Nature is something interesting. We seem to all need it to recharge but we end up destroying it in order to make space for cities and concrete jungles.
And don’t take me wrong. I love cities. Whether it’s the craziness of Bangkok, the beautiful Old Town of Vilnius or my favourite city in the world, London, I love big cities.
However, it seems that every now and then I burn out of them.
After I had been living for 7 years in London I somehow decided it would be a clever idea to move to my hometown in Germany and “settle down”. A little town with less than 80,000 people.
Needless to say that after a short while me and my wife realised our mistake. You can’t just move from one of the greatest cities in the world, that is always bustling and full of energy and then settle down in a small town in the middle of nowhere.
We then decided to move to a city that would be a bit of a compromise – not too small but also not too big; full of energy, but not the sheer craziness of London; plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants around, but also a quick drive to get into nature. We moved to Vilnius, Lithuania.
After hopping around the world and living in Spain, Thailand, Malta and the United Kingdom, we now once again settled for a bit longer in a place – Valencia, Spain.
It’s once again a great compromise of a city – it’s Spain’s third largest city after Madrid and Barcelona, it has plenty of museums, bars, restaurants, Europe’s largest aquarium and many more things. However, it also got a lot of nature, with a beach directly in front of our house, a 12-km long park winding straight through the city and mountains in reach within a short drive.
Just before Christmas I took the 90-minute car ride to Valdelinares to go for my daughter’s first ski trip. Today we drove a short 45 minutes to get to a beautiful hiking spot and have a family day out.
It’s amazing that in Valencia you can go to the beach in the morning, hit the slopes in the afternoon and get back to the city park (Turia Park) for an evening stroll.
I’ve learned two things over the years.
Firstly, you don’t always have to aim for the largest and most famous cities in the world. Valencia is a large enough city to have all the important necessities you might be looking for. It has plenty of activities and nature surrounding it and you can either go all-in and have a hectic day in the city centre or you can relax by the beach or in the mountains if you need some time off.
Secondly, a metropolis like London doesn’t necessarily have to burn you out after all. My mistake was that in 7 years living in London I hardly ever escaped the city. I reckon that by simply taking some more weekend getaways to the British countryside and the occasional longer break to a beach in South East Asia or to a mountain top in the Alps, I would have easily maintained my sanity while living in this magnificent and fast-paced world capital.
It turns out there is no perfect city in the world. There might only be the best city for a specific time in your life.
For right now, that seems to be Valencia with its abundance of nature and city life all combined in one compact medium-sized city.
Who knows what city or country is best for our circumstances in 3 years from now!