Drawing the curtains first thing in a morning, I’m never quite sure what will be outside.
This morning, it was the little tug Ruslan, holding position between us and this concrete pier. Having exchanged a friendly wave with Ruslan’s skipper who was standing on deck with his camera, we quickly went for breakfast because fun was planned.
Sochi was a little overcast, sadly, but nevertheless at this early hour (7.30am) the beach was full of bathers making the most of their holidays. Hard to imagine that this resort will host the Winter Olympics of 2014, but somewhere in those clouds, there’s a few snow mountains, we understand.
An hour or so later, walking through a city park, the sun broke through the clouds and the view out over the Black Sea looked rather Mediterranean, we thought.
Our first call was at Stalin’s Dacha, the Green Grove. This was a bit of a concrete monstrosity, really, but set in lush semi-tropical woodlands, it was a real hideaway.
And there he was, Uncle Joe, sitting at his desk. The inkwells were a present from Chairman Mao, we were told.
To his left was a telephone with no dial – the hotline to the Kremlin.
There was also a copy of his handwriting – how interesting to see cyrillic script handwritten; even harder to read!
Next stop was the Matsesta Springs. Here was a huge Sanatorium, used by the workers for their annual R&R. Our guide told us that 18,000 people took a bath here every day at the peak of the season – we did a few calculations and have trouble with that figure. I guess we can say it’s a popular place?
We went to the public spring where we were told that a fifteen minute soak would work wonders. No sooner had the words reached our ears than socks and shoes were abandoned and we enjoyed the feel of the cool, hydrogen sulphide spring water on our feet. I sat amused as the two ladies on the left of the photo discussed their bunions in Norwegian! (No, I don’t speak the language but some things are easier to understand than others!) The men stood by, not one of them willing to join us.
A benign Saint looked on from his little shrine in the rock.
Of course, there was a shopping opportunity – I don’t think this seller did any business though.
Back to the port later, for an early sailaway. The ship’s hooter sounded as a request was made for a Mr something-or-other to call reception. We discovered why as a chap we assume was the Mr something-or-other came running along the pier, just making it in time. As he ran up the gangplank, it was hoisted on board and we were away.
The little tug Ruslan was there to see us safely out of the harbour again.