The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi have been a bit, shall we say, expensive. The equivalent of $51,000,000,000 in public funds was spent to make sure that everything went off without a hitch. This includes the most expensive road in the world. But if you want to get from the opening ceremony to the ski slope, it'll cost you. A lot.
Let's start with the basics, if you're a Russian taxpayer. As many know by now, Sochi is pretty much Russia's only sub-tropical resort. If you think that everywhere in Russia is bloody awful and and a sub-arctic tundra everywhere throughout the year, you couldn't be more wrong. Sochi's got palm trees. Legit:
That means that you somehow have to get a metric crapton of people from the relatively warm shores of the Black Sea up into the mountains, where all the snow actually is. That doesn't sound like a huge problem, if you were in a city like Los Angeles or whatever. Sure, there'd be the worst traffic of your life, but you'd get there, eventually, maybe. There are highways and whatnot.
But Sochi didn't really have that. Just to make sure people could get from the city to the Snowboard Slopestyle event, Russia spent $9.4 billion to build more than 40 bridges and 12 tunnels.
As David Olive at the Toronto Star pointed out, the ridiculous price tag, nominaly the result of corruption, makes it the most expensive 50-kilometer road in history.
But nevermind all that, because you are (most likely) not a Russian taxpayer and all this schadenfreude is too fun.
Let's say you have braved the toilets and made it out of your hotel with the scary face-water, and you want to hop in your car to get to the venues. You didn't bring your own car, because that would be silly, so you decide to rent one. Traffic especially won't be a problem, as rental cars are the fastest cars in the world (fact).
Clearly, a rental car is the best choice.
This is a screenshot of Expedia's reservation page for car rentals at Sochi Airport. Technically you can get an "economy" car from Hertz right now for only $600, but remember, this is Russia, so you'll probably be getting some sort of Lada. And you won't have enough power to make it up the mountain to begin with. You'll just sit there, sadly rolling down the hill. The guy in last place in Super G will also be going down that hill faster than you. No dice.
On the other hand, you will look like Vlad Putin himself, in your old economy car.
Doesn't he look happy?
If you want what appears to be a delightful Fiat 500, which I'm almost certain you wouldn't actually be getting because no rental car is exactly how it looks in pictures, you'll spend $1,241. But hey, with gas around $3.72/gallon in Sochi right now, at least you won't be killed too bad at the pump. So, there's that.
But then again, Russia's roads can be pretty scary. Not only is there everything we've seen with Russian dash cams, but deaths on Russian roads due to alcohol-related incidents is actually increasing by a massive 12% annually, according to Forbes. And even though Sochi's got brand-new everything, Russia still ranks 136th among developed countries for road infrastructure. Ouch.
Factor in all the violence of southern Russia, and there's clearly only one option.
In 2012, friends of Jalopnik Texas Armoring offered two brand-new Mercedes S550 4MATICswith B6+ ultra-lightweight protection. They were offered for $250,000, each. Add in taxes, fees, and anything else (such as the even-higher grade B7 armoring, which can stop an AK-47 firing a hard core round), and you'll be looking to spend even more than that.
Lucky for you, though,Diplomat Armored is offering their highly protected rentals in Sochi just for the Olympics. Price? Well, they don't say, but their normal Moscow price is $30,000 a week.
Plus, in your armored Mercedes, you can look just like Vlad Putin himself when you inspect the tunnels.
Doesn't he look happy?
Then again, even in an armored car, you'll still be stuck in traffic and maybe you'll miss the whole shebang. Clearly what you're going to need is a helicopter.
The Mil Mi-8 is a total workhorse. And since we're doing this on some sort of budget, between the rental cars and the rented armored cars, it's okay if you get one used. Right now you can pick up a 1989 model for only $5.7 million, which I'm sure has got to be some sort of steal, somewhere.
Oh, you wanted to rent a helicopter? Well, there's the old cliche. If you have to ask, no one will tell you.
And in a helicopter of your very own, you can just be like Vlad Putin himself.
Vladimir Putin never looks happy.
All this is incredibly expensive, so why don't we look at a cheaper option?
Amazingly, the one thing about the Sochi Olympics is that bus trips are free with a ticket to the games.
Granted, tickets for the opening ceremonies were going for $1,440.
That could just be the world's most expensive bus ticket.
And no, there are no pictures of Vladimir Putin on an Olympic bus. Obviously.
Photo credits: Shutterstock, AP, Vsevolod Aladyshkin, Matt Hardigree