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Entries in Russia (51)


Park Inn By Radisson Cosponsors Familiarization Trip To Sochi With Destination Sochi






Destination Sochi is offering a 4 day/3 night familiarization trip to Sochi from September 23-26, 2012.  The Park Inn by Radisson is a co-sponsor of the trip. The trip, featuring 2 nights in Rosa Khutor at the Park Inn and 1 night in central Sochi, will cost $1,695.  All meals, accommodation and ground transportation in Sochi will be included.

Guests will be greeted at the airport and escorted to our motor coach for the ride to Krasnaya Polyana and the Park Inn by Radisson Rosa Khutor.  There will be a champagne welcome reception at the Park Inn, with a welcome speech by General Manager Harald Buerkle, followed by a tour of the new Radisson Hotel and the Park Inn.

Later that evening, Destination Sochi will host a dinner at the Park Inn. Monday's highlights will include viewing the mountain cluster at Rosa Khutor and a tour of Gornaya Karusel resort, an unforgettable Russian banya experience and dinner at a top mountain restaurant.


Tuesday, the 24th, we will depart after breakfast for Adler to view the Olympic Park, view official transportation venues and central Adler. Then our route will follow the picturesque Black Sea coast about 25 kilometers to central Sochi.  We will stop at a locally prominent restaurant for a genuine Caucasian lunch followed by a tour of the city center.  

The tour will be full hosted with bilingual guides (English, French and Russian).

Please contact us for a complete itinerary and also to reserve your place. The tour will be limited to 40 guests, so make your reservation as soon as possible.

Contact via email:

Call +7 962 859 1776



Andrei Ponamarenko 

I recently wrote an article about Larisa Alexnodrova that was published by the Ski Channel.  The article has been picked up by several other websites in the United States, including one devoted to surfing.

Yesterday, I noticed that is carrying the article with a Russian translation. However, for unknown reasons the poster had removed my name as the author. This is unusual.  Andrei Ponamanreko, the owner of an English language school, had posted the link to on Facebook.  So, I wrote to Andrei, politely telling him that it was fine to use my article, but to please ask the administrator of the site to credit me as the author.  He agreed.

This morning, I looked at the site again to see if I had been credited as the author. I saw this had not happened.  I also saw that the article had been altered.  The final line of my article had been changed.  The original version:


"If you want to catch up to Larisa, she can often be found at the Sochi Expats Club parties, telling us about her latest travels."

The new version:

"If you are interested in meeting with Larissa and talk in English about her recent travels, come to the English Club (www., st. Park 19, ie 239-44-49)."

Only when I read this did I realize that Andrei Ponamarenko had posted the article himself as advertising for his school.

I wrote to Mr Ponamarenko and explained to him that the article was the intellectual property of the Ski Channel and Bruce Talley and that he did not have permission to alter the article and use if for his commerical purposes.  I explained that the law is clear on this subject and that what he had done was intellectual piracy.  I asked him to change the aritcle to its original form or remove it.

A short time later, I was forwarded a link to a video about Mr. Ponamarenko's school.  A few weeks ago, i went to his school, which I have done occasionally over the last 7 months, to speak English and to talk about American culture.  When I got there, Mr. Ponamarenko said that they would lke to interview me for an advertisement.  I had little time to think about it or ask what the content would be. They interviewed me for a few minutes. Today, I saw the video clip.  The viewer is told that I am at the school constantly teaching students.  This is false. I have been there twice in the last 3 1/2 months.  I have never been paid and I am there not as a teacher (I am not a teacher, nor have I ever been).  

So, Mr. Ponamarenko is purpusefully using my image to mislead people.  I believe in truth in adversiing. Also, I have carefully built my image over a number of years.  I have appeared at the World Russia Forum in Washington D.C.  I have been interviewed by the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, Delovaya Gazeta Yug and Real Business.  I have developed an English language tourist application for Sochi. I have a video channel on Sochi in English.  I write this blog and a private newsletter about Sochi that is read by many Olympic organization officials, media company executives and journalists the world over.  My information is positive, accurate and helpful for the many foreigners coming to Sochi.  For many westerners, I am Mr. Sochi.  

I hope readers will entreat Mr. Ponamarenko to desist.



Mandarin Cafe and Nanuli Bigvava




Recently, I was invited by Nanuli Bigvava, the owner of the Mandarin Cafe in Sochi for a visit.  Her place is in on busy, central Vinogradnaya Street.  Despite its very good local reputation, I had never eaten there.   Nanuli, who is originally from Sukhum, Abkhazia, sets the gold standard for charming hostesses in Sochi.  Her warm and inviting presence alone makes Mandarin Cafe worth a visit.  



Nanuli invited me and several friends to sample the menu on her dime. That is pretty unusual here, anyway. Then we tried the food and I was surprised by the diversity and sophistication.  We had several salads, including one of fresh greens, avocado, tomato, shrimp and strawberry and, also, a seafood salad that really stood out.  I also tried the rib eye, which exceeded my expectations, with a surprisingly dry Russian red wine, Grand Vostok, from Krasnodar Region's wine producing district.  My companion had a simple, but very good warm spinach soup and enjoyed trying several of Nanuli's kitchen's deserts.  Given her heritage, I expected Nanuli's menu to be dominated by food of the Caucasus.  When I asked her about this, she quickly pointed out that in addition to her regular menu, her kitchen was ready to prepare the distinctive fare of Abkhazia.   



