There is a saying that in Europe, a hundred miles is a long distance, whereas in America, a hundred years is a long time.
Arriving today in Berlin I am reminded that things are a little more complicated than that. Yes, it is true that parts of this city date back to before the sixteenth century (and some buildings date back to the thirteenth). This is a city with a long and storied history, possessed of the kind of unbroken cultural narrative from antiquity to the present that is simply absent from the American experience.
Yet the primary impression you get when you walk around Berlin is that the city is young. It is filled with people in their early twenties. They are on the streets, in the metro, hanging out in the parks and the restaurants. This is so much a city of youth, of bounding energy, of brash young hearts that swell with the belief in their own infinite possibility.
You can sense it in the faces, in the easy laughter, in the joyous sense of play between lovers and friends. It is that feeling of immortality known only to the very young or the very mad.