It’s 5.35am and my radio alarm awakes me with crackly sounds resembling the latest Will.I.Am song. Five minutes later, my phone alarm goes off – I have been setting it due to the occasional power cut. I get up and stumble into the bathroom.
There are people who take five to ten minutes to get ready in the morning. I am not one of them. If you ask me what I do for half an hour between waking up and leaving my room, I could not tell you.
So after what can only be assumed to be 30 minutes of professional faffing, I hurry into the hotel restaurant to face a rather unconventional breakfast spread: fried chicken, baked fish, cabbage, bean salad, pasta (see picture below). The only thing I can handle at this time of the day is a quick cup of green tea.
Luckily, they also normally serve a variety of fruit, which I pack up in my newly-acquired tupperware box for later (see below).
By 6.15am, I make my way to the bus stop outside of the hotel and might. Sometimes I run into my team mates – Luke, Diane and Laurent or our supervisor Paolo, but more often than not they will have already left. The first part of my journey is the easiest: take the TM3 to the Main Press Centre (MPC). By now – one week into the Games, the TM3 runs virtually every five minutes and is never overcrowded. It has also stopped going along ridiculously long routes as it did in the run-up to the Games and now takes a mere ten, as opposed to 20, minutes to reach the MPC.
Once at the MPC, we have to go through security in order to get to the bus stop the TM10 leaves from. Up until day 5 of the Games, TM10 left outside the security zone, but then organisers decided to attempt a bubble-to-bubble system on all the media buses.
I assume because of the sheer amount of people getting various buses from inside the bubble, security personnel has become somewhat more lenient when it comes to food. I’ve been getting through with one, sometimes two, food-filled tupperware boxes, every morning now. Going through security still gives me a shiver though and I fear having to chuck away piles of food every morning.
The TM10 is the most important part of my commute: it’s the bus that takes us to the Gorki Media Centre – the main press venue near all the mountain venues, where snowboarding, skiing and sliding competitions are held. The journey, even though it only covers 50km, takes an hour.
And even though hundreds of journalists, photographers and volunteers want to get from the MPC to Gorki every day, organisers decided that it would be enough to have the TM10 run only twice every hour. And even that mostly does not happen. I’ve heard some horror stories from people who’ve waited for one-and-a-half hours and it just did not show up.
Fortunately, I’ve never had to wait for that long, but, believe you me, I have had my issues. But in the name of the Olympic spirit, I will spare you the rant. Suffice it to say, every time I board the TM10 I feel huge relief.
The TM10 journey is also extremely suitable to catch up on the sleep lost during that very short night. Usually, I start listening to my latest BBC World Service podcast and eventually conk out, before I’m woken up abruptly when we pull into the Gorki bus stop after no announcement or prior warning whatsoever.
The last leg of the journey is the TM16, which takes people straight to the alpine skiing venue and takes around half an hour – enough to close my eyes once again. It is the same every day, but every time the bus pulls up to the venue I feel disappointed and cheated out of a nap.
Little Miss Grumpy that I am in that state, I climb up the dozens of metal steps (see picture below) to be greeted by a load of cheery volunteers who appear to have had pills on toast for breakfast. They are smiling, dancing and spreading their joy, as if someone had given them clear instructions to HAVE FUN no matter what. The same volunteers had been there in the weeks leading up to the Games but I don’t remember seeing anyone dancing, having fun or, Alas!, smiling.
With a different song blasting out of each of the ten speakers (see one of them in the picture below) which line the staircase – one more irritating than the other, these volunteers welcome almost every person walking past with a big smile and a ‘Hello, Good Morning!’. One – probably the head girl of Class Fun – is sat on a high chair and welcoming people with a megaphone which, like so many other music outlets I have encountered in Sochi, severely lacks in sound quality.
Still struggling to wake up, I walk through the barrier to scan my accreditation and start walking up the hill to the Alpine Skiing Press Centre. As I am cursing the universe for making me get up so early, I look up and realise that the view is breath-taking (see pictures below) and that there are far worse places I could be.
I go into the workforce tent to have my accreditation scanned again – this time to check into the venue, which will guarantee me my daily workforce lunch, and then head back to the press centre to get another cup of green tea or a coffee, depending on how tired I feel. I meet the rest of my team in the office (see picture below), turn my laptop on and read up on what’s been going on in the world of alpine skiing since the previous afternoon.
With about half an hour to spare until the first race starts, we all have a quick meeting to discuss which skiers we definitely want to get quotes from and which ones to watch out for. We then put our bets on the board on who will win, put on our ‘Olympic News Service’ bibs, wrap up warm and head to the slope. And thus, the fun begins.