My parents used to drag me and my brother all over Europe since we were very little (thank you, mom and dad, for making us decently well-rounded individuals!). I still remember, rather vividly, our tiny green Fiat Uno that took us through 12 countries in one go. But all that travel taught me little on how to manage my travel stress. After all, I had very little say in where we went and what to pack.
To be Precise, Six Years Overdue...
I often think fondly of my college years. I went to a small private school not very far North of Pittsburgh and the years I spent there were mostly marked by late nights, learning how to drink coffee and like it, tons of good quality education and rarely visiting the great city of Pittsburgh.
For that reason, Pittsburgh always had a certain enigma to it - I knew enough to admire and like it but not enough to ever feel comfortable in it.
And I was ecstatic to find out I had to make a business trip there (despite the 30-degree weather and general lack of sunshine). What I was most looking forward to was experiencing the city through a new perspective, one informed by the varied travels I have undertaken since I graduated and left Pennsylvania.
The city did not disappoint. In fact, my previous experiences made me appreciate its raw industrialism, layers of architectural history and friendly mannerisms of its people even more. So one could easily say that the rain gear, cold weather and grey skies did not affect my smile a bit. If anything, they added even further to the unexpected warm feeling of coming home.
Where Catfish and a Tiger Live Happily Ever After!
Welcome to Baton Rouge, the proud home of one famous tiger (well, 6 famous tigers - Mike VI is the 6th generation of Louisiana State University mascots and a proud owner of a rather posh pad right in the middle of campus!), amazing fried food (my personal favorite has to be the delicious fried catfish), and a unique type of sporting on water (long story short - in LA, you can only gamble on water - except for New Orleans - and the newest casino in Baton Rouge is a rather stationary hotel built on top of the Mississippi river - aka water).
If you do get a chance to visit Baton Rouge, here were my two absolute favorite food joints:
Way Overdue, in More Ways than One!
Greetings from beautiful Bulgaria! After three years of somehow resisting the urge to book a ticket and go home, I finally took the plunge and was quickly reminded of the beautiful place I come from! For the mere three days I have spent here thus far, I have accumulated an obscene amount of pictures I want to share... so this is part one of a few upcoming insanely image-heavy, almost wordless (for I do find the pictures to be worth a thousand words) posts about my home.
Today, I wanted to share with you the charms of Hrabrino, a tiny village ten miles west of Plovdiv, that my parents happen to call their home now.
Oh, Thy Rivalry (Or, Why Thy Rivalry?)!
Houston and Dallas' rivalry goes way, waaaaaaaaay back. And that's quite the norm, isn't it? There seems to often exist a natural rivalry inclination when two substantial cities are housed by the same state (Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh, anyone?). I have also observed that Americans are not the only ones prone to such comparisons either: I hail from Bulgaria and my growing up was marked by the rivalry between Bulgaria's capital Sofia and my hometown Plovdiv, or as the locals would call it, the cultural capital of Bulgaria (notice that innocent jab? Just couldn't help it...).
So, having lived in Houston for 6 years now, you can imagine the preconceived notions I had about Dallas without even setting a foot in it. And despite the long and rather uneventful drive to get there, my experience was a great reminder to always keep an open mind when traveling.
Downtown Dallas is quite charming! And contrary to popular belief, the Dallas I saw did not take itself seriously at all. The Downtown area boasts a natural contrast of old and new that I am always particularly fond of. It also displays some of the oddest pieces of art I have ever seen (pun intended, please see strange Eye Sculpture above). And, being the garden lover that I am, I truly enjoyed the small parks in between the skyscrapers which offered such a refreshing and minimalist area for rest.
I know that rivalries are natural and common... But why not be able to appreciate it all?
The Dallas World Aquarium, an urban home to a large variety of exotic and endangered species, is an impressive place. On the edge of downtown Dallas and hidden in an old 1924 warehouse that had been gutted and rebuilt on the inside, this zoo has a lot to offer to the curious mind. My favorite sightings were the gigantic manatee (my love for these animals is clearly witnessed by the sheer amount of pictures I took!), the entire shark tank and the lethargic sloth (who felt uncharacteristically photogenic today!).
And You Say... "What?"
Who has fun packing, right? Well, I travel quite a lot for work and I have finally conquered the dread of getting ready by finding joy in the never-ending struggle to fit it all in my carry-on. And if you think about it, the challenge can be so much fun.
Pictured above is what I will actually be bringing to an upcoming trip to Dallas. I tend to keep it simple and have everything in the same color combination so that I can recycle the shoes, pants and jacket. Three different outfits, eleven articles altogether!
And given how much fun I had putting these outfits together and taking their pictures, I would not be surprised if I kept doing it for all my upcoming trips! Like I said, fun indeed!