She first heard about Sarajevo from members of the BiH diaspora in Switzerland when she was ten years old, and when she was 16 she learned about the wars in former Yugoslavia in her history class at school.
Before assuming her post in BiH, she consulted friends who were already living here, so she didn’t come entirely unprepared. However, when she started her job at the Swiss Embassy in Sarajevo in 2010, she could never have expected the changeable weather and often harsh winters. She recalls that while her first week in Sarajevo was marked by constant rain, her first impressions were quite positive, given the hospitable people, delicious food and excellent coffee on every corner.
What Simone loves most about Sarajevo is that it’s an ideal size for a city – large enough not to be boring and small enough so that, after a few months, one feels right at home, since it’s almost impossible to walk around town without meeting someone you know.
She has made many friends here, but admits that it was not at all easy in the beginning. She appreciates Sarajevans’ critical thinking, sharp cynicism and dark humor, but points out one fault: a total disregard for the concept of “standing and waiting in line”! She finds Sarajevans family-oriented and feels that most people, regardless of their gender or age, are fond of children and that they have an innate ability to interact well with youngsters.
What she hasn’t been able to get used to is the country’s complex political organization, the changeable weather and the smoke-filled restaurants, cafés and bars.
While she likes changes and tries to avoid routines, Simone has come up with one weekend ritual which includes a walk along Ferhadija, followed by a coffee at Torte i To (the only smoke-free café in the center of town) or a tea at Franz & Sophie.
Simone insists that Sarajevo differs from Swiss towns in that Sarajevans are very friendly toward children. During her four years here, she has taken her child to many different places and not once has she experienced negative reactions, which is rather common in Switzerland, because people are far less tolerant of small children who cry.
She mentions some other advantages of Sarajevo, including the fact that it is possible to reach all of the important places in town on foot and that Sarajevans are very welcoming toward strangers. Another plus is that you can nd some lovely and colorful nature not far from town.
Some drawbacks are the lack of non-smoking restaurants, “exotic” restaurants and places for people over thirty.
If she were to choose a symbol of Sarajevo, it would be the cafés that are full of people at almost any time of day.
She would advise those who come to the city to learn the language, for it will contribute positively to their experience of Sarajevo, and that they should refer to Sarajevo Navigator, which offers a look at almost everything that is going on in town.