Europe is a Many-Splendored Land

Some of our observations don’t fall into any specific country bucket:

  1. I always thought that Danish was more like German and that Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish were all fairly similar. Based on how shampoo bottles and the like group descriptions of their fabulous, volumizing products, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian are fairly similar – and Finnish is different. Also, the words for ‘thank you,’ and ‘do you speak English, French, or Russian?’ are almost identical in Danish and in Swedish.
  2. Most European countries require a chip-and-pin credit card, or they can’t run it. You can use debit cards, but swipe credit cards are becoming a relic here. (Exception so far: Poland.)
  3. Most European countries have a post-scan conveyer belt bagging area. But rather than having just one area, they have a slider, not unlike a bowling ball machine which alternates the side to which it sends each ball. So, person one can still be bagging, while the cashier rings up person two – preventing ownership confusion. I can already see myself being annoyed with the lack of this when I return to the US.
  4. Many big city subway cars now have digital screens – mainly for ads. But, multiple countries also use them to teach riders new words in various languages. In Warsaw, I saw the word ‘hero’ translated into 4 different languages, none of which was English, but one of which was Ukrainian (which is how I figured it out). However, the display was also trying to teach an English idiom: ‘to blow your own trumpet.’ (Have you ever heard anyone say that? I’ve only heard ‘horn’ used.) In Stockholm, there was a similar effort with another English phrase.
  5. Many countries in Europe primarily offer heavily-padded bras and bathing suits. This is particularly entertaining given that the alternative for many of these women is to wear no bra.
  6. In Hungary and in Croatia – and likely, in other Eastern European countries, they use ‘scented’ toilet paper. It’s not white, but the color of the scent: violet for ‘lavender,’ pink for ‘rose,’ etc.

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