To appreciate fully my thoughts and comments on this blog, you will need to know a bit about my background and my past experiences. What better way to put things in perspective than to tell you a bit more about the places I have lived in and the things I like to do most there.
I have lived in 6 different countries on 3 continents so far, so I guess that makes me pretty worldly. I have fond memories and experiences from all these countries. Here is a little bit about each:
This is the country where I was born and grew up. It is where my parents still live. I consider this to be my home country and always enjoy the occasional trip back home. I am proud of my heritage and my people’s long history. Occasionally, in my blogs, I may talk about history – so I am sure you will find out more about Bulgaria through my posts.
This is the country where I essentially grew up, started making decisions as an adult, became a young professional. This country has given me lots of great experiences and I remember fondly each one of them. For most part, I have lived in the Washington, DC area. So, to me, that city is my second home.
Before Washington, I had lived in Richmond, VA. A city that holds an important place in American history. An area that exposed me to the muffled pride of the South, and was my home for my first 4 years of living abroad. A place where I got my college degree, became an adult, made some great friends, learned how to live abroad.
Other great American cities that have had a long-lasting impact on me:
- Miami: This is the place where I found the “special” person in my life, but she broke my heart. I still love the city though.
- New York: Whatever I say about this city will be an understatement. Therefore, I’ll leave it up to the likes of Frank Sinatra or Jay-Z/Alicia Keys to sing about it. I love visiting this city but doubt I’ll ever want to live there. A bit too crazy for me.
- Chicago: Yet another iconic American metropolis that I love to visit, occasionally. What really attracts me is that on the one hand, this city is a true center of all things Americana; yet, on the other hand, the city is a hub for immigrants from Central Europe. Interesting dynamics emerge when you combine these two features.
- San Francisco: I’ve visited this West Coast city only twice, but that was enough to appreciate its special vibe. It may very well be completely my fantasy, but I think San Francisco resembles Hong Kong – the steep streets, the fog, the streetcars, the bay with its ferries, the islands. Certainly, Chinatown and Japantown add a very strong Asian flavor to San Fran.
I did a 6-month study-abroad in Copenhagen in 2000. When I was a kid, I was fascinated with Viking mythology and one of my dreams was to live and experience a Nordic culture. Copenhagen is a fascinating city – many call it the Venice of Scandinavia with its canals, lined with beautiful and colorful houses. I still remember living in Østerbro, walking in the cool shades of the 500+ years old University of Copenhagen buildings, strolling down Strøget, enjoying a cold Tuborg sitting at the banks of Nyhavn.
I did my MBA in Fontainebleau, approximately 55 km southeast of Paris. Fontainebleau is the poster child of French tourism. While the city and its surrounding villages represent a mere 36,000 inhabitants, its famous eponymous palace attracts 300,000 annual visitors, and the surrounding magical forests host more than 11 million hikers per year. I miss driving my cute Citroën C3 down the tree-lined roads that radiated out from Fontainebleau to the near-by villages like spikes on a hub.
A very special place for me – this city-state defines my understanding of a recently developed, very well organized and modern society. Coming from a country that has gone through a lot of political and economic unrest in the past 2 decades, I cannot help admiring how Singapore has risen from a poor ex-British colony to become one of the mightiest economies in the Far East, with an income per capita higher than that in many Western nations.
I lived in the heart of London for about 18 months. While this may sound like a short time, I took full advantage of being centrally located and got to know this great city very well. One thing that really strikes me is how Londoners really appreciate good weather. On the rare sunny day in the summer, everyone would be out in the park, sun-bathing in deck chairs, playing frisbee, feather-ball or football, and sipping Pimm’s.
Update: September 2011
It’s been a few months since I moved back to Washington DC. I liked London and got very much used to it, but I feel DC closer to my heart. It is amazing how familiar everything looks – even though I had been away for 1.5 years! It feels a bit like I woke up one day and realized I had time travelled 18 months in the future – some things are exactly the same, others have changed. DC is definitely on the rise – which is a great thing, considering the economic difficulties going on nationwide. The amount of development going on in Clarendon is just unbelievable. This no longer feels like a suburb – it is an integral part of the city.
Note about the Photos in the Headers
All photos featured in the headers of this blog’s pages were taken by me in one of the places where I had traveled or lived. Each of these images reminds me of a story that is dear to my heart. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.