Readers share stories of travel coincidences half a world from home


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They say that travel broadens the mind. In a weird way, it can also shrink the world. I asked readers to share the small-world coincidences they encountered while on vacation.

In 2016, Luisa Girlando of Annapolis went on a three-week trip to Morocco. The travel guide for her group was a 32-year-old man from the Atlas Mountains who lived in Marrakesh.

“Two years later, in 2018, I was walking down the street in Copenhagen and I stopped dead in my tracks,” Luisa wrote. “There was my Moroccan tour guide! We stopped and chatted for a few minutes about the serendipity of seeing each other again thousands of miles away.”

In 1998, Catherine Barron and her husband, Earlye — both teachers — took their 16-year-old son, Michael, on a trip to Europe. By the time they got to Prague, Michael had had enough European restaurant food. He wanted pizza.

“The concierge at our hotel said the best pizza in Prague was in a little out-of-the-way place down a small walking street and into an even smaller street that came to a dead end,” wrote Catherine, who lives in Fredericksburg, Va. It was a challenge to find, but find it they did.

“However, before we even sat down, we were called by a voice we recognized — the voice of a fellow teacher,” Catherine wrote. “It turned out that he, his wife and 16-year-old daughter were also traveling, and the parents had heard the same request: pizza.”

In 1983, Alexandria’s Mary Goldwag and her husband, Ed, took a trip to China. While Mary was in the ladies room at Beijing’s Summer Palace, Ed chatted with another waiting husband.

“When both of us ladies emerged, and we all exchanged names, I discovered that the other lady was someone I knew,” Mary wrote.

It was her ninth-grade English teacher from Taft Junior High in Northeast D.C. “Since then, my teacher had graduated law school and become a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia,” Mary wrote. “She later became chief judge.”

In 1994, Norma and Burt Kirschner were traveling in Israel with their friends Gloria and Fred when something in a bookstore window caught Gloria’s eye.

“I want to read that book,” Gloria said, running into the store.

Wrote Norma: “We followed her in and Fred said ‘We have two more weeks here. Why carry that around? When we get back to Silver Spring you can buy it.’ ”

A male customer in the store whipped around and said “Silver Spring, Maryland? I just bought a house on Lamberton Drive.”

Norma said to Gloria: “Isn’t that where Jan and Len lived?”

It turned out the man had just bought their friends Jan and Len’s house.

In 1972, Jim Yenckel boarded a train in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, bound for Singapore.

“Tugging my backpack toward my seat I spotted a seated woman whose face seemed familiar,” wrote Jim, of the District.

Jim kept walking, then turned around for a second look. By then, the woman was on her feet.

“Jeem?” she queried. And then Jim knew.

“She was Valli, the secretary at the English language newspaper in Santiago, Chile, where I had worked eight years earlier,” he wrote. “I was always Jeem, not Jim, to her. Like me, she and her…



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