Today Daria Cherkashina is the most popular travel blogger in Sochi and the mastermind behind @da.daa. Born and raised in Siberia, Daria moved to Sochi four years ago when she got a job at the Rosa Khutor ski resort. She's discovered that Sochi was an exciting place for her as a geographer and a keen traveler. The city that stretched along the coast for almost 150km and encompassed mountains, woods and beaches turned out to be the perfect playground for a scientist. Daria started exploring the area and mapping places she was interested in. Shy hiked into the mountains and walked into the local woods, explored gorges and waterfalls she found on the way. Eventually, she got to know Greater Sochi so well that her friends started asking her for travel tips and advice. It was then that she came up with the idea to start her own travel blog where she would help people get the best of Sochi and help them discover off-the-beaten track places. Today she posts daily to her blog and Instagram account about new places she's discovered with useful tips on how to get there and where to eat on the way. Here Daria shares with Tumbleweed Guide her insider knowledge of the city.
Russia is a unique country where such contrasting landscapes as steppe and subtropics in the South, and tundra and perennial snow in the North miraculously coexist. In fact, it is the contrasts and diversity that I like most about our country. Not just natural but also cultural, architectural and other kinds existing in various parts of our big country.
My all-time favourite place is and will always be Baikal - it’s the place where I grew up and had spent a lot of time in the past with my family and friends before moving to Sochi. This place is unique, sacred, truly magical. Baikal is so diverse and multifold but every time you see this lake, it overwhelms you with its beauty.
Most likely to the Russian Far East. I was incredibly lucky to visit Primorsky Krai during my student internship. It’s stunning beauty and the force of local nature are forever in my heart. I also really want to visit Kamchatka.
I love my native city of Irkutsk in summer. Cozy streets of the Old town, cold blue water of the Angara River, and a breath of fresh mountain air from Lake Baikal. Just perfect.
I really like winters in Sochi. After moving to the South I’ve discovered that winter in Sochi is a great time to hike (weather permitting) and walk without being stranded by crowds of people as it often happens here in summer. Besides, winter holidays in ski resorts of Krasnaya Polyana is a fairytale come true for any snowboarder or skier.
Sochi is the city of eternal spring. Various plants bloom here all year round, autumn and winter are very mild, spring starts early, and summer is really hot. The climate here is perfect for living: lots of fresh sea air and greenery. It has everything that people in megalopolises are missing.
I’m always inspired by nature. I get a huge burst of energy and loads of new ideas while walking in the woods and watching the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
When I moved to Sochi and started exploring the city I’ve learnt about so many interesting things and discovered so many amazing places that I wanted to share with others. At the time there was not a single Instagram profile where you could learn about interesting places in Sochi. I had an amazing feedback from people, and eventually @sochitravel became the most popular blog in Sochi. That’s what my subscribers say, and it’s the best kind of reward.
I came to Sochi in the beginning of 2013 and to put it in a nutshell, the whole city was a huge construction site. Building equipment, new highways, junctions, bridges and tunnels... everything was in the completion stage. It was a year before the Olympic Games began and main transformations have already taken place. So I can only judge the changes by the witness statements and old photos. No doubt, the city has changed dramatically, but I don’t think that all changes were for the best.
My favourite places are mainly outdoors. I really like Navalishchenskoye Gorge or Bzerpinsky Cornice. But there’re also manmade objects on my list - a tower on the peak of Greater Akhun, Ordzhonikidze spa resort and a viewing platform on Mount Batareika.
I really love the centre of Sochi: Navaginskaya Street, the seaport district, the Sochi River and the Black Sea embankment, Ordzhonikidze Street, Square or Arts. It’s the heart of the city, the place where the city was founded. Here you can see and feel the many layers of its history and the energy of people who created this beautiful city by the sea.
The pedestrian zone of Navaginskaya Street, the Black Sea and the Sochi River embankments are my favourite places for a stroll.
Wood Coffee in Morskoy Lane, next to the Pushkin Library.
I love having breakfast at Red Cup Café on Navaginskaya Street. It’s a cozy place with good vibes.
Brigantine Café on Nesebrskaya St. next to the sea port is a perfect spot for outdoor dining, weather permitting. It has great views, relaxing atmosphere and really good food.
My husband and I often meet up with friends at Tyubeteika Café on Navaginskaya St.
I’d suggest renting a yacht and admiring Sochi and the snowcapped mountains behind the city from the sea.
The tower on the peak of Greater Akhun has the best views. Another good place with panoramic views over the city is the viewing platform on Mount Batareika. There’s also the new ferris wheel in the Olympic Park offering wonderful views over the sea and the city.
In my view, the best hotel in town is Swissôtel Resort Sochi Kamelia. The service there is impeccable. If you want something unusual, book Bogatyr theme hotel built in the shape of a castle on the territory of the Sochi Theme Park next to the Olympic stadiums. It feels like you’ve just stepped in a л0аfairytale both for children and adults.
Ah, there’s quiet a few of those. Personally, I think that one of the most amazing places in Sochi is the Akhtsu Gorge and the road built there through the mountains in the end of the 19th century. It’s hard to believe but this road constructed by the primitive methods of that time (with the help of dynamite, pickaxes and shovels) was in service until 2005. It’s a beautiful example of the genius, wit and spirit of those people.
In my view, the best beach is in the Imereti Lowlands, next to the Olympic Park.
There’s only one answer to it - Krasnaya Polyana! It’s a truly great place to ski.
I really like going to Luxor Cinema which screens films in English in collaboration with G8 Language School. There’s also a nice flower festival which I was lucky to visit last year. But the most exciting event in the city is the SCF Black Sea Tall Ships Regatta.
It may sound strange, but Sochi is great any time of year. It all depends on what you come here for.
One of my favourite museums is the Sochi History Museum. It’s one of the oldest cultural institutions in the city with rich archaeology collection, various historical documents, photos, and ethnographic objects of this culturally and ethnically diverse region.
Art gallery Fort is a new creative space in Sochi, and a good place to see the creative process in action. There’s a space for workshops, lectures, exhibitions, concerts and conversational evenings, and also a courtyard where festivals and fairs often take place.
Currently, my husband and I live next to the market called Pontos and I really like this place. Especially during weekends when farmers arrive with fresh produce, and old ladies come to sell fruits from their orchards.
Figs were a real discovery for me. Before moving to Sochi I had tried only dried figs and didn’t find them particularly tasty. But here I’ve tried fresh figs for the first time and fell in love with them! As a matter of fact I’m a big fan of all local fruits, berries and nuts: persimmons, tangerines, feijoas, grapes, mulberries, medlar fruits, cherries, cherry plums, pecans, and many others.
I like taking my workouts outside, preferably to the seafront. We used to go to the sports ground on Riviera Beach but since we moved to Adler I haven’t found the right place yet.
I really love Yuzhnye Kultury Park and Arboretum Botanical Garden (Dendrarium).
It really doesn’t take long to escape Sochi because on one side there’s the sea where you can always find a secluded spot on the beach, and on the other side there’re the woods. A few stops by bus - and you’re already in the forest, surround by birds, waterfalls and blossoms. And that is another reason why I fell in love with Sochi.