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Wow, That’s Genius!

I have just spent one short but glorious week in Copenhagen and Paris with my husband. Both cities hold special places in my heart.

Copenhagen because I was born there of a Danish mother and spent many hyggelig (cozy) times there with my Danish family, including a summer with my Mormor (literally mother’s mother). As always when visiting, I got my fill of my favorite childhood foods: open-faced sandwiches called smØrrebrØd, Danish meatballs called frikkadeller, Danish pastries laced with almond paste, and flØdeboller confections (chocolate puffs filled with whipped marshmallow cream). My cousin Sophia and her family welcomed us for a wonderful home-cooked dinner in their newly renovated home on the outskirts of the capital.

Then on to Paris, where we stayed in the 7th arrondissement rather than our usual Latin Quarter digs (reasonably priced hotel rooms were in scarce supply due to Fashion Week). What a delight to walk down the street and find Eiffel tower sightings at every corner. I loved practicing my native French, although it’s very amusing to see the quizzical looks on people’s faces when I speak with hardly an accent but don’t seem to know basic words (hidden in the recesses of my brain from lack of use). For example, I requested extra pillows at the hotel and could not remember the name for them (oreillers!).

We walked miles and miles in both cities, soaking in the sights, sounds, and energy. It felt so great to travel internationally again after a Covid hiatus.

I also marveled at the ingenuity I discovered. So much so I decided to videotape two clever and delightful contraptions so I could share them with you!

First, to Copenhagen. Check out this well-behaved luggage conveyor belt at baggage claim in the airport. What? The sensors detect when there’s luggage already on the conveyor belt and await an opening to thrust the new piece of luggage onto the belt. Compare that to the conveyor belts I’ve seen in the US, where luggage is thrust onto the moving belt regardless of how crowded it already is. I’ve seen some real pile-ups that make it difficult for travelers to retrieve their luggage. This often requires that airport personnel be on task to disentangle the bags that are in disarray. Such a simple solution!

Second, to Paris. Now I’m a sucker for fresh-squeezed orange juice (no, Tropicana doesn’t count). In Chicago, they squeeze it in store and it’s lined up ready for purchase; it is delicious! (Nope, not available fresh squeezed in my Sarasota grocery stores—I spend winters in Sarasota. What? I mean, isn’t Florida the orange capital of the world?). But get this for freshness… In Paris, the OJ is fresh squeezed on demand, by the customer, at the push of a button! Here’s me videotaping Peter getting our daily little bottle to share. It’s a quick one!

These little discoveries remind me that there is so much ingenuity in all countries and cultures. Let’s not fall prey to “not invented here.” Instead, let’s import each other’s ideas to make our world yes, more efficient and delicious, but also kinder and more equitable too.

YOUR TURN: What clever ideas have you come across in your travels abroad? Please share them in the comments!

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  1. Rena

    I have never traveled abroad but am ready to get out there. It’s been a long few years, but I’m hoping to visit Ireland and London within the next year or so.

    • Hélène

      I’ve never been to Ireland or Scotland — definitely on my list!

  2. Diane

    WOW! I absolutely love ingenuity and creativity! I am in AWE!

    • Hélène

      I know right? Thanks for reading!

  3. Dora

    What a good idea to make short videos about the innovations you observe! I’ve seen some curiosities in past travels, such as escalators that move much faster than they do in the US.

    • Hélène

      Good one! Those fast escalators are great but can be a little scary to hop on and off of… Thanks for commenting Dora!


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