Sofia, A Tale of Two Cities: Part II

When you're a half-stranger to a city, everything in it is simultaneously familiar and uncomfortably foreign. I was born in Sofia but grew up in the U.S., and my yearly visits to my birthplace are little treasures of discovery and exploration. I see the city through a lens of dusty childhood memories and new experiences, amassed little by little each year, but mostly it feels new and foreign to me. I don't know many street names and couldn't possibly give anyone directions even through the neighborhoods I'm most familiar with, but I know the place with the kind of fondness and intimacy you feel for your hometown, where memories bind you to a shared past even if the city is no longer your home. 

On my last trip to Sofia, I decided to play tourist for a day, and my mom and I set off with our cameras for a free-styling photo exploration of the city. We didn't visit any landmarks or popular tourist destinations. Instead, we focused on the most minute details along our walk, exploring the city's character through its colors, textures and forms. The end result was a collection of photos that blur the line between place and time - at times, it's difficult to know where the photos were taken, which city they represent, or even which decade. 

My mom has a keen eye for photography. It was so much fun to see the city through her eyes, too.

This is Sofia as I saw it, caught between my experience as a native and a stranger. I looked at half-familiar buildings and felt adrift in an unfamiliar world, but in focusing on the little details, I found myself comforted by the sameness of all big cities; whether you're in New York, London, or Sofia, the little details are surprisingly similar. Rusty metal on a lamppost. Graffiti on a weathered wall. Cafés named "Soho." All of these things combine to create the essence of a place, and if you happen to be a designer, they can provide endless inspiration.

You'll find some very naughty graffiti in Sofia. Parents beware.

So the next time you find yourself in a new city - or wandering through your own backyard - pay attention to the little details. Beauty hides in the most unexpected places. 

Yours truly, one stroll at a time,



Anonymous said...

Thank you for the inspiration. : )

Anonymous said...

(above comment is from Sara M. )

Radina Valova said...

Thank *you* for reading :)

Anonymous said...

: )