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Describing Cities
N.B. When we write an article describing a visit to a place, we use past tenses to describe what we saw, what we did there, the weather and our impressions of the place. We use present tenses to say where the place is and what it is like. We can use our senses (sight, hearing smell) to make the description more interesting.

My ideal city

My ideal city is probably too perfect to be real. It is most likely a large metropolitan city. I don’t want a city that I can thoroughly explore in just one day. However, I also don’t desire a city that is endlessly sprawled and sterile of unique or local character. A smaller city with exceptional urban form and culture would be much better than a larger metro made up of only cheap sprawl.
My ideal city is centered around a historic, yet vibrant, downtown that is built up densely with pleasing urban form. Row houses and mixed-use neighborhoods are the norm. There are no freeways slicing through neighborhoods and the automobile is not the dominant mode of transportation. The city provides the convenience of chain retailers and eateries, but is not oversaturated. Locally or regionally-owned, neighborhood businesses dominate, exceeding typical big box stores and drive-thrus.
In my ideal city, people of different races, religions, and incomes would be able to live together in harmony. Low-income housing is intermixed with middle and upper class homes in the same neighborhoods. Citizens take pride in their neighborhoods and city. Diverse and mixed-use neighborhoods keep crime down, allowing for more “eyes on the street.” By celebrating its diversity, this city affords a multitude of cultural, educational, and entertainment opportunities.
Sustainability and efficiency is important for a good city. This means environmentally friendly buildings, compact urban design, and of course transportation. The ideal city has minimal sprawl and retains its historic urban form and density. Public transportation is an integral part of the city landscape, comprising of both rail and bus modes. The city also has an intensive bike and walking trail system, providing another legitimate mean of transportation, in addition to recreation.
All cities have good and bad elements. I look forward to exploring more in the future to refine my definition of what the ideal is. Based on my experiences so far, the ideal city I describe is urban, sustainable, and diverse.

Match the City and the description

Paris -- Kuala Lumpur -- Sydney
Rio de Janeiro --Cairo

A. _________________________________
While this is the country's oldest city and also one of its major economic centres, it is not
the capital. As well as fantastic beaches and loads of sun, the city boasts huge
skyscrapers, friendly people and great restaurants. Possessing a great energy, this place
has come a long way since its beginning as a penal colony.

B. _________________________________
This is a loud and heavily populated city. It's an unpredictable place, absolutely full of
people with a real intensity about it: you will either love it or hate it. New tower blocks
stand next to traditional houses made of sun-baked mud, with some of the oldest and
most famous monuments in the world visible from the city centre. Why try and be so
modern when your city is famous for having something so old?

C. _________________________________
Home to almost 2 million people, this lively, colourful capital has been built up from
virtually nothing in 130 years. It is currently home to the tallest building in the world,
comprised of two huge towers as well as many modern buildings crafted with an Islamic
flavour to their design. Tradition has not been forgotten here, though, as is evidenced in
the thriving night markets and street life all over the city.

D. _________________________________
A place of world-class food, museums and architecture and considered the most romantic
city in the world by some, this capital city demands to be photographed, painted and
enjoyed by the young and not-so-young alike. Lights upon the river at night attract
couples from all over the world to honeymoon or rediscover their love for one another.
And for art lovers, it is home to some of finest masterpieces in the world. Visiting all of
the city's museums would take at least a month.

E. _________________________________
Known locally as the 'marvellous city', it attracts visitors looking for a good time.
Famous for its carnival and spectacular location on the coast, this populous city always
has room for a few more visitors in its hotels. The locals are fanatical about sport so head
down to the beach for a game of football in the sand and see if you can spot any

Questions to answer
  1. Where is the city located?
  2. When was it build?
  3. Who is said to be the founder of the city?
  4. Does it have some interesting events in its history?
  5. What landmarks does it have?
  6. What can visitors see there?
  7. What can visitors do in their free time?
  8. What are good elements of this city?
  9. What are bad?
  10. What do you think of this city?
Venice is beautiful but it’s always packed (= very crowded) with tourists.
New York is very cosmopolitan. (= full of people from different countries and cultures)
St Petersburg has lots of historic monuments. (= important places built a long time ago)
Many beautiful cities are now very touristy. (= a negative word: ‘too much tourism’)
Sao Paolo is a really lively place (= full of life and activity) and the nightlife is fantastic.



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