It took me more than a week to recognize this, but I've finally realized what's missing from my experience in Russia: Russians.
Other than the volunteers, bus drivers and ubiquitous - thankfully - security personnel, I've had little interaction with the local people. The biggest reason is the media housing is in a remote, mostly exclusive location, although I occasionally see residents waiting at our bus stop for their own transportation.
In Italy in 2006, we were assigned to housing in a neighborhood. It was common to see grandparents taking walks with young children, and a Saturday market drew all kinds of people. A shopping mall was connected to the Main Media Center, as well.
In Vancouver in 2010, we were assigned to an airport hotel and took the public light-rail system downtown, so we mixed with huge crowds of Canadians, who were going to work or to the venues.
Not so in Sochi, where the media operation is almost completely self-contained. I did purposely walk out of the spectator exit after Saturday's USA-Russia hockey game and mingled with the crowd in the Olympic Park on the way back to the Media Center, but that's pretty much my only exposure to real people.
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