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FauxSteMarie Aug 17th, 2007 05:30 PM

Biggest Coincidence Ever To Happen To You in Europe
Many years ago, I went to the opera at The Festival in Edinburgh. On my seat, for a reason I never did learn, was an invitation to have a drink at the first intermission. I think they were trying to cultivate American donors, but I really don't know.

OK, I go to the reception and some one shouts my name. I turn around and looked into the face of my Mom's first cousin and his wife. Unbelieveable. Neither they nor I knew the other was traveling.

My first cousin and his wife had just been having a discussion, "It's her. It couldn't be her. Etc." I hadn't noticed them.

When the opera ended they took a limo back to their hotel and I took the bus back to my home exchange house. They could have given me a lift in the limo damn it!

FauxSteMarie Aug 17th, 2007 05:36 PM

There I was in Budapest. It had been difficult traveling with my girlfriend. She wanted to shop. I wanted museums and culture. So, I invoked our "split up" agreement and it worked out. Everyone was happy.

Well, we got together in the evenings for entertainment (even our food desires did not mesh as I was much more food adventurous than she was). One night we went to a Hungarian folk dance performance in an auditorium by the rear of our hotel. OK, the performance is over. They are selling CD's--my favorite souvenir. We each bought a 4 CD series of modern Hungarian folk music.

Well, I get home and begin to play and sort through all the CD's I bought. One reason we bought the set of the 4 CD's is that there was a booklet with it that was in Hungarian and English. As I am playing the 3rd CD, I look at the booklet and my eyes nearly fell out. My cousin, who is involved in klezmer music, was singing on the 5th cut. I quickly played the cut just to be sure and it was him. Unbelievable!

FauxSteMarie Aug 17th, 2007 05:36 PM

OK, I've told my stories. Now you tell yours.

PalenqueBob Aug 17th, 2007 05:37 PM

On a bus up to Leukerbad in Switzerland i sat in the back and in the back row were four folks from a town near my town (as i heard them say) and then had a toy banana that they were hiding in each other's belongings as a joke - a continuing joke during their whole trip.

On the bus someone discovered it hidden in their luggage and made a big deal of it - that's how i heard what the game was.

They got off in Leukerbad as i did

When i came a few hours later to take the bus back down to the Rhone Valley and the train station i was sitting again the the rear of the bus

And in the exact same seat as the girl who had discovered and made a big deal out of the hidden practical joke banana was a German-speaking young girl who was

peeling a banana and then ate it.

ira Aug 18th, 2007 06:25 AM

I was spending a Summer as a researcher at the Danish Nuclear Research Center in Roskilde.

One afternoon, a gentleman came up to me and called me by name. Bob and I hadn't seen each other for 25 years.


Uma Aug 18th, 2007 06:59 AM

Our second visit to Italy was to Rome and Sorrento/Amalfi Coast last year. I knew that my boss was also going to be in Rome and Venice, and that we would have a day or two overlapping in Rome, but we made no plans to meet there.
While on our ContextRome tour in St. Peter's, amidst the throngs of people, I noticed my boss walking with another tour group ahead of us. I ran up to her, chatted for a minute but had to run back to our tour group, who were already far ahead. Later we ran into her again outside St. Peters while we waited for a taxi.

PaulRabe Aug 18th, 2007 08:00 AM

My wife and I were married in a church in Austin, Texas. A few years later we worshipped at a small church in London, England, and chatted with the pastor for a few minutes. He asked, "Where are you from?" "Austin, Texas." "Do you know happen to know.." and he then named the pastor who married us! It turned out the London pastor had visited our congregation several years earlier.

sallyjane3 Aug 18th, 2007 09:03 AM

My DD flew from Nairobi thru Amsterdam to Rome and I flew from Atlanta to Rome. MANY hours spent on planes.

We were excitedly talking with each other over drinks when the man next to her, having heard our decidedly Southern accents, leaned over, and asked, "Where are y'all from?"

He was from Savannah, 3 hours away fom where I live.

