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Countdown to Opening Ceremonies!

Countdown to Opening Ceremonies!

Friday, March 07, 2014
Author: Chace Family

The US Sled Hockey Team has over 75 friends and family who are travelling to Sochi for the games. Applying for three levels of security in advance was a job but we were happy to comply for a safe, smooth experience.  Despite advance preparations, each family has their travel story. Ours began at Logan Airport, only to find out that our Delta Flight to JFK was cancelled. "No problem," we are told. "We will put you on a flight to La Guardia and a bus has been arranged to take you to JFK in time to make your flight to Moscow." We arrived at La Gaurdia with our luggage only to find that the BUS has been cancelled. We caught a cab, compliments of Delta Airlines, and made it it JFK in time. Whew. After proceeding through the TSA line where our passports and visas were examined, we made our way to "bag search." While in line, the TSA woman sought us out again, saying, "There is a problem. Your Russian visas have expired." Expired?! We haven't even left!? She pointed out the start date on the 30-day Russian visa, 01-03-14. I explained to her that the date is written in the European/Russian fomat which is March 1, 2014. "Oh, you may be correct," she said. After checking with her supervisor, all was correct and we were allowed to proceed.

Ric was happy to be flying on an Airbus, despite the Russian airline, Aeroflat. We arrived in Moscow at 8am, March 5. The airport was old, stuffy and smelled of cigarrettes. We weathered the 6 hour layover and flew to Sochi, arriving at 5pm. The airport is new as is everything in Sochi, including roads, hotels and the Olymoic Park. The weather was beautiful-sunny, warm and about 70 degrees. The prearranged taxi was waiting for us and after being up for nearly 30 hours, we were thinking our luck had changed. Not so.  

The taxi let us off at the Security Checkpoint Building within sight of the Radisson Blu Hotel. Staffed by Russian volunteers, ages 20-30, some of whom spoke a bit of English, we were to obtain our Resident Passes so as to stay in the hotel. The applications for these passes had been completed online months ago through the Radisson. I obtained my pass but we were told there was a discrepancy regarding Ric's date of birth. Once again, a transposition of the day and month. They would have to run a background check which could take 3 hours or more. He would have to wait. I left him with his e-reader and checked into the hotel. The Radisson apologized for their mistake with his date of birth but could not correct the mistake at this point. It was nearly dark when I returned to the Checkpoint Building. We started out on a walk to stay awake, when a Russian volunteer ran after us to let us know Ric's Pass was complete. 

Without boring you futher we had another adventure the following day obtaining the Spectator Pass allowing us into the Olympic Park where the games will be played. Getting lost on foot enroute from the town of Adler, Ric asked a group of young Russian policemen if they would point out our location on our paper map. Unable to communicate well, they instead gave us a ride in their Police jeep back to the hotel. Made it.

We look forward to the Opening Ceremonies tonight!  Here are our first photos of Olympic Park!


Taylor will play in the puck-shaped Shayba Arena pictured in front with the blue stripes.

 Athelete's Village from Radisson Blu.



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