Photo Courtesy of Lewis Johnson
“For the 8th time in my career, I’ve witnessed the power of the Olympic spirit, not just on the field, but in the ability to unite people from across the globe. We come together, work together and find our common ground as humans, despite our language, culture, religion, etc. The fear, concern and safety of visiting Russia was replaced over the past couple weeks with smiles from thousands of volunteers, including one man I met when I first arrived, who said to me in broken English, “This is the new Russia and I hope you enjoy your visit. We are open to the world and we welcome you.” I felt that and I will be back to Russia. You should come see for yourself.
Cosmopolitan is a word that fits what I experienced here in the mountains above Sochi, Russia. I stayed in Krasnaya Polanya and it’s only a 5-minute walk away from Gorky Gorod Mall with more than 10 restaurants and bars. The mall is not only home to several brand name stores, but there is also an indoor beach on top floor with sands imported all the way from Dubai! You have to see the wave pool, water park and volleyball courts. It’s simply amazing!
Red Fox Restaurant (Photo Courtesy of Lewis Johnson)
If someone dropped you off in the village of Rosa Khutor — in the Mountain Cluster of the Sochi Olympics — you get the feeling like you’re in western Europe. Everything is brand new. All of the village’s hotels, restaurants and nightlife were created for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The charm of this luxurious mountain ski village is amazing especially the panoramic views from a ski lift. You’ll love it!
So far, here are my 3 favorite spots to have a meal and a beverage, and chill with a nice mix of locals and fans of the Olympics.
Lewis Johnson with the US Women’s Bobsled Team: (l-r) Elana Meyers, Lauryn Williams, Aja Evans, Jazmine Fenlator and Lolo Jones (center). (Photo Courtesy of Lewis Johnson)
Traveling must be in your blood to cover the Olympics. Since I was a kid growing up in Austin, TX, I remember seeing the koala — which is not a bear — on the Qantas Airlines commercials on TV. I would think, “I wanna go there one day!” Well, after the disappointment of not making an Olympic team as an 800-meter runner, my Olympic dream did come true in 2000 as an NBC broadcaster. My childhood dream became a reality when I made that trek around the world to Sydney as a Track & Field Analyst for the network’s coverage of the Games down under. Fast forward to 2014, and I’ve just arrived in Sochi, Russia, for my 8th Olympic assignment as the bobsled, luge and skeleton reporter.
You can feel the tension with the increase of security as these Sochi Games begin. Most of us veteran broadcasters and globe trotters will stay alert, but carry on as usual to experience another memorable Winter Olympics, which will be more than covering our events and going to the hotel. I’m going to hang out with people who want to embrace Sochi’s culture, including the food, wine and nightlife. It will be my way of exploring the host city and Russia. That’s what I’ll be writing about for the next few weeks.
With 10 days to go until the Sochi Winter Olympics, we’re reminded that the Olympics represent an undisputed symbol of peak athleticism, entertainment and global cooperation. Also undisputed, however, is that the Olympics are consistently mired in controversy. The level of controversy varies from game to game. It can involve anything from performance-enhancing drugs and corrupt judges to political boycotts and most terrifyingly, assassinations.
The Sochi Winter Olympics are no exception to either end of the spectrum. There have been stories of self-sacrifice and excruciating decisions (Lindsey Vonn’s injury, for one) and ultimately triumph. There have been reports of heightened security and terrorism alerts, of wasted funds and a corrupt political environment.
It would be irresponsible to ignore the controversial political climate of the Sochi Games as it involves the world’s safety. However we must remain hopeful and optimistic that these 16 days will inspire the world.
In the spirit of the Olympic Games, here are some fun and hopefully inspirational facts:
Ralph Lauren once again designed the USA Olympic team uniforms. All of the uniforms were made exclusively in the USA, specifically in Oregon (yarn), Pennsylvania (spinning), North Carolina (material prep) and Los Angeles (assembly line).
We all know that the fourth-place finisher does not get a medal, but he/she does not go home empty-handed. The first eight athletes in each event receive a diploma from the IOC (International Olympics Committee).
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
Beating out Istanbul and Madrid, Tokyo has been tapped by the International Olympic Committee to be the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The race was really between the Istanbul and Tokyo — Madrid had been eliminated in a first-round ballot. The final tally wasn’t even close; Tokyo easily won by 24 votes.
In case you didn’t know, the last time Tokyo was host city for the Summer Olympics was in 1964. The city has now gained the unique distinction of becoming the first Asian city to host the games twice. City officials are already taking proactive steps to revitalize the city’s waterfront, where the Olympic Village will be situated, but there are several reasons why Tokyo is already a great tourist destination. We love the Japanese and Tokyo’s amazing attractions, including Mori Arts Centre, Ueno Park, Tokyo National Museum, Tsukiji Fish Market and Imperial Palace East Gardens.
