So much has happened in Berlin. Once the epicentre of an ill-fated empire and of the reprehensible ideology that soon superseded it; then a Cold War flashpoint where two systems eyed each other warily through razor wire. You could lose yourself in its history, in its fine museums. Instead, I pedalled past them, and past the Holocaust Memorial and the Bundestag and the prestigious Humboldt University and through the imperious Brandenburg Gate, over the line that marks where the wall that divided the city for 28 years once stood. Perhaps I’ll come back to view that mighty Babylonian relic, the Ishtar Gate, in the Pergamon, but on this, my first visit to Berlin, I felt inclined to remain immersed in the present. It was hot and sunny, the days long. I stayed outside as much as I could, relishing the city’s abundant green public space. My wheels spun puffs of dust under the soaring plane trees in the sprawling Tiergarten. I dangled my legs in the delicious eddies of the fake waterfall in...

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