Don’t regret a missed opportunity, but learn from it

We were in Berlin last week. Most of the time, when I’m traveling somewhere, I study as much as a I can and I come away with a list of things I want to see and do. I did t do this with Berlin. We decided to take the hop-on-hop-off bus around town, get a feel for the sites and hop-off on the second lap.
Berlin is so big that the hop-on-hop-off bus takes a couple of hours to make a loop, so we decided to hop off when we saw something interesting. I was a bit uninterested by the sites around Berlin, nothing really appealed to me, but Karalee was interested in Checkpoint Charles, and seeing the wall, so we jumped off there.
Before the stop, I spotted a number of Trabant 601s driving down the rode. The Trabant 601 was East Germany’s answer to the Volkswagen Beetle. They possess a beautiful mid-century, euro styling that I absolutely adore, and an engineering ingenuity that comes from being sequestered from the rest of the modern world.

The entire block around Checkpoint Charlie has grown to be a tourist attraction, with a section of the Berlin Wall and museum, souvenir shops and Trabiworld, a museum dedicated to one of the few remaining symbols of East German culture. In the backlot of the museum they had at least a hundred 601s, painted in every scheme from tiger stripes to giraffe spots, slowly disintegrating into a field. In addition to the museum, there was Trabi Safari, a group driving tour.
I regretted not going into the museum, or taking the driving tour, or doing anything but going into the gift shop. This was the destination I should have known about. There’s very little in Berlin that is more “me” than Trabiworld.

But regret is a waste of time and energy. If I’ve learned anything in life it’s that you can’t turn back the clock. Instead we learn from it.

Don’t go anywhere without doing the research. You don’t need a minute-by-minute itinerary, but a list with a few must-dos, and an accompanying map, will make sure you don’t miss out on the very cool thing you want to see.

Don’t waste time wandering. I’m not saying that wandering is a waste of time, or that you shouldn’t wander to discover new things. But, if you get stuck walking through a bunch of bland office buildings for half an hour because you don’t know where you’re going, then you lost some of your precious time.
Especially on a cruise, you’re probably in a city you will never return to, make the most of that time. Mark your favorites on a map, plot a walking course between them and use that time for discovery.

Don’t let four euros come between you and something you want to see. At Trabiworld I was worried about time and we were both miserable with the sweltering summer heat. I was planning to see the museum, but when I saw that it costed four euros and I would have to run my credit card a second time, I used that as an excuse.
Running a second credit card transaction is a small price to pay for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I won’t let that happen again.

it’s not just a matter of learning these lessons, it’s about applying them in real-time. We need to build that list of must-dos well in advance, take them with us, and in the moment, when all you can think of is how much you have to pee, you have to remind yourself – you’re not coming back to Berlin, go for that ride in a tiny commie car.