SOCHI, Russia -- It was partly a desire to witness an Olympic event on a day off, partly research.

After an hour or two of walking through the Olympic park, we joined a queue at a ticket booth near the foot of the cauldron where the Olympic flame burns.

The line wasn’t all long, though I would soon learn, it was slow moving.

And so we waited. We waited for 50 minutes with only 40 people in front of us.

But there was entertainment, the kind that seems to pop up on a day at Disney World.

A princess of some sort posed with Olympic fans (not Cinderella), hip hop dancers set up shop a few meters from the line for a show.

Elsewhere, a man seemed to be selling a ticket, speaking louder and louder in Russian trying to find a buyer, but finding instead that many in the line could not understand his offer.

There was an exchange of words near the front. My interpretation of the body language leads me to believe it was about just how long all this took.

Only two of three windows were operational. And it would soon become clear that language barriers tend to slow the transactions.

Sochi t ickets

When our turn came, it turned out that the competition we were hoping to take in, the very popular figure skating event, was already underway. We knew from the get-go that our wait was a long shot.

A mix of charades and smartphone-based translation helped us understand the result of 50 minutes in line.

Only one ticket was left, but then two when we insisted, then no, just one again.

But there were plenty of tickets for the next day’s events, we were told.

We decided to leave it, not to split up, and moved on. Then we saw the lineup at the souvenir shop.

These are the two money makers at the games.

Organizers may well find a way to make the lines work faster before the games end.