Get ready for some philosophical stuff on this page.
Do not hurry through your trip. Take time to just sit in one place and watch the world go by. Take time to investigate the small things. Like the animals that are everywhere. The pets people have. The way people dress. The cars they drive. The bicycles they seem to love. Look at their shoes.
When there is a park that you pass, walk into it. Observe the flowers. Smell the roses, if you will. Check out the grass. Listen to the sounds of the city. Sit on a bench for a couple hours. Notice the buildings around you. Notice the traffic. Notice the people. Listen to the sounds around you. I find time spent like this to be memorable.
Try to watch local television and listen to local radio where ever you happen to be. Pick up free brochures, buy a local newspaper and magazines. Or better yet find a free one in the trash or on a bench. Look though it. Look in all directions, even up. See what you can see. Take in everything. These are often overlooked aspects of travel that will give you a feeling of greater participation and immersion then if you simply fall into a schedule routine where you know where you are by the day of the week you are there.
Meet the people. Say hello to anyone. Let them try out their English on you. Don't correct them unless they ask. Try out your foreign language skills on them. Ask for help. Avoid slang which they might not know. Stick to basic grammar.
Wow. Thinking back on all that I have seen and done makes me want to go back and see and do it all over again. One time I noticed a young couple sitting in a waiting room at a train station. They were watching people who entered the waiting room to see if they pushed or pulled at the door. They made a gesture to one another that I must be a bright guy because I got it right. I had looked at the hinges and they noticed that. Well, you need to look at the hinges and door knobs and glass and paint and everything to get the most out of your trip.
The small stuff is all there is that matters. Stop at unplanned places. Step into department stores. Look over the offerings at a flea market. Go into museums.
Buy stuff at a supermarket to eat and have a picnic on a park bench. Or on the train. Or in the middle of a city. Life will pass you by. They may even smile at your freedom to do this. As an American, I have cooked eggs on a stove in the back of my VW camping bus while it was parked on the Champs Elyses in Paris about three blocks from the Arch of Triumph. Most French people who walked past made some sort of approval gesture. Who says the French are so bad? Not me. I lived there in Paris for a year and loved the place.
Follow your passion. If you like clocks, look at everyone you see. If you like candles, observe all of them. Ask questions. Buy catalogs. Take brochures that are free. Sample food you would never try at home. Be free.
Go slowly enough to have a good time.
Bring home a department store catalog in the local language. It will be inexpensive and will provide hours of entertainment when your trip is over. You may also be able to pay a small sum to have one mailed to your home. That would save the weight in your luggage.
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