Want indoor entertainment: go to the circus
Every Russian (larger) town has one and so Sochi cannot stay behind. An oval or round shaped building with the traditional Russian circus inside (the "Zirk"). Though not many will appear, on cloudy, windy or rainy days one could be entertained here and enjoy a show that is constantly changing.
Traditional Russian Banya (sauna) in the wild
Russian Banya is the local variant of the traditional Sauna. However, Russian have the tendensy to overdo everything, so the heat is turned up to about 95 degrees Celsius and afterwards (or in between) one cools of in a 8 degrees Celsius mountain river. Most remarkable difference however is the "beating eachother up" custom within the Banya. With either oak branches or birch-tree branches one makes a bouquet and dips it in a bucket of hot water that stands on top of the Banya's stove. Then the other is smacked hard and swiftly with these branches on the back, the legs, the feet, the arms, the belly etc. Russians keep on shouting how healthy this treatment is, but ... my questions stays why it didn;t penetrate other sauna-cultures then? In the Netherlands, a country without it's own traditional sauna culture, all lucrative healthy items of Turkish, Finish etc. sauna is brought into many many sauna clubs, but this ... it stays in my opinion something masochistic (-:
Monument for doctors and nurses of "Sanatorii"
Near the West entrance of Park Riviera rises a large concrete bow up in the sky. At it's base one finds statues of doctors and nurses helping patients, taking an image out of one of the Sanatorii that are along Sochi's coast. These health institutes started out to be more hospital then hotel and slowly became the Sanatorii of today (some more hotel then hospital, others holding the balance on equal importance. In the second world war (great patriotic war) so many wounded came to these institutes that medicine and material ran out. Doctors however were inventive enough to start all kinds of natural materials from the direct vicinity of Sochi, in which - for example - even strong pinetree needles could be used for injections!
Sources, wells and healthy waters
Russians are health freaks and everything that is told to be healthy is often immediately a big success. Especially when related with nature, then Russians massively can go to the forest to pick berries or collect mushrooms. In spa's like Sochi, it's about mineral waters. The Caucasus mountains have many sources, wells and therefore healthy waters. The forests in the mountains of Sochi also and many go with bottles to fill them there. In the picture a particular nice one, with decorations in stone and wood.
Deep in the mountain, "Foronsuskii" Caves
Over millions of years the waters ran over an through the Caucasus mountains and - like in other mountainous places - created a marvel in the earth. Caves, like here at "Foronsuski", were only discovered in the last century. It's beautiful sculptures and strange dark rooms deep inside the mountains can now only be visited by tourists in the last decade. Hopefully, the guides and expolitators of these caves swiftly learn the immens fragility of the stalactites and stalagmites, as during our visit all of the visitors were touching and feeling the "seemingly hard" stone, breaking down a process of about a hundred years by one simple movement of a finger! Enjoying these wonders with the eye is however a joy and shows the magnificent forces of nature.
Numerous canyons and waterfalls
Land inwards along the full Sochi coastline, the mountains have a wide display of natural wonders. Especially the many small rivers create magnificent canyons and spectacular waterfalls in this neighbourhood. Already close to Central Sochi one can experience these wonders, when driving up into the mountains near Khosta. Here "Navalishenkoye Uchel" a small river has created a fairytale like canyon that can be visited along with a traditional Russian Banya (sauna).
Sochi and into the mountains
Krasnaya Polyana is famous and has deserved it's own webpage on VT in my albums. However the direct backland of Central Sochi is also worth a trip. Discover the mountain side, the beautiful rivers that run down in between green mountains and form amazing canyons or waterfalls. Over millions of years caves have been created and only a fraction is discovered and can be visited. The Caucasus mountains still hide many of their wonders, but with growing tourism, who knows, you're the next to find out how beautiful it is land inwards from the beaches of Central Sochi. In the next few Off the beaten path-tips, I'll take you along this mountain trail.