B2 Reading Test
You are going to read about Alicia’s experiences living in four different cities. For questions 1-10, choose from the cities A-D. You may choose each city more than once.
Finding calm in cities
While studying here, I stayed in an apartment in Saint Catherine’s Square. In medieval times, this would have been a bustling area used for markets and public gatherings, but now it’s a little haven of calm, away from traffic and commerce. There are places like this dotted around the city, most of which have benches where you can rest your feet. There’s no greenery in them, though. It would have been nice to get some shade from a tree or enjoy its blossom. The city as a whole lacks green spaces or paths beside the river where you can enjoy nature. Even so, under the canopy of a sidewalk café, with your back against a café window, you can detach yourself from the fast pace of city life and while away the hours even on the city’s busiest streets.
As a city, Kampela is entirely utilitarian. The purpose of its streets is simply to shift people and goods from one place to another. Consequently, they are devoid of any aesthetic attributes, like statues or old decorative features. Since there’s nothing of appeal to make you want to linger, everyone just puts their head down and gets where they want to be as quickly as possible. As a result, it doesn’t give the impression of a relaxing city. That said, once you get where you want to be, you will often find yourself somewhere peaceful and serene. For there is no shortage of quiet tea shops and bars designed with soft lighting and comfortable furniture to calm your nerves. Many of these have outdoor spaces at the back, which are quiet and well-tended despite being overlooked by other buildings.
Urban planners in Pokamarka seem to have not considered that people might enjoy eating or drinking outside since wide pavements or pedestrianized zones which might house a bench or a café don’t exist here. If you want to keep moving, though, you can get some quiet time in plenty of places. The routes along the canal are perfect for stretching the legs. Moreover, the city’s park is barely used, though it’s not terribly well maintained. It’s hard to find somewhere to sit which looks both clean and able to support someone’s weight. There’s rather a lot of graffiti and vandalism, which has probably discouraged the local council from planting trees and flowers. The few that exist look rather unkempt.
From an aerial photograph, you would think that Melwick would have plenty of peaceful outdoor spaces. After all, its harbour location offers lots of paved walkways and open plazas, and Great Park is well-known for its stunning trees and botanical gardens, which are just as spectacular in real life as in pictures. The problem is that these spaces are always heaving with tourists trying to take selfies against the statues and memorials, so trying to relax there will make you stressed and irritated. Your best option is to get on a ferry or cable car at a quiet time of day. Then, you can watch the city drift past in peace. However, time it wrong and you’ll be queuing next to a load of noisy school kids. Even the cafes don’t give you any kind of refuge, as the servers want you in and out as quickly as possible.
Take the reading test. Which city is being described?
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