“What are you giving me so many days off for - you think I came here to relax?” I've heard some of them yelling into the phone. Nevertheless, as time goes by, I have begun to realize that a day off is not such a bad thing after all. In fact, I have guiltily caught myself counting the days until I can sleep as long as I want and return to my hotel room a bit earlier than 3am.
On average, each Olympic volunteer will have four days off during the Games. Some will have more, and some will have fewer, depending on the kind of work they do. Also, we are all doing a lot of awkward shifts.
Given that we live quite far away from the sports venues (the trip to and from work takes a couple of hours on average), it can be rather stressful when you have an evening shift one day, and then the early morning shift the following day. That is one reason that a day off every once in a while can be a real boon.
There are many different ways to spend free time here – catching up on sleep being one of the most popular, of course. Those who have slept to their heart’s content usually just take walking trips to different parts of Sochi or Krasnaya Polyana. But there are also more interesting ways to spend your time.
One of the volunteer compounds is less than five minutes away from an indoor water park, and many volunteers like to spend their days off there.
Many obviously try to spend their free time watching the Olympic events. Almost all the cheap tickets were sold out long ago, so you have to use other means of getting one.
The volunteers’ cafeteria is full of ads such as, “Will sell a ticket to women’s ski jumping – really need cash," or “Will pay good money for two hockey tickets," or “Please let my dream of seeing Bjørndalen come true and sell me a biathlon ticket, I’m begging you!" The volunteer groups in the social networks are full of such posts as well.
Many of the volunteers don’t want to spend their time and energy hunting for tickets, but they still want to see the events. One of the best ways of doing that is to go to the huge outdoor screen installed on the central square of the Rosa Khutor hotel compound in Krasnaya Polyana.
There is always a crowd of people there, groaning in unison when the favorites miss a shot in biathlon, and cheering loudly during the medal ceremonies.
Finally, there are more exotic ways to spend a day off in Sochi. My two roommates, for example, have turned to gastro-tourism. They take pleasant trips to Adler’s central market, and return with bags full of exotic local sweets and special Caucasus cuisine.