Happy Birthday! There's a problem with your visa

I've had better birthdays, but at least this one ended with arriving at the Winter Olympics. Who needs cake?

CBC Montreal's Sonali Karnick on the surprises that awaited in Sochi

After dodging some unexpected obstacles, I've finally arrived at the International Broadcasting Centre. (CBC)

Customs agent: (Looking at my passport) Happy Birthday!  You are in Sochi!

Me: Thanks. I can't wait to see everything.

Customs agent: Wait, your birthday is Feb. 3 or March 2?

Me: It's today, Feb. 3. What's the problem?

Customs agent: The format of the date of your birth on the accreditation is different from that of your passport. You have to apply for another visa.

Me: Wait, what?

Customs agent: Go with this man and he will take you to passport control.  

Me: I have colleagues waiting for me. Can I go tell them I am delayed?

Customs agent: Go with this man and he will fix it.

So began my LONG night at the Sochi airport.  

After three hours of filling out a visa application and locating my baggage, I could not get in touch with my colleagues, but sent emails as soon as I got a wifi connection to let them know I was OK. My phone was non-operational at the time.

I’ve had better birthdays, but at least this one ended with arriving at the Winter Olympics. Who needs cake?

I then arrived at the hotel.

Cake was the last thing on my mind as I remembered the images of unfinished buildings from numerous news stories. I hadn't slept in a while.

I was exhausted and I was just happy to be out of an airport at this point. Some friendly volunteers guided me to the shuttle that would take me to my hotel in the complex called “Alexandrovsky Sad”.

No bed in sight. (Sonali Karnick/CBC)
Receptionist: Your room is in building number seven.

Me: (laughing) Is it finished?  You know because, there's a pile of bricks outside…(awkward silence)

Receptionist: Maybe. Let us know if it is not.

Me: …

I got to my room and turned the key to open the door to find an empty room.  No bed, just a vanity table in the corner. After turning on the light, I still couldn't see a bed. 

That's when I started to laugh out loud to myself.  

Then I turned my head to the left and saw a doorway to another room. Success! A bed and a bathroom.

My last task before going to bed was to lock the door. It has to be locked with a key from the inside. If this is everything I have to deal with, the rest should be smooth sailing. 

Did I just jinx myself?

Luckily, I won't be sleeping on the floor after all. (Sonali Karnick/CBC)
My colleagues were very happy to see me alive and well today.

Hugs are the best therapy in this situation and I got plenty of them!

I’m sitting at a desk next to Peter Mansbridge. He’s popping back and forth from his laptop to talking with producers so I haven’t really said hello to him yet. I will, eventually. 

I'm still searching for cake right now, after all.

About the Author

Sonali Karnick

CBC Montreal's Sonali Karnick will be in Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics as a bilingual reporter for CBC and Radio Canada.