I grew up in a small Greek town by the sea, at the northern part of the country, with population of around 65,000. The size of the city, according to my standards, is perfect. It is small enough to have a neighborhood, safe, environment outside the city centre for the children but also means of escape for the adolescents. It is built amphitheatrically overlooking the sea and a very picturesque older area. However, what it greatly lacks is green areas!
The surrounding mountains of the city, the small availability of land, the lack of proper city planning and people’s greed forced my hometown to rise much higher than other cities of the same size consuming almost every bit of open space. Apart from some conserved (thank god) older structures, most buildings are 5 to 6 floors high, creating a forest of grey with no traces of green. To give you an idea, there is one designated area called ‘the park’ and another called ‘the garden’! That’s it.
What’s generally saves the picture is the sea! Almost any town or city by the sea can be beautiful! There are so many places, small cafes, cosy tavernas or romantic spots in my town overlooking that ever changing blue that makes it one of the loveliest towns of the country. There are also so many amazing beaches in such a close proximity that made my childhood’s summers unforgettable! I’ve spent hundreds of hours every year by the sea swimming, fishing, sun bathing, playing summer sports etc.
When I moved to London all this changed. There is no sea close by with warm blue waters to go swimming. Still, nature’s all beautifully around in my everyday life. Even in such a vast metropolis of about 8 million habitats, there are so many large parks, commons, forests, open spaces, rivers and animals. Every time I go to my local supermarket, I walk next to a small river surrounded by trees with ducks, some swans or the occasional heron. I spot squirrels and foxes on that footpath so frequently that I never thought possible in such a large city! I’m not delusional; I can see the pollution and the garbage. I’m not denying that. However, I choose to ignore it, focus on the green surroundings and try to escape to a large park when no building can be seen or a car heard when possible.
walking around the river
sleeping in the back garden