Archive for January, 2014

Sochi Olympic Winter Games 2014

I am sure this will be a super Winter Games. Exotic location by the Black Sea, “Russian Riviera”. My last visit to one of the resorts by the Black Sea was in 1967 – long time ago. Varna, Bulgaria. That was the week of the 7-day (Israel/Arab) war in June 1967. We arriving from the Netherlands, which was pro-Israel, wanting to also visit Odessa, Russia. But no can do ! Because of that war. Instead, at that time we took the boat to Istanbul, Turkey.

Now Sochi [ ] very near the Georgian border also on the Black Sea. There is good things, and there is bad: The Good – shortly before the end of last year, the Russian Parliament has accorded Amnesty to close to 25,000 prisoners, many of those political opponents of the Regime. (Appreciated gesture.) And many newly constructed super facilities and resort hotels. The Bad – the Head of Russia is now accused of corruption as by-product of the upcoming Olympic Winter Games, in the order of close to 30 billion dollar. (But then again, who is not ?) [Needs to be verified.]. More bad are the expected threats to the Games. Latest news: [ _news/2014/01/23/22418216-pentagon-will-send-two-warships-into-black-sea-in-case-of-olympic-terror –]

I like the Sochi official web site for the Games = [ ]. Neat little videos showing the mascots. Among those, the Leopard.

The Amur Leopard (from the most easterly Amur region of Russia by the Pacific) one  of the very endangered wildlife species. Also, my most recent symbolic adoption on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund (I have a half a dozen of those adoptions). Almost the same day that I adopt my beautiful Amur Leopard, one more of those charismatic big cats has been killed in China [ ]. Very distasteful, all that killing of endangered wildlife !!!amurLeopard0004


To get a decent flight from Victoria, Vancouver Island south – even if it’s the same coast line – to Mexico, Puerto Vallarta (or anywhere thereabouts) is not so easy. Most flights take two days. But, good news: it can be done in one day. I went November/December 2012 to spend six weeks in Sayulita [ ], north of Puerto Vallarta, Mex. Taking West Jet Airlines. From Victoria International Airport (YYC). Meaning, get up early in the morning, catch the Victoria Airporter Bus from the nearest Hotel in Victoria (cost is only C$19) to Vic Airport. Flight leaves at 7:00 AM, arriving Calgary AB 9:20 AM (this is only a one-hour flight; Alberta is a different time zone already). At Calgary (which is the hub for all flights going to Pto. Vallarta) there is a good 4 hours layover at the airport. Met my old friend there at Tim Horton’s Cafe. From Calgary at 2:00 PM to Pto. Vallarta non-stop to arrive there at around 7:00 PM, when it’s dark in Mexico. Sayulita is a smaller fishing village and tourist hub for surfers just north of Puerto Vallarta [ ].

When arriving at Pto. Vallarta airport, it is not necessary to catch a taxi cab (to go north) by traversing the highway and walk over the overpass to the other side. Taxis are just outside waiting once one gets through the airport security and bypass all the other commercial facilities (trying to sell you time-shares or other). There are also inside the airport taxi booths where you can rent a taxi. Not necessary, though. All taxis are controlled at the airport exit, so no over-charging can occur. There are standard fares for Sayulita US$50. Takes a couple hours by cab through the jungle and in the dark. I was lucky and used to always travel alone. Plus had informed myself beforehand via which villages we should travel. The young taxi driver was very friendly (as all Mexicans are), amused that I was nervous. When he stopped at one of those large grocery chain stores OXO on the way, asking if I want to buy some groceries for the next morning, I declined (“no way do I get out of this cab.”) Arriving Sayulita around 9 PM. In the dark we finally found the building, a big mansion uphill, where I had reserved my suite. Of course, the main gate was closed. Lucky, my taxi driver had a cell phone and could call inside. Lucky also, the US owners were still in the building that night. So, we could get the gate code to enter. The young man even carried my two small suit cases upstairs to my suite. Return from Sayulita to Pto. Vallarta Aeropuerto take the bus, it is cheap, about 40 minutes or less.