After two-plus weeks of reporting from Sochi, we asked Janelle to answer a few questions about her trip.
Outside of a sporting event, what was your most memorable moment in Sochi?
My most memorable moment was visiting the Black Sea. The waters were fairly calm and surprisingly pretty clear near the shoreline. I loved the black rocks that covered the beach. They were beautiful. The Russians did an incredible job with the promenade that hugs the beach. I sat on a bench and just stared at the sea. It was so peaceful and tranquil. I thought about all the countries surrounding me: Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Ukraine.
I thought... I can’t believe I’m in Russia right now.
Tell us about the most authentically Russian food that you tried.
Borscht. It’s a popular Russian soup. It can be served cold or hot. I ate the hot version. It reminded me of San Francisco.
The soup is served in a big bread bowl, just like clam chowder in San Francisco, but there was one major notable difference -- a shot of vodka on the side. I wasn’t sure what to do with the shot. Pour it in the soup? Drink it on the side? It was too strong for me, so I just gave it to someone else. The soup is beet based, which made me hesitant because I don’t like beets, but the soup tasted like a rich minestrone. It was delicious.
What surprised you the most about Russia/the Russian people?
The Russians are such kind and friendly people. When you think of USA and Russia, you think of this big rivalry. We have different political viewpoints, and when it comes to Olympic sports, they are some of our biggest competitors. But the people are so warm, welcoming, and genuinely so happy we are visiting their great country.
As for security, I felt so safe. They did an outstanding job. I mean incredible! You would have to see it to believe it. They were so meticulous with security. Even though the security guards saw my face 100 times, they still checked my bags and my credentials, and always with a smile. The Russians have so much to be proud about.
I wish I had more free time in Sochi. I would have loved to have spent it with them and explored more of Sochi. I will always remember this trip. It was exhausting, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will treasure forever. Thank you Russia!