The Sochi Olympics are kicking off and should be a fine time and hopefully incident-free aside from the misplacing of 30,000 condoms and such.
I myself missed going to the 2012 London Summer Games because I never got an invitation. Apparently Canada already had their gymnastic team in place.
I’ve been to Russia six times, although never to Sochi. I was always in St. Petersburg, with one side trip to Moscow. I’d been fascinated by the country since the days when Father David Bauer’s Canadian National Team had such trouble against the teams they’d ice from there. And when the 1972 Summit Series took place, I was beside myself.
I was there in 1991 with my first wife and two kids, when the Soviet Union was collapsing, and I was there when the new Russia was rebuilding. I’d see the elderly and often wonder how they and their family and friends could live a life where at any time, a knock on the door could mean ten years in a Siberian work camp for usually the most pathetic of reasons, like being seen eating candy that was favoured by some of Stalin’s enemies.
I married my second wife, Luci, in Russia. And the day after the fairly unusual ceremony, I had to return to Canada and never saw her for a full year until she was able to join me.
I spent a winter there, saw hockey games, drank beer, and once was invited to a school to talk about Canada to young Russian students in an English class.
Russia can be difficult, it’s not North America, and although they now have supermarkets and fancy cars and luxury movie theatres, it’s still very different, and your patience can get a serious workout.
I strongly suggest that maybe sometime, instead of going to Mexico or on a Carribean cruise, go to Russia instead. You’d be amazed.
Here’s a little clip of Russian good samaritans.