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Updated Tuesday, 9th August 2005

Simon Calder, Travel Editor of the Independent explains his love of cities, whilst Susy Smith, Editor of Country Living opts for the country

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Are you a city fan?


YES says Simon Calder, Travel Editor of The Independent

"I love cities. I think the city is the natural conclusion of human society, the inevitable - and wonderful - agglomeration of mankind. All human life (and death) is there.

My favourite city is Mumbai in India. It’s the quintessence of city life: intensely cosmopolitan, hyperactively commercial, visually and aurally compelling, with grandeur side by side with poverty. I think any of the cities I have explored is worth another visit , but if I could return to any, I’d love to go back to Istanbul - for much the same reasons as I love Mumbai. One capital I have no desire ever to see again is Managua, Nicaragua. It’s horrible, they have earthquakes every twenty minutes, it’s therefore not very pretty, it just doesn’t work as a good place to visit!

Of all the cities I have visited, I think Havana has changed the most over time, probably because of the extraordinary economic pressures it has endured for the past decade. I think we change as individuals more quickly than cities, so I guess it’s also about how my perceptions have changed. There are so many cities I still haven’t had the chance to visit and I’m keen to explore, in particular in Africa (Lagos, Cairo) and the Middle East (Damascus, Baghdad)."

NO says Susy Smith, Editor of Country Living

"I like living in the countryside because I love the space - seeing the sky and the view across open fields. I love the peace and quiet. I love the feeling of community - knowing the people in my village - not like the anonymity of the city, and playing a role in the wide variety of activities that take place here in my village.

I still work in London so get my fix of city life but I moved out of the suburbs to live in the countryside because I wanted the peace and quiet I craved. My big passion is gardening and I wanted a bigger garden which most urban homes don’t have. I dislike the city. I hate the dirt, the noise, the traffic, the crowds of people and the claustrophobic feeling all of this gives me.

There are so many benefits of living in the countryside. I have my half acre of garden which I can enjoy, I can feel the sense of community, I can see wildlife on my doorstep: a wide variety of birds visit my bird table. I can take long walks in fresh air and often see hares and deer on my walks. You won’t see that in the city.

I grew up in the suburbs of Belfast which were on the fringes of the countryside. I don’t really think that has anything to do with how I feel now about the countryside. Although one cannot generalise, by and large most people love the buzz of city life when they are younger and once the novelty wears off or their priorities change, they want more peace in their lives: the countryside is then the obvious place to go. This is where you can discover your inner peace."



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