This blog post is going to be cut short precipitously at some point, as we’re sitting in the Main Media Center waiting for Nat to download some photos before we head off to the Opening Ceremonies. First of all: the Main Media Center is ridiculous. Ridiculously big. I can’t believe someone designed this, and then built it. On the other hand, it is completely packed with journalists – we couldn’t even find a place to sit until a nice guy from the Boston Globe told me that his colleague had left for the day so I could take his spot. That turned into maybe a collaboration about environmental issues – stay tuned!
Here’s the Main Media Center from the outside:
hard at work inside (well not really, since I’m writing this blog post):
But, let’s see. I arrived! The worst part at the airport is that they were putting our bags onto the luggage conveyor belt at a truly glacial pace. They would put ten bags on – slowllllly – and then the conveyor would whir around for a while, with no further bags being loaded, and then it would stop. “They’re on a tea break,” a British reporter commented. Then it would start back up again and ten more lucky people would finally get to leave.
Outside, palm trees.
I took the bus up to the Gorki complex, where we are staying. It’s almost an hour ride on the much-discussed extremely expensive highway. There were perimeter fences with rolls of barbed wire at the top, and armed soldiers in many places, just standing there watching.
The Gorki complex itself is a pretty strange place. They built it with some lofty goals of luxury, and the buildings are huge. The place has a pretty nice feel to it for a pedestrian – big open walkways between the buildings, nice views of the mountains. But the scale of the buildings are totally weird to me. It’s like if you took a normal design, and stretched it by a factor of two. All of the stories are actually two stories tall. All the windows and doors are twice as wide as normal. It’s like it’s built for a giant. I guess that is one kind of luxury!
The buildings definitely aren’t finished. Our room is nice – big bed, nice sheets, the bathroom is okay, they even gave me hangers for the closet when I asked. After what we had been warned about this is, like, amazing. We’re really happy in our room. Our hotel has a big lobby, too. A nice bar. A restaurant with delicious food. It’s one of the fancier places that I’ve stayed.
But there’s digging going on outside. Just because our room is done doesn’t mean that all of them are. And one of the hotels in our little cluster isn’t even open at all. Even though the room functions well enough, the details aren’t finished: baseboards awkwardly slapped on, heaters that need to be fixed, a refrigerator that hasn’t been hooked up yet. It’s a shame that the hotels aren’t finished, because this is their big day! With this workmanship they might fall apart soon, and what’s the point of finishing in a shoddy manner now if you just have to rebuild later?
We live in a cluster that is a gondola ride up from the Gorki “city”. I can see it being bustling in the future, but right now there are no shops or anything in town. So it’s deserted. People go to work during the day, and the only people in the streets are the workmen rushing to finish things up.
Anyway, consensus is that although things are not finished, they’re pretty nice. Nicer than I had expected. No complaints.
Okay this was a messy and disorganized and inarticulate post. Sorry! more later on the venues and other fun stuff.