The World Cup will take place in Russia in June and July. As a traveller, I (Yoshi) have already researched on the best bits of Russia! Apart from popular cities
such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, Sochi, along the Black Sea, is a resort town favoured by President Putin and is also one of the cities to host World Cup matches. A wave of football enthusiasm will surely wash over the town.
World Focus at Fisht Olympic Stadium
The 21st World Cup is hosted from 14 June to 15 July. Preparation work at the 12 stadiums in 11 cities across the country is in full swing.Mascot Zabivaka is placed outside the venues and even the plants have been trimmed to the shape of football. The whole country is ready to welcome the World Cup tourists.
Situated at the Sochi Olympic Park, Fisht Olympic Stadium was the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in 2014. With a capacity of 40,000 people, it is also one of the major World Cup stadiums. The roof was built from ethylene tetrafluoroethylene imported overseas, first of its kind in Russia. As the plane lands in Sochi, the over USD 770 million (HKD 6.14 billion) stadium comes into sight on the right,just like the snowy peaks when looking down from above, welcoming visitors on the shore of Black Sea.
Over the World Cup period, Fisht Olympic Stadium hosts four matches in the Group Phase and another two in the Knockout Phase. Everyone’s eyes are on the match between Spain and Portugal. The winning team may even play against France or Argentina in the quarter-finals. In any case,football fans can enjoy the heated atmosphere at the FIFA Fan Fest at the seaside, where beer and snacks will be served.
世界盃以外，身為俄國最受歡迎的度假城市索契仍有不少吸引之處。北部的高加索山脈擋住了西伯利亞的寒流，南部黑海的暖流又常年滋潤著它，是全國冬季最溫暖的地方，得天獨厚的氣候令索契擁有首屈一指的自然風光，有著“ 夏日之都” 的美譽。
若您自問膽子夠大兼勇於挑戰，那定要到空中公園一趟。公園內有多項空中極限項目設施，當中樓高約56層的“ 世界最高秋千” 最受歡迎，可單人坐也可雙人坐，以最高速度盪下，雙腳回到地面時真的有點感覺不是自己了！而要抵達這個秋千冒險，還必須先走過439米的“世界最長吊橋” 。空中公園跟澳門旅遊塔的蹦極一樣同屬AJ Hackett，亦是世上八個同類公園中規模最大。對於熱愛更刺激運動的您，207米和69米高度的山間蹦極可謂首選，倒向深淵，跳入峽谷，感受自由落體的強勁衝擊力！
World Cup aside, Sochi, as the most popular resort town in Russia, is home to many exciting activities. It is Russia’s warmest city in winter as the Caucasus Mountains on its north blocks the cold air from Siberia and the Black Sea on the south brings warm current. The pleasant climate makes it the perfect spot to enjoy the nature.
For those up for challenges, Skypark AJ Hackett Sochi offers extreme entertainment on a high altitude. The most popular activity is Sochi Swing – the highest swing in the world at a thrilling height of 56 storeys. Visitors can either go on it alone or with a partner. After swinging in the air at such high speed, one might feel dizzy when reaching the ground.To arrive at the swing, one must pass through the longest Skybridge in the world – measuring 439 m. The extreme sports provided in the Skypark and Macau Tower are both owned by AJ Hackett, and the Skypark is the biggest among the eight parks of the same nature in the world. Extreme sport lovers may take a plunge from 207 m or 69 m at the park’s Bungee jump facilities.
索契的地方美食和俄羅斯傳統美食截然不同，留有高加索國家的深刻印記，因此這裡的羊肉製品、烤肉與格魯吉亞餃子等非常受歡迎。但古語有云“ 靠山吃山，靠海吃海” ，來到索契，又怎能錯過當地海鮮？
Sochi´s cuisine is different from classical Russian culinary. Heavily influenced by Caucasian culture, Sochi cuisine features lamb, roast meat and Georgian dumplings. However, since Sochi is on the seaside, a seafood meal seems like a more sensible choice.
On the coast of Black Sea, Sanremo serves local seafood like oysters, mussels, king crabs, tiger prawns and octopuses, best paired with summer cocktails. Inspired by beach and ocean, the floor of the restaurant is covered in a layer of sand, and the ceiling-to-floor windows and balconies allows diners to enjoy the mesmerising view of the Black Sea. Apart from freshly caught seafood, the restaurant also offers Italian, Japanese and traditional Russian dishes. At night, it becomes a great place to be with friends because of the live band performances.
