Bela KarolyiWorld-Renowned Gymnastics Coach

Growing up outside the U.S., it was always a childhood dream to live in Texas. As a boy, I remember hearing stories about cowboys, Texas Prairies and the Indians. That lifestyle had a great impact on kids like me from the former Eastern Bloc countries.

I always had imaginary dreams about Texas. When I defected in the early '80s, I knew I wanted to settle in Texas—in Houston. There was no other part of the country in my mind. 

I have a lot of friends who live in other parts of the world. If they are planning a trip to the U.S., I always tell them Houston is a place you have to live in to really understand why it's so special. This place has a rare combination of amazing southern hospitality combined with a fast-pace life in a huge landscape.

Houston has a huge heart—pulsing very fast and there is great care from the people who live here. 

Also, NASA—it's the pride of Houston. 

There is an unbelievable combination of old-fashion style living with modern high-flying style. I was shocked in the beginning to find how the two lifestyles coexisted as one. This combination of modern architecture with traditional southern, small, cozy homes—that's what makes Houston special. It's amazing to me that the new development hasn't pushed the old lifestyles like in other areas of this country. 

I love The Woodlands area—the mall and everything around it. The developer—George Mitchell—has created this beautiful area, with amazing social service. 

Also, Market Square in downtown Houston. It's such a wonderful central and social place. Martha and I can spend hours walking through the streets—all the restaurants—it's truly like a wonderland. We enjoy that type of environment. 

We love to spend time in the conventions that are brought to town—architecture, home-improvement and building shows. Of course, concerts and sporting events are always favorites. But really, the Houston Ballet is a favorite place for both Martha and me. We've spent many beautiful hours watching shows together.