SOCHI, Russia -- The Ring of Steel is about as quaint as it sounds, so after four days of being inside it I yearned to experience the world beyond its fencing.
Not heeding the advice of many (I don't heed well) to avoid mass transit with the threat of terrorism surrounding the Winter Games, I set out with a couple of other adventurous reporters on a journey to downtown Sochi to partake in some traditional Russian cuisine.
Security at a bustling train station nearby was heavy, including metal detectors and full-body pat-downs that appeared to occur whether detectors went off or not. The scene provided what I believed was a wonderful photo op for people back home requesting pictures other than those of the sun setting into the Black Sea and gorgeous views of the mountains in the distance.
I don't know much Russian -- OK, any Russian -- but I did pick up on the meaning of "Nyet!" about as quickly as one could, especially when it was being shouted by security forces charging my way. Note to self: Pass on taking photos of the security measures in place to protect the Games.
Forty minutes later and we were on the streets of downtown Sochi, getting our first real look at Russia. Not much English was heard, but the people were friendly and worked with us in our bid to find a restaurant open past 10 p.m.
That finally accomplished, a series of hand gestures that included pointing to menu items and the universal symbol for beer -- pantomiming chugging one -- and it was mission accomplished, even if the suds turned out to be a popular Mexican brand.
The return trip was quiet as we sat among Russians headed home and back to the relative familiarity of Olympic Park. The next morning, I sent home a series of photos that included some wonderful shots of the setting sun and mountain views.
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