索契的療養院大多以溫泉浴場的形式而建，而我獨愛位於高加索山脈下的水療中心SPA-Bath Complex Espas，因其周邊有瀑布河流， 讓平日身處大都市的身心可親親大自然，放鬆心神。整座水療中心以當地板栗原木所構成，步入室內，即可聞到陣陣樹木清香，伴隨著配搭用的傳統陶瓷磚，極具俄羅斯風格。往室外浴場走，一個被火炭燒著的巨大熱鍋異常吸晴，而這正正是俄國的特色三溫暖。雖熱鍋一直被火炭燒著，但鍋內的水卻只有攝氏42度，鍋中還浸著白樺樹葉，在鍋內一邊享受高加索的自然美景，一邊感受水療的洗滌，舒適悠閒。
Spa and Relaxation
Every year, over 3 million of visitors come to Sochi and come to refuge from their busy lives. The moderate climate means palms and cypresses are still green in winter with colourful flowers. In the Russian Empire period, the city was where the royal family members would go to recover from illness.
Most sanatoria in Sochi are operated as spas. My personal favourite is SPA-Bath Complex Espas at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains.It is surrounded by waterfalls and rivers, and the proximity to nature is relaxing for city dwellers. The building is constructed with local chestnut wood, the fragrance of which permeates into the air of the interior, and decorated by traditional ceramic tiles. the local sauna is unique as a huge pot of water with silver birch leaves was being heated up by fire on charcoal, surprisingly the water measured only 42°C. It was amazingly relaxing to soak in the pot while enjoying the natural scenery of Caucasus.
Marine Passenger Terminal
Situated along the sea, Sochi stretches a distance of 145 km from east to west. It is the longest city in Russia, and the second longest in the world. After exploring the mountains, it is time to go to the sea. Built in 1955, the Marine Passenger Terminal is one of the busiest spots in Sochi and the sole passenger-only pier in Russia.
The pier measures a total of 330 m, and are lined with rental yachts and sailboats. Walking along the pier, different layers of blue came into sight. In the evening, many yacht operators would invite visitors on board to watch sunset at the sea. I opted for a small sailboat. Sea breezes blew as the sun went down. The view had a calming effect beyond description. You may even see a big group of seagulls crossing the sky or dolphins dashing between boats if you are lucky.
Day and Night at the Hotel
Hotels in Sochi are top-notch, catering even for President Putin. Sochi Marriott Krasnaya Polyana Hotel is located at the ski area at the foot of Caucasus Mountains. With a breathtaking view of the mountain ranges, all of the 428 rooms are fitted with private balconies.
The spa at the hotel is also my favourite. A revitalising and soothing hot bath there after a long day of travelling is the way to go. I like spending the morning at the outdoor poolside, feeling the warmth of the sun on a lounge chair while watching children enjoying themselves. At night, the lobby bar offers a wide range of cocktails. The bartender made me a strawberry-flavoured drink that suits ladies perfectly. For guys, a single-malt whisky will go well with conversations on the day’s football match.
Caviar Tasting: A Luxurious Experience
Russia without caviar and vodka is like a football match without referee and football. The Sochi Casino is located at a magnificent European-style building right next to Sochi Marriott Krasnaya Polyana Hotel.
The world-class venue features splendid performances by Russian and international stars and themed parties. Its fine-dining restaurant Brunello, run by celebrity chef Ilya Zakharov, is acclaimed for high-quality delicacies. It is the ideal place to taste caviar, which has rated as one of the three most luxurious dishes in the world. Apart from spooning it directly into the mouth, the restaurant also serves it on a cream pancake topped with gold flakes. Other recommendations include modern dishes such as Branded Brunello Oysters with Seasonal Wild Strawberries and Kimchi Sauce, and Scallop with Jerusalem Artichoke, Popcorn made of Piglet and Crispy Jamon Chips. The bartender also offers recommendations for the best pairing wine or vodka.
Due to time constraints, we could only visit Sochi Park next time. It is the largest and only theme park in Russia close to high standard theme parks like
Disneyland. It covers more than 200,000 sq.m. with exciting roller coasters and children’s rides. Besides Sochi, Moscow and St. Petersburg are also
venues for the World Cup matches with different attractions.
Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow
Founded in 1561, it is one of the representative works of the 16th century Russian Folk Architecture with a colorful and distinctive onion dome, and is magnificently decorated with ornamental murals.
Winter Palace, St. Petersburg
It was the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Today, it forms part of a complex of buildings housing the Hermitage Museum, which is one of the four world’s leading museums.
一座通體由琥珀和黃金裝飾而成的宮殿，共有12塊護壁鑲板和12個柱腳，總重至少達6噸，全都由當時比黃金還貴12倍的琥珀建成，被譽為“ 世界第8 大奇跡”。
The Amber Room, St. Petersburg
Dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World”,it is a chamber decorated in 12 amber panels (with a total weight of 6 tons) backed with gold leaf and 12 columns.At that time amber was 12 times more expensive than gold.
Red Square, Moscow
The oldest city square in Moscow which has witnessed the history of Russia and houses the famous Lenin’s Mausoleum. Many major events and festive celebrations are also held here.
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