Sochi: resort city and Olympic capital without professional football team

Sochi: resort city and Olympic capital without professional football team

Matches

The match programme in Sochi kicks off right off the bat with a top game between Portugal and Spain on 15 June. Other three group stage meetings are a bit ''simpler'' – Belgium vs Panama on 18 June, Germany vs Sweden on 23 June, Australia vs Peru on 26 June. However, there are enough stars in the national teams of Belgium and Germany, and these teams are likely to be candidates for medals.

Then play-off, and here Sochi can draw the attention of whole Russia if, of course, its national team reaches the play-off first (which, let's admit, is highly unlikely). In this case, it will fight in the 1/8 finals against either Portugal or Spain (excluding the fantastic option where Morocco or Iran are second in Group B) in the resort city.

If the national team of Russia ends second in its group and miraculously wins the Group B winner in the 1/8 finals in Moscow, its arrival in Sochi is possible in the quarterfinals already. But another Sochi quarterfinals with a louder lettering – Argentina vs Spain or Portugal is more likely.

Photo: fifa.com

Stadium

There was a unique situation with Sochi's $600 million Fisht stadium. The arena is beautiful, moreover, it already served the historical event – 2017 Winter Olympics (the opening and closing ceremonies took place here), but there is nobody to play football here: the city hosting the WC doesn't have a professional team. Even in the Russian Professional Football League (Russian third football division). Sochi FC was reformed and formed several times. The last time it performed was right in the Russian Professional Football League in the 2016/2017 season. According to the latest information, the problem will be solved by a move of Dynamo from Saint Petersburg to Sochi.

However, the arena hosted 2017 Confederations Cups. In addition, it was used by the Russian Football Union for friendlies of the national team of Russia. It was built in 2013 in the form of a shell and is able to transform – 25,000 to 45,000 spectators can stay there depending on an event's scale.

Photo: fifa.com

Stadium stop

Fisht, a component of the Olympic Park, is located in one of the Sochi microregions Adler (25 km to Sochi centre). The Sochi airport is located in same Adler, 5 km straight from the stadium. Buses 57k and 135 go to the stop Fisht Olympic stadium from it.

One can use Bus 125c (which is, by the way, 35 stops) reach the centre of Sochi from the stadium and Tuapse – Imeretinsky Kurort train (just three stops in the section Sochi-Adler). The station Imeretinsky Kurort was built by the Olympics, it was the station that assumed the main transport burden during the event.

Photo: Aleksandr Demiyanchuk/TASS

Where to stay

Vash Otel page stated Sochi has 453 hotels with stars (218 are three-star, 12 – five-star) and 1,595 places of accommodation without stars.

On the Portugal-Spain match day (15 June), Booking.com offered ''houses for holiday'' for 360 rubles (the cheapest option) and 120 square metre apartment for 9 people 500 metres from Sochi's centre for 27,000 rubles in the middle of April. The biggest amount of offers is from 3,500 to 7,500 rubles. Adler itself has enough options. Moreover, if we believe Booking.com, they are cheaper by some 20% there.

Airbnb offers more than 300 options of accommodation in Adler on 15 June – from hostels for 620 rubles to ''chalet with views on mountains'' with nine bedrooms and indoor tennis court next to Roza Khutor ski resort for 248,000 rubles (however, it's far from the stadium). An average price is 4,672 rubles.

Photo: Aleksandr Demiyanchuk/TASS

Sightseeing points

Sochi is one of the extended cities in Russia, the length of the urban riverbank is almost 150 km. The city is divided into four unequal districts – Adler, Lazarevo, Khosta and Central.

The main sightseeing points are concentrated, of course, in the Central District – it is Central and Verkhnyaya Marine Embankments (Primorsky Park), railway and marine stations, a huge arboretum, which has a cableway inside, Riviera Culture and Leisure Park.

But the other districts of Sochi also have things to look at, including active recreation.

Photo: Artur Lebedev/TASS

Bolshoi Akhun and Maly Akhun Mountains are located in Khosta District, between the River Matsesta and Khosta (633 metres above sea). A watchtower with a height of 30 metres operates in the first one, which has a luxury view on the Sochi and the Black Sea riverbank, from Lazarevo resort to Pitsunda. One can get to the mountain from Sochi and Adler by excursion bus. But if you want adventures, it's better to do it on foot to Maly Akhun on Kurortny Prospekt or Sputnik on Novorossiysk Highway. But the distance to cover isn't short, from 8 kilometres (cutting on the map) to 12 (along the highway).

J. Stalin's Dacha museum built in 1937 is located in same Khosta District.

There is a park of extreme activities Sky Park in Adler District, in Akhshtyr Ravine with the longest suspension bridge in the world, bungee jumping, high-altitude swings, etc.

Photo: Artur Lebedev/TASS

Where to eat

CORKs (European cuisine, average bill is 900 rubles), Baran Rapan (European, Russian cuisines, average bill is 3,000 rubles) and Steak House Syndicate (European cuisine, average bill is 3,000 rubles) lead in the rating of restaurants by TripAdvisor.ru.

The chain of canteens Seli-Poyeli (250 rubles on average), Chalet canteen, Bulki bakery café (300 rubles) are leaders in the category ''tasty and cheap''. McDonald's in Sochi is unexpectedly expensive: an average bill is 300 rubles (for comparison, it's 250 rubles in Saint Petersburg). It is higher in KFC – from 350 rubles (230 rubles in Saint Petersburg) and Burger King – 400 rubles, the prices are taken from 2GIS.

If you want to eat in a more freakish place, you should visit Roller – the first rollercoaster restaurant in Russia with ''bulk plate service'' and a fully automated order system. Here containers with food fall directly on the table from a 25-metre height on steel rails making steep curves.

Photo: Artur Lebedev/TASS

Highlights/specifics

The recreation capital of Russia isn't big in its usual state – just 429,000 people live here. But at peak season, this number grows manifold, of course. It's located on the northern border of subtropics, four-fifths of its area is occupied by protected territories and sites such as Caucasian Nature Biosphere Sanctuary, Sochi All-Republican State Nature Protected Area, Sochi National Park. Thanks to the Olympics and its infrastructural breakthrough, Sochi got a role of the ''reserve capital'' of Russia – the city constantly hosts international meetings and high-level events.

By Rustem Shakirov