The city of Sochi, a coastal town on the Black Sea known for its unusually mild winters, was an unlikely choice for the 2014 Olympic Games.
When CNN correspondent Amanda Davies arrived in Russia to cover the games on Wednesday, the roads were dry and new arrivals at the airport were walking around without coats.
“Sochi isn’t your normal Winter Olympic venue … it’s known as the Russian Riviera,” she said.
“It’s bright sunshine all the way for the next few days.”
Sochi is one of the few places in Russia with a subtropical climate, with warm to hot summers and mild winters. The United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) notes that is “usually has as many as 200 sunny days a year. Temperatures average 24 C during the day in the summer and 5 C in the winter.”
About two million people visit the the Greater Sochi area each summer, drawn by its beaches and proximity to the Caucasus Mountains.The skating events will be held along the coastline, while ski events will be held into the mountains.
Nearly every venue was built from scratch, according to National Geographic magazine, at a cost of $50 billion — a figure that is likely a low estimate.
Most of the venues are within walking distance of each other.
Sochi, a city of more than 400,000, is located in the federal district of Krasnodar Krai and is itself divided into four districts: the Tsentralny City District, the Lazarevsky City District, the Khostinsky City District, and the Adlersky City District.
It is home to people of over 100 nationalities, the USSA says.
Nearby is the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s also possible to visit Joseph Stalin’s summer home, now a private hotel, located north of Sochi.