Before it won the bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics, the next ones following our recent games here in Vancouver, I hadn't heard of Sochi, Russia. Neither had a lot of other people in North America, I think.
But that's odd, because in reading the book Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, I discovered that Josef Stalin spent a huge proportion of his time at his dachas and the spas in Sochi, sometimes for months in a row, while he was leader of the USSR—especially in the 1930s while he orchestrated the terrible peasant famines and the Terror, during which millions died.
For Stalin, his Sochi residences were like Hitler's Berghof in Bavaria—his main base of operations outside Moscow. In fact, Stalin established Sochi as Russia's main seaside resort.
It still seems a strange place for a Winter Olympics in Russia, like Vancouver was here in Canada: one of the warmest places in a country dominated by winter cold, even if (as here) there are ski mountains nearby. But Sochi still wins for bizarreness, because it's always been best known as a summer resort (Stalin went there for spa treatments, gardening, fishing, and camping, not skiing or skating), and they have palm trees.