London has always moved and surprised me, reinventing itself in ways both fresh and familiar. It's a contrary, complex and creative city, an anarchist of a thousand faces - fickle and unfailing, tender and bleak, ambitious and callous.
Since the summer days of my Canadian childhood, I have loved to canoe across the dark mirror of northern lakes, paddling with an inside flick of the blade, leaving a trail of twisting whirlpools in my wake.
To me, Berlin is as much a conceit as a reality. Why? Because the city is forever in the process of becoming, never being, and so lives more powerfully in the imagination.
Mandy Sutter's 'Bush Meat' triumphs in its lean prose and true dialogue, in its disarming humour, in its evocation of a family divided by sexism and racism in 1960s Nigeria.
I grew up under the spell of London. Illustrator Kerry Lee's evocative 1950 wall map of the city hung above our breakfast table at home in Canada. Over my corn flakes, I traced the capital's high roads and medieval alleys.
To me, it remains incomprehensible that a people who can design the Porsche 911 and sleek, white ice trains, who created the Bauhaus and speak at least three languages at birth, want to own twee Christmas figurines painted in gaudy colours, dress up in Bavarian lederhosen, and eat Haribo gummy bears.
Shakespeare and Co dedicates itself to a shared, heady and outdated ideal that is scarce in our protective and fearful age.
Berlin inspired Bowie and stirred him to write about real, important matters.
One of the most inexplicable characteristics of the Germans is their love of kitsch.
Eight months after graduating from Ryerson, there I was in West Berlin working with Marlene Dietrich and David Bowie and Kim Novak.
Bricks and mortar Berlin has become a kind of network across which visitors and residents interact as if on some sort of comfortable global platform.
In the Sixties, there were no guidebooks to Asia, at least none that suited young shoestring travelers. No one on the hippie highway carried a copy of Fodor's 'Islamic Asia.' The route to spiritual enlightenment wasn't revealed in the pages of the latest Baedeker. Intrepids were on a journey of spontaneity and reinvention.
Before I met David Bowie, I was very nervous. I thought, 'Here comes the Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust. How will I ever communicate with him?'
The earliest maps were 'story' maps. Cartographers were artists who mingled knowledge with supposition, memory and fears. Their maps described both landscape and the events, which had taken place within it, enabling travellers to plot a route as well as to experience a story.
My favourite places on earth are the wild waterways where the forest opens its arms and a silver curve of river folds the traveller into its embrace.
The travel book is a convenient metaphor for life, with its optimistic beginning or departure, its determined striving, and its reflective conclusion. Journeys change travellers just as a good travel book can change readers.
Berlin is all about volatility. Its identity is based not on stability but on change.
One of the most remarkable shindigs I ever attended was in Warsaw.