Lauricelli Aug 18th, 2007 09:45 AM

Here's one that happened on our most recent trip to Europe last Sept. We arrived in Paris at CDG and found our driver waiting for us in the parking area. First thing I notice is how much he reminds me of my dad. As we drive from the airport to the hotel we talk to the whole way. Sal is a great history buff. We enjoy his company so much. He tells us that he is usually doing tours not airport pick-ups but someone was sick. We tell him we have a guided tour booked for tomorrow and we would now like to go with him instead. He looks at his schedule and says that he is sorry he is already booked for tomorrow with a party named Bleier. We burst out "that's our friends!! That's us. You're booked with us!" It ended up being an absolutely wonderful time with Sal and we hired him for an extra day.

Zeus Aug 18th, 2007 10:00 AM

While on a family summer vacation my wife and I bumped into one of her students waiting in the Northwest check-in line at Sydney aiport - 9953 miles from home.

tdk320n Aug 18th, 2007 10:04 AM

We were traveling in Sicily about 5 years ago with some friends.We were ending our stay in Siracusa and while my husband was putting our luggage in our car, i went to the desk in the lobby to check out. I heard some one call my name.It was a woman that both my husband and I had worked with about 25 years earlier and had not seen in all that time. She also was touring about Italy and we made plans to meet again in Cortona. A chance meeting that was fun and renewed an old friendship.

ccrosner Aug 18th, 2007 10:05 AM

Were in Bellagio, Italy and recognized a couple at a small restaurant one night. Said nothing. The next day we get on the ferry to Menaggio (across Lake Como) and I figure out that I DO know this couple. They are the parents of a high school friend from NJ! But my husband says I always run into someone while travelling....but that's the best of the stories.

SAnParis Aug 18th, 2007 10:15 AM

While waiting at the train station in Rothenburg we met another American couple, also from Charlotte, whose best friend was one of my co-workers. We were all headed back to Munich to stay at the Hotel Uhland so we spent some time w/them there when we arrived. It IS a small world.

SeaUrchin Aug 18th, 2007 10:18 AM

I was taking a guided tour into a deep cave in New Mexico. When we got way inside I thought I heard a voice from even further back in the empty cave saying "didn't you go to ---- High School?" It was completely dark except for our flashlights and I thought I was imagining things. The guide talked and then suggested we be silent so we could get the full effect of the experience. "Didn't you go to --- High School?" came a small faraway eerie voice from the darkness and silence. Our group was stunned and peered back into the cave where there emerged a fellow from my high school in Southern California. We had graduated many years earlier and he had become a tour guide in the area.

Whenever I think of this I smile.

SeaUrchin Aug 18th, 2007 10:18 AM

oh, sorry, wasn't Europe.

tdyls Aug 18th, 2007 10:28 AM

Story #1:

This happened more than 10 years ago.

I was in the middle of the Sistine Chapel, gazing up and gawking at the ceiling, just like everyone else. Then I quite literally bumped into my old scoutmaster and his family from boy scouts from years past. He and his family were on a tour of Europe, and me and my family were in Italy for the first time.

tdyls Aug 18th, 2007 10:37 AM

Story #2:

In 1999, my father was teaching a summer study-abroad class in Montepulciano, Italy, along with 3 or 4 other professors. The professors' families all tagged along for the 6-week vacation and R&R. During the 6 weeks, we met the whole class and got to know many of them very well, some of whom we kept in touch with. While we were there, we became regular customers of the Man In The Yellow Shirt's store, and he and his family started to recognize us. (The Man in The Yellow Shirt was called that -- by more than one person in the group -- for his propensity to wear a Yellow Shirt).

Anyway, a year or two later, we heard through the grapevine that one of the students in the class had run off with the Man In the Yellow Shirt. This person was a "nontraditional" student (read: older than typical college-student age), so we thought "Great, wow, how Under-the-Tuscan-Sunnish! Good for her!"