But let’s not forget Brazil. With the 2020 Summer Olympics still a ways off, many sports fans are focused on Brazil as the hot destination for the next few years. Not only will Rio de Janeiro host the 2016 Summer Olympics, but it will also be one of 12 cities to host soccer matches for the FIFA World Cup 2014. If you’re a soccer fan, don’t delay! FIFA is already accepting applications for World Cup tickets. Score big and make plans to visit Brazil’s World Cup cities.
By Mommy Points
With the 2014 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony set for February 7, 2014, the Games in Sochi, Russia, are now officially less than a year away. If you want to be at the Opening Ceremony, or one of the other 15 types of winter events that will take place during the 2014 Games, then mark this Monday, February 11, 2013, in bold letters on your calendar.
The public sale for remaining individual event tickets begins promptly at noon eastern on Monday. This will be a first come, first serve sale, so in order to have the best shot at getting what you are after, don’t be late getting online on Monday. Event tickets start at $22 USD and go up into the hundreds of dollars for more popular events like ice skating and men’s hockey finals. If you are interested in a ticket + hotel package deal, some of those are already available now.
The official website to purchase Olympic tickets and packages depends on your country of residence, but those residing in countries such as the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia must use CoSport.com. If you plan to participate in the ticket sale, I recommend registering for an account with CoSport now to avoid any potential delays on Monday. Also, keep in mind that only Visa cards are accepted for official Olympic ticket sales.
And get a glimpse of future Games in our The Olympics: A Look Ahead slideshow!
Summer Hull is the founder of MommyPoints.com, a site dedicated to helping a community of readers discover how to travel the world at a greatly reduced cost, primarily by taking advantage of current travel promotions and maximizing travel rewards programs.
Photography by Getty Images
Before the mass exodus from London’s Olympic Park, the Spice Girls, The Who, One Direction, Pet Shop Boys, George Michael — and other notable British singers and musicians — graced the stage in Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 closing ceremonies.
And just in case you didn’t know, Team USA will take home the most medals. US Olympic athletes won a total of 104 medals: 46 gold, 29 silver and 29 bronze. Team GB came in 3rd after China, winning a total of 65 Olympic medals.
During the closing ceremonies, spectators got a taste of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. But before you start making your travel plans to Rio, we suggest you think about the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, scheduled for February 7 – 23, 2014.
If cold weather isn’t your cup of tea, then relive the magic of the past 2 weeks and visit Britain’s Olympic venues, including Wembley Stadium and Wimbledon. Take a tour of Britain’s most amazing spots with 2012 gold medalist and Olympic swimmer Rebecca Soni, Olympic Soccer champion Heather Mitts and other world-renowned athletes.
Travel with gymnast Nastia Liukin to Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and Westminster Abbey. Explore Scotland’s great outdoors with Track and Field champions Bryan Clay and Jeremy Campbell.
Visit Essex, Glasgow, Greenwich, Coventry, Manchester and Wales. Discover why US Olympic athletes enjoy visiting Britain as they show you some of their favorite spots in our London 2012 web series.
We asked 1992 Olympic gold-medalist and TV personality Summer Sanders to tell us all about her trip to this year’s Olympics in London. She told us about her favorite British treat (tea time, anyone?) and who she was most star-struck to meet (we don’t blame her!).
Summer offers a first-hand opinion on how this year’s Olympics are so different from previous games and what it was like to witness history at the Aquatic Center.
Read Summer’s Postcard from London with her tips on where to stay, what to do and what to pack!
For more tips on traveling to London, check out these must-see neighborhoods, ideas for day trips and tips from Anthony Bourdain’s trip to London.
Surely, your eyes have been glued to the constant Olympics coverage. We can’t get enough of London either. But give it a week, and you’ll probably be tired of swimming and gymnastics. Well, we don’t blame you — that’s why we’ve done some research on the Olympic sports you didn’t know existed. And we’ve got the info on when and where they’re happening so you don’t miss a minute of the action. See all the Olympic venues at a glance with our photo gallery.
If you’re lucky enough to be in London, like our deals & rewards blogger Mommy Points, then you’re probably looking for things to do for free. Well, look no further, because tickets are not required for areas of the Race Walk route. Get there early, since space will definitely fill up quickly. Find more tips for enjoying the Olympics on a budget here!
By Mommy Points
I didn’t realistically consider attending the 2012 Olympic Games in London until June of this year. I am normally the type of person who plans big trips like this way in advance, so taking this trip on the spur of the moment was out of character for me. However, it was actually surprisingly simple to plan this exciting last-minute trip to the Olympics — without breaking the bank.
By now, anyone who could get to the Olympics is already there. But the following tips are just as handy for your next big trip. READ MORE