Sofia through other people's eyes

22 October 2020 text Dani Nikolova
Is the watermelon red from inside before we cut it through is an old philosophical conundrum that relates to the subjective perception of reality.

Everyone sees the world through their eyes, and there are people who even don’t like watermelon. Following the analogy of this timeless philosophical question we asked ourselves: is Sofia beautiful from the outside if you still haven’t become its permanent resident. And we searched for the answer through the eyes of two foreigners who have gone all-in with their chips at the next hand – their permanent relocation to Sofia, where they have become part of the PokerStars team.

Aleksandra Spirovska is an iOS engineer and she is one of the ladies in a leadership role in the technical teams of PokerStars. Arriving from Skopje she remains in love with Sofia forever.

I was rendered speechless by the cathedral St Alexander Nevski. It is still my favourite place. I remember my first date with Sofia quite well. It was 5 years ago at the beginning of September. My best friend was already living here and took me out for a walk around the charming alleys.

I feel back home every time I taste the "mekitsi" in the Rainbow Factory. Their savor always gives me the feeling of warmth and coziness of home.

A winning strategy turned out to be my job at PokerStars. Even before I started, I believed that being part of a leading iGaming company with developing technological teams is a great opportunity. Two years later I found out that my expectations have been exceeded. Every day brings a new challenge, the environment is great, I found many new friends and my apartment is only 400 meters away from the office.

If you decide to visit Skopje you have to buy something from the main street and eat meatballs in whichever authentic restaurant. They are cheap and delicious. Don’t forget to visit the Museum of contemporary art and the picturesque Matka canion (especially, if you love nature). In the evening you should go to a restaurant in the bohemian Debar Maalo. Do try the traditional Macedonian red wine (that looks almost black) called Vranets.

My colleagues from Bulgaria burst into laughter every time I say a Macedonian word that means something completely different in Bulgarian. Your languages are so close, we seem to understand each other and yet sometimes people are either laughing or confused.

The bravest thing I did since I started living in Sofia is eating "skembe tschorba". Oh, and I got engaged. To a Bulgarian.

My favourite place to work besides the office, are the cafes Peroto and Plus tova. The option to work remotely is definitely a great one.

A full house of emotions for me means laughter, moments shared with the people I love, writing code, music and a very, very savory burger.

Carlo Federico Bardelli is a senior sports specialist in the customer support teams in PokerStars. He arrived from sunny Italy in sunny Bulgaria (yes, that is correct: when you are young and full of enthusiasm the sun follows you everywhere you go) and has the intention to become a permanent resident of Sofia. February 14 is the day when he first set foot in the city. A coincidence? We don’t think so.

The best decision I’ve made so far was to apply for a role in PokerStars, Sofia. I perfectly remember the day when I arrived. There was snow, though the weather was warm, the airport seemed close to the city, I liked Vitosha – both the boulevard and the mountain, and I was impressed by the many young people on the streets. It was February 14 and I immediately fell in love with Sofia.

I still laugh when I recall my first attempts at shopping in the supermarket. It always took me a few minutes until I figure out how to answer questions like – "do you have a card" or "do you need a shopping bag".

After a while I realized that my fears of the language barrier were groundless. Bulgarians and Italians do have a lot in common – in terms of culture and way of living. The good thing about us Italians is that when we can’t use words to explain something, we start using gestures. For now, that seems to be working.

I was impressed by some of the national cuisine dishes here.

The bravest thing I have done since I’ve been in Sofia was to climb the Seven Rila Lakes with colleagues. The nature and the view there are unique!

If you travel to Italy, you must see Rome. The city is full of art and culture, with my top 3 being: the Colosseum, the Vatican Museum, and the Borghese Gallery and Museum and its beautiful park.

A winning strategy is that I have chosen to combine my hobby (sports) with work. One of the key values of PokerStars 'strive for excellence' is a personal value of mine, too. It’s great luck that the company helps me in improving my skills and knowledge through different trainings and courses.

Right now, I have the opportunity to work remotely, but I like it best when I am with my colleagues (already close friends of mine) in the office. The atmosphere there always brings the sunny mood.

A full house of emotions for me means traveling. Going around the globe, the beauty of nature, animals, different places, and wild, exotic destinations.


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