At the midway point of the semester, RLASP Russia students from Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Vladimir traveled to Sochi by train for a week-long stay in the resort town. While the city is most well-known across the globe for its hosting of the 2014 Winter Games, Sochi holds a special place in my heart for its nature. During our stay we learned about Sochi’s agriculture and economy while enjoying its beautiful scenery.
On one of our first days in Sochi, our group went hiking together in Sochi National Park. We slowly walked up a winding mountain road, passing by beautiful fields and valleys along the way. The final few kilometers were quite steep, but the view from the cliff at the summit made the journey all worth it. The way down proved to be significantly more difficult, because the hillside was wet and muddy, as a storm had hit the night before. Even though we all very carefully navigated down the hill, I am positive that every one of us fell at least once! On our walk to dinner at a nearby restaurant in the park, we swam in a freezing river while admiring a beautiful waterfall. I don’t think I have ever experienced such cold water before!
We spent a morning visiting a tea plantation. We first learned about the cultivation and harvesting of tea. Then, we were treated to a traditional folk music performance over sweet rolls, jams, figs, and different types of teas. We, the students, were even included in the performance, and danced and played instruments with our host. While I prefer Russian classical music to folk music, it was a heart-warming experience that brought us great laughter and warm memories.
Trout and Beekeeping
We visited a trout aquafarm, where we learned about trout farming production and the life cycle of the fish. We were even able to feed the fish ourselves! Later in the day we visited a beekeeping facility in Sochi, where we learned about the medicinal uses of honey and taste-tested different types of honey, as well as honey-based wines.
On our free day, my friend and I took a trip to the ski resort Gorky Gorod to hike in the Caucasus Mountains. To get to the resort, we took a short eletrichka (train) to Adler, a town not far from Sochi. There are hiking trails available of varying difficulties. Gondola lifts, or cable cars, are available to lift visitors from one level to the next. The mountain views were breathtaking. I would recommend a visit to Gorky Gorod over Roza Khutor for hiking.
At Gorky Gorod, we had the opportunity to take a mid-day break from hiking by riding the Gorky Fly, the longest zip line in Russia! At an altitude of 2300 meters, it is also the country’s highest zipline. At 80 km/hour, you fly through a mountain valley while enjoying the beautiful view of the Caucasus Mountains. And don’t worry – the attraction passes Austrian safety standards!
By: Rachel Hutchison
Program: Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program (RLASP), St. Petersburg, Russia
Term: Fall 2019