In 2002, we returned to Italy for a vacation and spent a couple of days in Montepulciano. We thought "how cool would it be to see this former student, now Mrs. Yellow Shirt." Well, lo and behold, we did! We were walking up the main street in Montepulciano, and saw her. She was sitting at a picnic table at a restaurant just up the street from the Yellow Shirt store. It turns out that she did NOT run off with Mr. Yellow Shirt, but she did/does come to Montepulciano for several weeks every summer, and she and Mr. Yellow Shirt are good friends.

Shortly before seeing not-Mrs. Yellow Shirt, I went into the Man in the Yellow Shirt's store. Mr. Yellow Shirt's son was behind the counter, and he recognized me in a heartbeat, even after three years and countless thousands of tourists in between!

travelerjan Aug 18th, 2007 10:46 AM

This doesn't involve an old classmate or friend encountered in faraway places ... no, much weirder.

At 7 am one morning on the Greek Isle of Amorgos, I walked down the beach for coffee. Waiting to get my thermos filled, I saw a blonde guy puzzling over a map. When I offered to help, he thanked me in sing-song English. "Are you Swedish?" I asked. "My grandparents came from Sweden, in 1890 or so."

"Where from?" I laughed and said you wouldn't even know it, it's a teensy village way up by the Arctic Circle. He looked at me oddly and said "try me."

I told him, and he gasped, "but I am from there. What was their name?" Again I laughed, saying all the family had left Sweden except fo one person. He persisted. When I told him the name, he said "That is a very unusual name...and a fellow of that name was in my gymnasium graduating class. It must be his great-grandson."

So we laughed, said "Small world," and drank our coffee...the elixir of Sweden.

Jean Aug 18th, 2007 10:50 AM

I have three stories, saving the best for last:

Many years ago, we were on the train to Venice, and sitting behind us were two college girls who were studying in Spain and taking one of those marathon long-weekend tours kids of that age like to do. They didn't have a hotel reservation in Venice and had no idea of what to see and do there (!) when they arrived. I loaned them my guidebook to scan through, and we chatted a bit. When the ticket guy came around just before we reached Mestre, it turned out they were ticketed for 2nd class and sitting in 1st class. They really had no idea there was a difference. Anyway, they had to move, and we wished them luck. Over the next two days, we saw them five times and even took them to lunch so we could hear about their adventures.

On our last trip, there was a woman on our plane from LAX that I noticed again on our connecting flight to Milan. After we checked into our hotel and began wandering around the Duomo area, I saw her exiting the metro with her luggage in tow. When we got back to our hotel after dinner, she was at the desk retrieving her key. We left the next day for Florence and a couple of days later took the train to Pisa to meet up with friends. There she was in the Pisa train station! A few days later, we were in a cab coming back from a lunch outside of Florence, and there she was walking past the Bargello. I was really starting to get paranoid, but that was it. Six sightings in about 4 days.

On the same recent trip, we had driven to Urbino and thought we'd have a view of the Adriatic before we headed back to Spoleto. We stopped in tiny Marotta for coffee, a pit stop and map check. Sitting at a sidewalk cafe, I look up to see my cousin walking by! He and his girlfriend live on their boat at St. Tropez. During the summer, when slip fees reach the strastophere, they sail around the Med. They had just sailed up the Croatian/Dalmatian Coast and were sailing back down the Italian coast before returning to ST. We had a wonderful seafood dinner and wished each other buon viaggio.

hdm Aug 18th, 2007 11:08 AM

Not my own story, but my sister's.

She and my BIL were on a cruise (Mediterranean, I think) and it was dinner the first night -- 8 or ten people at the table. I don't recall that people introduced themselves by name but as it often does, the conversation got around to what kind of work people do. My sister said that she sold registered education plans and a woman at the table said, 'Oh, I'm quite interested in one of those plans.' In fact, a friend had just given her the name of a person who sold them. She rummaged around in her purse and pulled out a business card and handed it to my sister. Yup, you got it. She handed my sister her own card!

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