Silvia Schmid: Infinite Reasons To Love Armenia

While in Armenia Silvia started a blog to keep a record of the memories she made in Armenia, and also she has written a book "111 Gründe, Armenien Zu Lieben" (111 Reasons To Love Armenia)...

It is around 4 o’clock in the morning on a November night, the year is 2014, the sky is pitch dark, the city hasn't yet woken up... and Silvia Schmid has stepped off the airplane to discover Armenia for the very first time.

She knows that in the coming year, the capital will be her home for some time as the director of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) information center in Yerevan but what she doesn’t still know at this point is the attachment that she will get for this country and the inspiration it will spark in her, to the point of starting a blog about it. She will love the country for 111 reasons and she will even write a book about them.

Fast forward to a June evening in 2020, where I had a phone chat with Silvia who is now back to her native Germany. I was curious to see Armenia from her perspective, find out about her routine during the 3 years spent here, and get a peek at some of these “111 reasons to love Armenia” according to Silvia.

"The downtown feels like your outdoor living room"

Walking in Yerevan on summer nights is a pleasure. The capital is alive and dynamic, all the time … even past midnight. The city truly never sleeps, cafes are open, people are happy, you hear music at every corner, an accordionist here, some teenagers playing rock music over there and laughter in the air, the dancing fountains at the Republic square playing all kinds of music while the water dances to the rhythm. The mood is super relaxed, and these good vibes they get to you and uplift your mood, even without you noticing it.

And even though the city is crowded especially at summer nights where the weather becomes more adequate for a stroll, you still feel a cozy atmosphere and a sense of familiarity. Yerevan seems like an extension of your own home.

As a matter of fact, the center is safe, relatively safer than any other capital or big city. Crime rates in Armenia are extremely low and this makes the whole experience of being outside even more pleasant.

"The metro is a microcosm of Armenia''

Another thing that Silvia recalls doing regularly is taking the Barekamutyun Metro. There is something so heartwarming in knowing that the metro is used by everyone in Armenia, no matter their status, wealth or societal position. The metro is like a meeting point that assembles people, a common thread which connects everyone.

"People are warm yet not overwhelming"

Armenians are generous in all that they do. They like people, they like to be around people. Get to know someone, strike up a conversation with a total stranger and even invite them for coffee.

They would make sure that you are feeling comfortable, integrated, and at ease. But they are also very cautious about not invading your personal space, making sure not to bring up sensitive topics’ or be too intrusive. They master the balance of closeness and refrain.

Another example to this is during the Yerevan wine days, a two day event which happens in May where an endless number of wine and cheese producers gather in the center of the capital, mainly on Saryan street, which is one of the trendiest and hippest areas of Yerevan. What had struck her there is that despite the abundance of alcohol and the strongly joyful mood, you wouldn’t encounter any unpleasant situations. Armenians love to drink and have fun, but above all they know how to control themselves and when to stop.

Being around locals, and exploring different markets was one her favorite pastimes. Vernissage for souvenirs, the big Market of Gyumri for her favorite cheese the ‘’Kanach’’ (which resembles the blue cheese only stronger in taste and smell) and Yerevan’s Gum Market for fresh produce and all kinds of dried fruits (something that Armenians are famous for) . You feel a sense of true warmth that comes off from the sellers, they would be offering you free samples to taste, but never once were they annoying or make you feel compelled to buy. And if you bought something, chances are you will get an extra. It’s not unlikely that for a kilo of apricots the seller would give you some fresh cherries…

While in Armenia Silvia started a blog to keep a record of the memories she made in Armenia, and also she has written a book "111 Gründe, Armenien Zu Lieben" (111 Reasons To Love Armenia). At this moment, the book is available in German, and states so many fascinating things about the country, from historical facts to more personal tales and anecdotes.

However, her story with Armenia is far from over, and she is planning a visit soon, with a few projects and workshops in mind.

She is also eager to see the latest changes given the fact that she had noticed that the country had been progressing very fast. Between her first visit in 2014 and her last time being here in 2019, she recalls witnessing an obvious development. She noted that things are getting better, very fast, and you can see the devotion and determination in people’s eyes. She can’t wait to come back …

** By Grace Jerejian
*** Photos by Silvia Schmid

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