The city of Sochi is technically 147 km (92 mi) long, but the port, best beaches and grooviest facilities are contained within the 12 km (7.5 mi) of Sochi proper. The city, at the heart of the 'Russian Riviera', is an oddity in many different ways. Oddest of all is that a city famous as a summer playground for the Russian elite should be hosting the Winter Olympics of 2014. Politics aside, there are good geographical and historical reasons why Sochi has reached this pinnacle of resort aspiration. Because it faces south, with the Caucasus Mountains rising immediately behind, it benefits from a microclimate that, in turn, has for a hundred years attracted interest from the most powerful people in Russia.
Russia's leaders, before and since the Revolution, invested heavily in the area, building homes for themselves, and ensuring that public funds maintained the quality of the city's facilities for all comers. Simultaneously, heavy industry was not allowed to infect the region, and even the international freight terminals are segregated. Visitors arriving by cruise liner are brought ashore at a quay full of sleek, ocean-going private yachts, moored in front of a series of cafes and restaurants whose colourful umbrellas and toned clientele have more in common with St Tropez than Stalin might have wished. The terminal building itself looks like a classical church, complete with steeple and spire - a very Russian touch. Aside from the winter sports available an hour away, Sochi's tree-lined avenues are full of wooded parks, good museums and galleries, and a non-stop, ubiquitous, cafe and club-culture to amuse visitors drawn to a year-round sequence of festivals - of fashion, music, art, and anything quirky that might come along. There are 250 spas in the area, 30 botanical gardens of real interest, and the Russian National Wildlife Sanctuary and Caucasian Biosphere Reserve up the road are within the (teclmical) city limits. Sochi boasts that it can keep anyone amused, anytime, and it's true. Hotels in Sochi