Berlin, cut clouds moving quickly. Crisp autumn air. Wide streets. Unfathomable history.
We set out on borrowed bicycles. They give me pause: Audrey’s back tire has a leak and my handlebars wobble like something out of the Wizard of Oz.
I begin to move. My apprehension fades, those handlebars steadier than I imagined.
“It's like riding a bicycle,” I laugh to myself.
The wideness of it all makes me feel unassailable, like I can take on the world. I cannot imagine a better way to consume this city: at street level.
Turkish woman with covered head, her baby in a car seat. Man in rich, forest green velvet pants and a checkered shirt. Maybe he is an artist. Maybe he is today's fashion. Or perhaps he is both.
This is Berlin. This is their home. It speaks freedom, opportunity, possibility.
Everyone is cycling. And most are breaking the rules. Cycling in Berlin is the most un-German of German sports. I’m thankful it's not easy to be called out for my transgressions.
I see a juggler performing at a stoplight. He struggles to make ends meet yet he gives his all at each light change. I drop a few coins into his hat. “Danke schön,” he says with a smile.
There goes Alexanderplatz. To some, Berlin doesn’t have the edge it used to. To me, it still tries to figure itself out. This is oddly loveable.
Our journey: the open air. Our destination: lunch.
“Grazie mille,” we bubble to an Italian waitress as our pizza arrives. Cherry tomatoes, chunks of buffalo mozzarella. My mind wanders briefly to places like Amalfi and Palermo.
If there's a heaven and I make it, I just may cycle the streets of Berlin to get there. And when I arrive, something like this might be waiting for me.
I am thankful for a moment like this — all two hours of it.