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  • Vacations part of Soviet Union's 'good life,' with Sochi the dream resort

    U. of I. history professor and chair Diane Koenker, a specialist on the Soviet Union, tells the story of more than six decades of Soviet vacationing in her new book "Club Red."

    U. of I. history professor and chair Diane Koenker, a specialist on the Soviet Union, tells the story of more than six decades of Soviet vacationing in her new book "Club Red."

    Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

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      U. of I. history professor and chair Diane Koenker, a specialist on the Soviet Union, tells the story of more than six decades of Soviet vacationing in her new book "Club Red."

      Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

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      Sochi benefits from a mild climate. Its rock beaches give vacationers a place to take in the sun. In earlier days, sunbathing was considered a medical procedure and was supervised by medical personnel.

      Photo by Diane Koenker

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      Many Soviet elites got special attention in Sochi, including cosmonauts, who got physical training and specialized medical care. These suits are on display in Sochi's history museum.

      Photo by Diane Koenker

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      Sochi sits on a narrow strip of land between the Black Sea and the Caucasus mountains, which will provide the backdrop and the site for skiing events at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

      Photo by Diane Koenker

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      The Hotel Primorskaya, or "seaside hotel," was built in the 1930s and was the only hotel in Sochi during that time. It accommodated government officials and foreign dignitaries.

      Photo by Diane Koenker

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      The Sochi ship terminal, built in 1955, was designed to impress and to communicate a feel of the exotic for ship passengers arriving at the Black Sea resort, says Diane Koenker. Its tall spire can be seen for miles out to sea.

      Photo by Diane Koenker

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      Passengers arriving in Sochi after 36 hours on the train from Moscow would have been welcomed, after 1952, at this train station. Its architecture combines an earlier monumental style with vaguely Islamic elements, says Koenker. "It doesn't look like any other train station anywhere else in the Soviet Union."

      Photo by Diane Koenker

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  • To contact Diane Koenker, call 217-300-4097; email dkoenker@illinois.edu.
    Koenker is pronounced “conquer”; Sochi is pronounced SO-chee.