Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Story of an Amazing Winter (Part 3)

Sochi International Airport is very small by size and I was expecting to spend a lot of time with the Immigration. It took only 5 minutes from immigration to baggage collection. Everything was so close. The immigration officer did not ask me any unnecessary question like other airports i.e. Heathrow. He just took my passport, stamped it, took a picture, gave me a piece of paper and that’s it. I was really surprised and certainly the best Airport experience so far. Very good second impression!!!

I was expecting someone from my team to meet me at the airport. Surprisingly no one was there to pick me up from the airport. Was feeling like I am in the middle of nowhere. Anyway asked at the Sochi 2014 help desk at the airport and explained my situation. They showed me how to get to my hotel Omega. I was told to take bus B6 from the airport to Olympic Park and change to WF8 (Work Force 8, Russians call it Wi-Fi 8). Took B6 to Olympic Park and had to walk 25 minutes to find WF 8. It was really difficult for me to walk with two luggages. Dropped my hand luggage twice and broke my laptop. Nice!!!

It was very early morning and very few people were in the bus. Bus driver dropped me at the last stop. I was really struggling to explain things in English because most of them were speaking Russian. Stupid me did not learn a single Russian word. Anyway had to spend nearly 40 minutes to find my hotel Omega. Checked in at the reception where they informed me that my roommate is at the room. My roommate was sleeping. 
He woke up and we introduced ourselves. Felt like I will have a good time in Sochi.

My roommate Luka, first morning after the breakfast

My roommate!!! His name is Luka Lampret and he is from Slovenia. We decided to go to the dining hall together to have our breakfast. Wanted to meet my colleagues asap but did not have their numbers so what I could do is??? Wait for them to contact me!!!

Very first Morning after the breakfast, 25/02/2014

Stay tuned to find out what happened with me in Russia………

< To be continued >

Monday, 21 April 2014

Story of an Amazing Winter (Part 2)

24/02/2014. And that’s it my five years and 2 months journey in UK has finished. What a journey it has been since January 2009. Worked and studied with some amazing people. Did not get the chance to say goodbye properly but I just want you to know that, you are part of my life and I will never forget you. Keep well and keep in touch.

Taken at Heathrow just before the final security check. 

It was a two part flight with two different airlines. First one was from London Heathrow to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines and the second one with Aeroflot from Istanbul to Sochi. Was really excited. Thanks to my friend Kawsar who was with me to say goodbye at the airport and surprisingly I was not sad. I had over 8 KG extra luggages but managed to send it without paying. Thanks to the power of smile.

And the journey began. Seriously I was feeling nervous about my upcoming journey. A journey to unknown. My plane took off from Heathrow at 16.10 (UK Standard time) and landed Istanbul at 22.00 (Istanbul local time). I had always been a good feeling about Istanbul and the people of Turkey until that day. No offence to my Turkish friends but I did not get a good hospitality from Istanbul Airport. I understand it was in the midnight and people were tired but smiling does not cost much.

At Istanbul Airport 24/02/2014

As I had to use two different airlines for my journey to Sochi, so I had to check in twice (one in Heathrow and other one is at Istanbul). I went to the Turkish Airlines counter to change the destination of my main luggage I felt like employees are there not to help customers but to spend time. They were talking to each other, checking facebook, talking over the phone etc. Anyway luckily I had enough time to sort that out as my second flight to Russia was at 1.05 AM.

Everything sorted and I was getting closer to be part of another history. It was announced that the boarding to flight SU 5339 will start from 12.15. We were waiting at the gate and nobody from the airline was there till 12.45. Then one man and a woman arrived at the desk. They did not say anything and no one was asking why the boarding has not started yet. I asked them at around 1.00 about the status of our flight and they replied that the plane has just arrived and it needs to refuel. Ops!!! Not a good start and definitely not a good first impression about Russia. Then they changed the gate and we had to walk over 15 minutes. I was really tired.

At around 1.45 the boarding started and we entered the plane. It was quick and the flight took off at 2.05 (One hour delay but no apology from the plane crews). We were scheduled to land at Sochi Internal Airport at 05.00 (Sochi local time) but because of the delay we were late for 15 minutes. Thanks to the Russian pilots. We landed at 05.15 Sochi local time. Arrived at the immigration in less than 10 minutes (I was really surprised). Went to the immigration and surprised.

Stay tuned to find out what happened with me in Russia………

< To be continued >

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Story of an amazing winter (Part - 1)

 Ahamed don’t go to Russia. You will die. Russians are not good, they are rude and angry. They will kill you. It’s too cold in Russia, you won’t survive. Russians don’t like brownies. What else??

Well these are some interesting comments that I heard when I told my colleagues and friends in UK about my plan for Sochi 2014 Winter Games. Was I scared? Surprisingly NO. I was trying to find out why I was not scared about my visit to Sochi, Russia. Here are some reasons that I found:

  • ·         Russia helped Bangladesh during 1971 liberation war
  • ·         It’s an international games and Russia will be careful whit those negative feelings about them
  • ·         I have a Russian friend in London. We did MBA together at Heriot-Watt University and he was not scary
  • ·         What else??? I can’t think of anything else.

Well after hearing all those nice comments about Russia and Russians my wish to go to Russia and check out the situation increased. I was determined that I will go and see it through.

As I worked for London 2012 Olympic and Paralymic Games as a Games Maker, it was an easy process for me and was an easy decision for the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee to decide on my application. Surprisingly they have chosen me for the Paralympic Games only.

I was a bit confused about the Russian visa as I heard that they are very strict and refuse visa but like all international volunteers I was invited by the Russian foreign ministry. Applied at their visa application center in London on 14th of January 2014 and received it by 21st of January. Easy without any complication (those who applied for UK and US visa know what complication is all about).

I knew that my UK visa is going to run out by 28th of February (decided not to extend from London, I will apply from Bangladesh) and I have to leave UK before that. So I bought the ticket from London Heathrow to Istanbul on 24th of February > Istanbul to Sochi on 25th then stay there like 26 days for the games. Bought the return on 21st of March to Istanbul and stay there for 3 days before I fly to Bangladesh. That was the plan.

Sent all my stuffs to Bangladesh through cargo at the end of January as I will be travelling to different places. Was ready and waiting for the special day (24/02/2014) to come.
Fishing at Black see. About 1000 steps from my hotel OMEGA

Stay tuned to find out what happened with me in Russia………

< To be continued >