"" Writer's Wanderings: Sochi, Russia - Stalin's Dacha

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sochi, Russia - Stalin's Dacha

The word dacha means summer home and is pronounced with a soft ch sound. This summer home near Sochi is only one of many that Stalin had. It was built in 1937 and surrounded with imported California pines to disguise the location from prying eyes or offshore artillery. And yes, the whole thing was painted in the green you see in the picture. Almost perfect camouflage.

The buildings are set around a central courtyard with semi-tropical plants. A good part of the complex is now a hotel.

We exited the bus and walked up a slight grade through the gates and into the house that was his. We entered his office/movie theater and sure enough, there he was at his desk! In wax of course. In front of him were some documents purported to be in his own hand and a tea set said to be from Mao Zedong. Next to his desk was his bed and against the wall under a row of windows through which movies were projected was a couch stuffed with horsehair that he believed made it bullet proof. The sides and back were high so that no one could get a clear shot of his head when he was seated on it to watch the movies he loved.

In the next room was a huge pool table that practically filled the room. You wondered how they could keep the pool cue from hitting the wall when making a shot. Notice the lovely green color was continued inside.

Many of the rooms had balconies, a place for the smokers no less. In the second building we entered, there was an oval pool that had to be about 10 feet deep. There was barely space to walk around it but I'm guessing it wasn't the kind of place for sitting around the pool and sipping pina coladas. There were some beautiful mosaics on the walls.

Red carpeting flowed down the steps as we made our way to the second floor where we were ushered into the banquet hall. A wooden faced fireplace was along one wall with a portrait over it I assumed was Mr. Stalin. There were three tables set up with drinks and snacks including some caviar. I wondered how much caviar was eaten in that room in the old days?

The dacha was certainly not the opulence of the palaces of the czars but it wasn't a shack in the woods either. All in all a very interesting piece of history.

When we returned to the port we hesitated a moment wondering if we'd get in trouble if we wandered a bit and took a look at some of the nearby stores since we didn't have visas. Not feeling like we wanted to chance bucking the system, we went ahead and boarded our tender for the trip back to the ship. Maybe someday Russia will loosen up and allow cruise visitors a little more freedom and opportunity to spend some time and a little money.

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