As a kid growing up, I was fascinated by the Winter Olympics albeit I grew up in Jamaica . As such, I’ve always wanted to attend one. So in 2002, I braved the cold of Salt Lake City and went to the games there. I had no tickets nor anything and no place to stay either, but it was fun nonetheless and I eventually got tickets to see Men’s Ice Hockey. Two of my friends who went but at a different time, end up meeting some folks from Salt Lake who are now my facebook friends as we have similar interest, but I’ve never met them face to face. So the Olympics do bring people together.
Of course I was bitten by the bug so in 2006, myself and another work colleague made our way to Turin, Italy for the Games as well. It was difficult to get tickets, but we queued up in the cold and eventually got tickets for the Women’s Ice Hockey game (seeing a pattern?) We actually had to walk all the way across town to see the game, but it was a lot of fun to visit that city as neither of us had been there before.
In 2010, I really wanted to see Apollo Ohno skate on the ice, so myself and three other colleagues journeyed to Vancouver, BC Canada; our goal was to see ice skating, but alas, we got no tickets at all, not even for Ice Hockey; duh, we were in Canada! Instead, we ended up partying downtown Vancouver all night and having way too much fun. We partied until it was time for our early morning flight back to Houston, TX.
And so, this brings us to the games in Sochi, Russia which are to be held next year (2014) from Friday, February 7, to Sunday February 23, 2014. Unlike other trips, this will take some planning as there are visas to be had. I really want to go to Sochi as I’ve not been to Russia, although I may end up there before the games next year. Luckily the visa rules are not as difficult as they used to since September 2012 for U.S. citizens.
If you are planning on going, you will more than likely need a Russian visa. There are may visa services available out there, but I suggest you start with the U.S. State Department if you are in the U.S. If you are outside of the U.S. find the similar service that is provided by your country. This will give you information on Russia and the requirements for your country’s citizens to visit there.
Some notes for U.S. citizens applying for tourist visas:
- You are eligible for a 3-year multiple entry visa
- It is no longer necessary to get a sponsorship letter
- You must have advance accommodations
- You must have tour operator information
- Carry your passport and visa with you at all times when in Russia
- You may be required to show proof of medical insurance, employment; the consulate will advise you once you contact them on all the required documentation
- Your visa must still be valid when exiting Russia; other you must re-apply for a visa which may take up to 20 days; usually visa are granted for up to six months
- The Application form can be found here; fill it out, then print it out
- There are several consulates in the U.S. contact the one closest to you for details on the application process as well as the cost of your visa:
2641 Tunlaw Rd. NW
Washington, DC 20007
Additional Russian Consulates:
Houston, TX: 1333 West Loop South, Ste.1300, Houston, TX 77027, Tel. 713-337-3300
New York, NY: 9 East 91 St., New York, NY 10128, Tel. 212-348-0926
San Francisco, CA: 2790 Green St., San Francisco, CA 94123, Tel. 415-928-6878 or 415-202-9800; and
Seattle, WA: 2323 Westin Building, 2001 6th Ave., Seattle, WA 98121, Tel. 206-728-1910.
Tickets went on sale in Russia for Russians on February 7, 2013 and will go on sale in the U.S. on February 11, 2013 from a company called CoSport. This is the same company that sold the tickets for the Summer Games in London, England. Tickets go on sale at noon ET and will start at $22 if you can get them.
Go to www.sochi2014.com if you are from other countries to see how to procure your tickets. If you can’t get tickets, its still alot of fun to visit an Olympic city during the Games. And remember, you need a Visa card as they take no other.
It’s a little different in Sochi as you will also need a Spectator Pass in addition to your tickets to gain access to the stadiums; you can get this pass by applying on the Official Sochi Web site.
One other way to get in, is to be a volunteer. Information can be found here. But hurry you only have another 18 days it seems to enter (by the end of February 2014).
So where exactly is Sochi, Russia (AER) and how does one get there?
Sochi, sits on the coast of the Black Sea, just north of Georgia in the south western part of Russia. Check out Google Maps here. It is served by the following airlines at the moment:
- Aeroflot (SU)
- Air Moldova
- Alitalia (AZ)
- KLM (KL)
- S7 Airlines
- TAP (TP)
- Turkish Airlines (TK)
- Ukraine International
- Ural Airlines
- Uzebekistan Airways (HY)
- Yakutia Airlines
Will you be in Sochi for the Games? Have you ever been to an Olympic event? Please leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.