Brandenberg Gate Biker

Brandenberg Gate (Credit: Robert Schlesinger/European Pressphoto Agency)

“IN the bungling and bellicosity that constitute the back and forth of history, worsened by natural disasters and unprovoked cruelty, humble citizens pay the highest price. To be a traveler in such circumstances can be inconvenient at best, fatal at worst. But if the traveler manages to breeze past such unpleasantness on tiny feet, he or she is able to return home to report: “I was there. I saw it all.” The traveler’s boast, sometimes couched as a complaint, is that of having been an eyewitness, and invariably this experience — shocking though it may seem at the time — is an enrichment, even a blessing, one of the life-altering trophies of the road.”