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It was a pretty weird feeling last night as I was playing My Little Ponies on the floor of our toy room with my four year old while “my” Turkish Airlines flight took off from Houston bound for Istanbul. I had excitedly booked that flight the day the schedule opened using United miles 11 months ago. I was supposed to be on that plane starting my trek toward Russia and the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, only I wasn’t. I was at home having a very normal and routine evening with my family. My only connection with Russia at this point was that the Olympic tickets I had sold (for a big loss) or given away were all hopefully on their way there via numerous different attendees.
I cancelled for a long list of reasons, and am very happy with that decision. I am even happier with my reservations over the hotel situation as reports from different journalists who have arrived in Sochi have hit social media, and now mainstream media including articles like this and this. It was pretty evident via my communications with a few hotels there in advance of the games that things were not on track, but it was very very hard to get a clear picture of exactly what that meant. Heck, it was even pretty hard to get a clear listing of what hotels were open for guests. Turns out lots of hotels aren’t yet open, and some won’t be open before the games are over. The Hyatt Regency Sochi I was in frequent contact with isn’t open, so I’m pretty sure being on that waitlist never would have panned out.
If you were “lucky” enough to get a hotel, and double lucky enough to actually have it open, you may be in for treats such as:
- Dangerous water
- Doors that don’t work, or stay locked, or don’t shut
- No lightbulbs
- No hot water
- Toilets that don’t accept toilet paper
- No pillows
- No water
- No room
- Stray dogs
The reports I have read from journalists there are all a little bit funny, and certainly (most) of those issues aren’t going to kill you, but this is supposed to be the Olympics in the resort community on the sea, not a mission to a third world country. Well, I guess the truth is that it falls somewhere between those two. That said, if I am going to be basically be camping out, I better not be shelling out thousands of dollars on my “vacation” to do so.
I feel bad for the people living and working in Sochi, I really do. I feel bad for the stray dogs that are being “disposed of”. Yeah, sure they are being relocated or sent to a shelter where vet checks are given. However, I don’t feel one tiny bit bad for everyone involved in deciding the Olympics should be held in this location. I was ready to spend decent money (and points) to attend this event, but they weren’t ready, and I eventually wasn’t willing to play along any longer. It got to a point where I couldn’t even give tickets away some of my tickets to this “world class event”.
I hope the biggest problems to come out of these Olympics are related to somewhat comical inconveniences. I hope the events are spectacular and enjoyable to watch. I hope Team USA wins a heap of medals. I hope the cruise ships that many spectators are housed on are in much better condition than the actual hotels on the ground.
I look forward to watching some of the events….on TV.