The one building in Berlin that I really wanted to see and photograph was the iconic Brandenburger Tor – the Brandenburg Gate. So on my first morning in the city I was out of the hotel quite early, onto the U-bahn to Französiche Strasse, walked north a little way up Friedrichstrasse, then west along Unter den Linden to the Brandenburger Tor. Typically, I found there a pop stage on one side and a TV truck on the other, for an event taking place that weekend; after several weeks on the road I was getting used to my historic subjects being obscured by the paraphernalia of modern life.

Two days later my time in Berlin had been forcibly extended by a day due to the cancellation of my night train home, so I went back to the Brandenburg Gate as late as possible before I had to get to the Hauptbahnhof for my rebooked train. The stage and banners and TV truck had gone, although there were still fences closing off the area while the rubbish was cleared. I managed to take some photos just above the fences, and waited for the light to go to make the best of the very good floodlighting.

Clearly no chance of using the tripod, which anyway was well packed away by that time, so once again the Nikon 18-200 VR lens saved the day. The chance of night shots of the Brandenburg Gate was one reason I'd lugged the tripod all around Germany and Austria (the other being the opera house in Dresden), but with all the activity going on in front of it I think one would have to be there in the early hours of the morning for Pariser Platz to be reasonably empty.

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