Sochi’s Botanical Garden is a great place to spend hours doing nothing.
On my second day in Sochi, I woke up, ate some breakfast and headed straight to the city center following the signs marked “Центр” (Tsentr / त्स् येंतर). I asked people standing at the bus stop if they knew which bus went there. They told me to take a shared taxi, a very interesting vehicle called Marshrutka (маршру́тка / मारश्रुत्का) about which I will write in further detail later, and pointed me to a spot where a bigger crowd of people were randomly standing. After watching 4 vehicles stop and go, my cluelessness was overcome and I expertly got into the next vehicle and asked the driver to drop me off at the Dendrariy.
This botanical garden, established back in 1889, claims to have over 1,500 species of trees and shrubs from all over the world. I didn’t verify this claim, but it seems true. The garden is long and winding roads go up a hill in a well designed pattern and there is a cable car facility from one end to the other. I went up the hill in the cable car and walked down on foot, but if you ask my opinion, unless you have a child with you, ditch the cable trolley and walk up – its the best way to explore the park. Others might suggest that you take the cable car and skip the ‘exploration’ since there is nothing much to explore, and that argument is also true.
Being a low season weekday, I felt like an emperor in his private garden, until I noticed young couples blatantly violating my royal garden, tucked behind trees in little corners all over the place. Then there were tourists in groups of three or four, posing before statues and trees, with the teenagers permanently annoyed at their parents for bringing them here against their will. (oh I miss being 16!) I walked up and down the swirling paths, took lots of pictures of me, of some bugs, and even of a green bug biting me and leaving a red spot there. 🙁
There are many signs that say: “Don’t walk on the grass.” Is that a socialist thing? I notice such signs in India, but never heard any in North America.
On the opposite side of the street is another park with some muddy water ponds filled with ducks, swans and some other animals. I saw families picnicking on the lawn and little kids chasing ducks who promptly dived back into the water. After spending a couple of hours or so in the two parks, I decided to walk my way back to Sochi town (about 2km) and get something to eat.
The Arboretum is about 2km south of Sochi city center on the main (and the only) road that runs parallel to the sea, going to Adler. There are number of shared taxis (Marshrutkas) that ply on the street and will drop you there for a fare of RUR 11. You could even walk along the coast, checking out the town since the distance is not far. Entrance to the botanical park (includes both parts) is RUR 30 (I don’t remember if that was student discount) and they also have a cable car that will take you up the hill for RUR 80 (4 USD). Great place for children to enjoy.