower curtain.

Deadspin also has a round-up of travel nightmares: hotels without electricity, hotels without lobbies, hotels without hot water, etc.

Officials say 97% of hotel construction is complete.

A worker told Arthur, “In general, it is done. But the details are not done. And the details are everything.”

When it won the bid in 2007, Sochi was a mid-sized resort town without the necessary infrastructure to host the Olympics. They had to build roads, train stations, 11 world-class sports venues, and dozens of hotels from scratch. Along the way there were numerous delays, and countless accusations of corruption.

Now, a few hours before the games start, there’s still meaningful work to be done.

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