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SOCHI, February 12. /ITAR-TASS/. Busy journalists have been noting the untimely and surprising blossoming of two birch trees, age-old symbols of Russia coming to life to adorn the Sochi Olympics news center.
They have burst among bark and felt folk craft, paintings and patchwork at a “hospitality corner” set up among the Games venues. The centre is there to extoll the delights of Russia's Kuban, known, too, as the southern Krasnodar region hosting the Olympiad.
The venue is welcome respite for news professionals reclining on sofas, sipping tea with crispy bagel-like cracknels and gingerbread, and hearing accounts of the territory's beauty. All for free.
“Aside from building facilities for the Games, we were also thinking about how to convey the beauty of our homeland to the guests,” Lyudmila Guzenko, “hospitality corner” hostess told Itar-Tass.
"Many people have never heard of Kuban and have no idea about Krasnodar. Some think Sochi is Russia's central city,” she mused.
Two comfort zones have been opened - one at the main media building and one at the broadcasting centre where TV teams work, Lyudmila said. "We're presenting traditional craft work, notably from Krasnodar territory. The birch is the symbol of Russia and to our great surprise, the two trees you can see here have blossomed for the Games opening,” she said.
Tea drinking therapy's on offer from hand-painted cups made of renowned Russian Gzhel ceramics or of birch bark. or featuring traditional Russian Khokhloma painting.
Samovars are eye-catching centrepieces - one made of silver threads, another fashioned as the 18th century closed. A giant samovar - capacity 332 litres and weight 270 kilogrammes - is the focal point.
“The only reason we don’t use it is because of a fire service ban on open fires," Lyudmila said. “Otherwise, we could have treated 1,600 guests to a cup of tea at one time. We want that the reporters who pop by to say ‘I have been to the Olympics, I have been to Russia and I have been to Kuban'.