My first sight of Germany comes as the pilot banks hard over Berlin. We’ve been in the air for just over nine hours, with nothing but the Atlantic and clouds below. And suddenly there’s a stark white landscape with buildings sticking up out of a dusting of fresh snow. I’ve gone from 80 degrees in South Florida to below freezing in Berlin, and I couldn’t be happier.
I’m met at the airport by my cultural attache. Okay . . . it’s a woman driving a taxi, and she’s not really there for me; she’s there for any fare. But the fates have placed us together, me and this woman with copious amounts of makeup over her wrinkles and other signs of heavy wear. She looks rough, but her rearview mirror is full of smiles. And her taste in music is impeccable.
The entire way to the hotel, she blasts American rock. The first song out of the gate, I shit you not, is Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. As soon as it comes on, the cab driver says “Good” and cranks the knob (well, she taps the volume button on her phone, which is strapped to the dash — but there’s no tapping of buttons in rock and roll, there’s the cranking of knobs). We dart through traffic and drifting snow and bang our heads and sing much too loudly, feeding off each other’s inability to carry a tune, and I’m thinking how damn perfect this song is for an introduction to Berlin.
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