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Dispatches from Sochi: Hotels and hangouts

2/5/2014

SOCHI, Russia -- I consider myself lucky. My media hotel actually resembles a hotel. I didn't have water for a while on Tuesday, but I have towels and my room even got cleaned. Again, I am lucky because the accommodations situation here for many is dreadful.

You've seen the stories of brown water, no showers (which may be a blessing when there is brown water coming out of the taps), doors without locks, shoddy construction and, worst of all, unresponsive management.

It is easy to blame Sochi Olympic organizers and speculate about rampant Russian corruption, but where is the IOC in all of this? This is the IOC's party and it is supposed to be overseeing everything, right? Apparently not. Did the IOC really not see this coming? Did it run out of money? Doubtful. This is an organization that charges $5,000 for media parking passes during the Games. Who oversees the overseer?

I wonder if any IOC member is staying at a hotel where the water looks like urine and the doors don't lock.

  • I found a quirky place for dinner Tuesday night near ESPN's liveshot location about a 20-minute walk from the Main Press Center and Olympic Park. It's called Milano Pizzeria, but I don't think anyone there was from Milan.

    The waitress was welcoming, cheery and eager to show us her newly learned English skills. She wanted to know how to say "Bon appetite" in English. I suggested saying, "Just say, 'Enjoy your meal' or 'I hope you like your dinner.'" She asked me to write it out on a napkin in English and I then helped her pronounce it. I feel like Professor Doolittle of Sochi. I'm proud to say she may now greet English-speaking diners with a distinct Long Island accent.

    When I return, I hope to be greeted with a loud and proud, "Yo, Arty! How youse doing?"

    Arty Berko is an enterprise unit producer for ESPN. He is covering his 12th Olympics in Sochi.