Nanuli has always been interested in food; she loved preparing dishes for her family growing up in her native Abkhazia. So there was no question in  her mind about the direction her life should take after she finished high school.  She came to Sochi to study at a culinary school.  (At that time, Abkhazia and Russia were both parts of the Soviet Union, so there was no border.  Now, the border between the two sits just past the Olympic Park.) Nanuli got married, had a son and opened a cafe in Sochi.  However, with conflict in Abkhazia in 1992, she sold her holdings to help out family displaced there.  

Eventually in 2010, Nanuli reopened in Sochi, this time the fashionable Mandarin Cafe.  Her menu is eclectic for Sochi, but she clearly is imaginative and likes to challenge herself and her staff to show something to diners that they don't regularly see in Sochi.  Nanuli eventually divorced, but wanted her son,  Slava,  to have an American education, so at the age of 19, he went to the United States and studied, later receiving his university degree there. He now works as an auditor for an oil company in Houston, Texas.  Slava, who is her biggest cheerleader and advisor, helps her with ideas that he sees in restaurants in the United States.  Indeed, it was Slava who reached out to me across 9 time zones and suggested that I meet with his mother.  

Nanuli is already thinking about the thousands of international diners who will come to Sochi.  There are plans for new international dishes on the menu and she openly solicited ideas from me about what American and western travelers might like to experience in the Mandarin Cafe.  This is not a one-size-fits-all, take-it-or-leave-it restaurant owner.  She has also begun the planning to get involved in catering for the Olympic period.  



Tom Kehoe, American Expert On Food Distribution, Visits


Tom Kehoe of K & B Seafood and Seaflight Logistics with Nanouly Bigvava (center) owner of the Mandarin Cafe in Sochi


Tom Kehoe, the Chief Executive Officer of K & B Seafood and Partner at Seaflight Logistics, both of New York, visited Sochi with a group of foreign executives, including an official of a French seafood firm, and several from one of Russia's leading seafood distribution firms.  Mr. Kehoe has enjoyed a long career in the seafood distribution business. His business was built in New York City, one of the most competitive and innovative business environments in the world, and it has grown to shipping products to every time zone in the world.

Mr. Kehoe got involved in the seafood distribution business in the United States in the 1970's, when he began shipping Maine lobsters to New York.  Mr. Kehoe and his firm have been successful in New York, despite the logistical difficulties of distributing expensive and highly perishable food items in a large and congested city to an exacting and sophisticated clientele.  With Mr. Kehoe founding K & B Seafood, his business grew to other seafood products and K&B took on the role of supplying Alaskan seafood to the New York market and eventually supplying seafood nationwide.   Among their specialities, K & B feature crab, scallops and other shellfish, including more than 50 varieties of oysters. In recent years, he and K & B have expanded internationally and now their products are distributed in Russia and to many of the nation's finest restaurants.  

The understanding of the complicated processes of moving perishable cargo from remote locations through customs and to multiple destinations through congested traffic led him to found Seaflight Logistics in 2009.  The company is a freight forwarder and specializes in the global logistics of perishables.

Mr. Kehoe's interests and career is not limited to food distribution, he also serves as a Trustee of the Village Board of Northport, New York, a bucolic and affluent town on Long Island.  He is Commissioner of Commerce, where he works with the business community and also Commissioner of Sanitation, where he is responsible for the policy and budgets of the waste water treatment facility.  Mr. Kehoe is a member of the world-famous New York Athletic Club, founded in 1866, and known as "the world's greatest athletic club'.  The NYAC has sponsored hundreds of prominent athletes, who have cumulatively won hundreds of medals at Olympic competitions, including 7 gold medals  (13 overall- more than most nations!) alone at the Beijing Summer Games and who have won scores of national championships in boxing, wrestling, track and field, rowing, fencing and other sports.  Mr. Kehoe's participation does not end at the sideline though. He was a competitive swimmer, is a surfer and holds two 3rd Degree Black Belts. Two of his daughters were elite fencers and one is now the coach at the NYAC, where one of his sons is a heavyweight boxer.

Mr. Kehoe's background gives him an understanding of the challenges faced in moving people and products. He knows how to work effectively with city, state and federal officials and he has a strong background in sports.  All of this drew him to Sochi, where we talked about some of the challenges that Sochi will face as the Winter Games approach.  First, he expressed delight at the verdant beauty of Sochi, saying that when he got off the airplane, he did "not expect to see palm trees in Russia!"  and then spoke about the scale of construction here.  I asked him what his approach would be in moving people and perishables during the Games.  He told me he is "am acutely aware of what congestion does to perishables, schedules and the movement and safe passage of our most precious commodity, people" and that his firm  "has staff entirely devoted to these issues"  He went on to say that working with the administration here in Sochi will be crucial to make sure that planning is complete.  He said that an understanding of the needs of local business will be required to satisfy the visitors' expectations.  We talked at length about challenges he has faced and novel solutions that Seaflight has developed in multi jurisdictional shipping and distribution.  

Since Mr. Kehoe returned to New York, we have spoken by telephone and he has expressed interest in the potential in Sochi, even suggesting to an institutional investor to travel to Sochi to investigate the possibilities of hotel development.  He sees what I do:  a city on the cusp of developing into an international and year-around destination.


Victory Day In Sochi

Today, May 9, Sochi observed Victory Day, the day of the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.  A moment of silence was observed at the central memorial.  Sochisiders spent the day in the parks, at a concert on Administration and on the streets.  The cafes and restaurants have been filled all day with families and parties as people celebrated the beautiful weather and the victory won at incredible costs.  

I met Sochi Mayor Anatoli Nikolayevich Pakhomov near Riviera Park at a celebration honoring some of the city's surviving veterans of what is known as the Great Patriotic War.


Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov and Veterans