Plan B(erlin), containment, risk assessments

Ever since Frankfurt, we've been on Plan B(erlin). After Italy shut down, and the first part of our plans were scrapped, we've been expecting more best-laid plans to fall. As of today, they have.

What we originally envisioned:

  • Fly to Rome. Gradually travel northeast, from Rome → San Marino → Venice → Vienna → Prague
  • Attend an event in Prague
  • Fly from Prague to southern Spain. Gradually travel northeast, from Córdoba → Madrid → Andorra → Barcelona → Zurich → Liechtenstein → Frankfurt

A friend had a good point just now: our trip is not going as envisioned, but it is emphatically going to plan, which was: land, stay safe as long as possible, and evaluate risks and options at each step. Italy went into quarantine during our flight over, which meant we stopped at Frankfurt and then diverted to Berlin. Thus, Plan B is Plan B(erlin). 

We've been watching epidemiologist predictions about coronavirus spread, and Noah and I agreed today the plan cannot continue as scheduled. We believe containment in Spain has already failed, even though it hasn't been stated yet, and the odds of quarantines / restrictions in Spain are high. If we're following the same principle as Italy -- don't go into a place you aren't sure how to get out of again -- then Spain is off the table. 

Take Spain off the table, and the latter half of our itinerary is shot. Consider it erased. We are no longer playing for our original full itinerary; we are now playing for however long we think we can stay healthy AND a step ahead of quarantines and closures. That means we'll probably return home sooner than planned, AND need to stay closer to Frankfurt to ensure we [safely and healthily, y'all] make that rescheduled flight. (I want to be very clear here: we are taking these risks very, very seriously. See below.)

Also add in: we like Berlin. It's rainy and chilly, but that's familiar territory for us. The museums are lovely, the people have been kind, the food's delicious, and the language barrier small. Berlin's a damn good place to ride this mess out a bit longer, and we've got a wedding anniversary coming up in a few days.

We're extending our reservation here in Berlin a few more days. We like our hotel. They're definitely not at capacity, thanks to decreased tourism. We bought a museum pass today, and we can easily pad out the rest of this week just hitting up museums and soaking up the city. This decision also buys us a few days to make some judgment calls, depending on the state of the world around us:

  1. Containment and social distancing measures begin to take effect: Berlin → Warsaw → Vienna → Frankfurt to fly home.
  2. Containment fails slowly: Berlin → Vienna → Frankfurt to fly home.
  3. Containment fails, borders begin closing: Berlin → Frankfurt to get on the soonest flight out we can manage.

We think option 2 is most likely.

Berlin is in this strange limbo right now. Tourism attendance at museums is significantly down, but if you judged the locals by how they behave on mass transit, everything is fine here. The television has nightly epidemiology litanies from places quite close by, but we're the only ones wielding hand sanitizer openly. Masks are rare. If measures are being taken, they're being taken privately. It's like the virus is Italy's problem, Spain's problem, America's problem. Not a German problem.

Not yet.

The plan: sit tight. Get some laundry done. Use the museum passes. Scrutinize the news closely (Noah can attest to how much of my time each day this action takes up) and watch for signs that it's time to run for the hills.

We're safe. We're well. We're using our potions. We're keeping our distance from people, and we wish there was a clear and obvious answer for what to do next or how long to stay. Instead of easy answers, we just have risk assessments and each other.