Often on vacation, we find a bit of home


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In 1971, Sheila Yuter and her husband were at the Prado in Madrid, where the only English-speaking tour available was to the museum’s gallery of tapestries.

“At each parade, a woman in the group with a heavy Italian accent kept repeating, ‘Incredible, incrediblewrote Sheila, from Potomac. “Several years later we were at Palazzo Pitti in Florence and just as we were entering we heard someone coming up the stairs saying, ‘Incredible, amazing.’ Indeed, it was the same woman!

We’ll call this anonymous Italian tourist St. Coincidenta, the patron saint of holiday coincidence. As we have seen in my column all this week, Saint Coincidental spreads her benevolent presence everywhere.

Julie Bohaska was browsing stores in St. Michaels, Maryland, when she noticed a woman repeatedly calling her young son’s name.

“He was never far or out of sight, but still, every few minutes came the cries of, ‘Lucas! Lucas! Looooocaas!‘” wrote Julie, who lives in Catonsville, MD. “It got really boring fast! Everywhere I went, there was her and Lucas, she loudly shouted his name. I thought it was weird enough to tell my husband about it when I got home.

“A few days later, I was on the boardwalk in Ocean City, and what do you suppose I heard?” Yeah! Looooocaaaaaas!

Years ago, Arlington Jennifer Musser walked through Miami airport with his brother and talked about how many celebrities had used it.

“We looked around and, of course, we saw Dan Marin and family at a check-in counter,” Jennifer wrote. “The following week we were driving back to the Miami airport and talking about how we had seen Dan Marino. A couple behind us on the moving walkway overheard and thought it was very interesting. I looked at the moving sidewalk opposite and there was still Dan Marino!

What’s better than being able to conjure up a Dolphins quarterback at will? maybe what Monica Nelson and his sister accomplished during their trip to Europe in the late 1970s.

“We visited all the major sites, as this was our first trip to Europe,” wrote Monica, from Fairfax. “We spied [actress] John Stapleton in three different cities: Paris, Florence and Rome. I don’t remember if we spotted her at Octoberfest – I don’t remember much about that experience!”

When Catherine Henry and her husband, Dougboarded a flight to St. Louis, they found their seats already occupied.

“When the flight attendant checked, the couple sitting there also had boarding passes for those seats – and their names were also Cathy and Doug Henry,” wrote Cathy, from Annandale. “The stewardess determined that the other couple actually had different seats reserved for the plane’s final destination in Denver.”

They thought the confusion was over – until they tried to claim their bag in St. Louis. The last suitcase on the carousel was for the other Cathy Henry.

“We picked up our bag from Denver the next day,” our Cathy wrote.

On Mike and At Leigh Sneed’s first trip to Ireland in 1999, they stayed in a B&B in a tiny village in County Clare called Doolin. “The day we were leaving I saw a man check in and did a double take,” wrote Leigh, from Reston. “We had the same Vermont t-shirts! I still have this shirt.

In July 2015, Arlington’s Susan Vincent was on a bus to a trail in Kleinwalsertal, a beautiful valley in Austria. “On the bus I saw a woman standing in the aisle whose haircut I loved,” she wrote. “I thought my thick, straight hair would look great in the same style.”

Susan was still thinking about the woman’s hair a few days later when she got on the bus for another ride.

Susan wrote: “This time she was sitting in the row in front of us! I asked my husband to pretend he was taking a selfie of the two of us, but instead he took a picture of the back of his head. I still have the picture and now I have his haircut!

On a very hot day in 1995, Matt Pettigrew and her sister, Anna, were birdwatching along a desolate dirt road in the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona when their rental car suffered a flat tire. With no spare in the trunk, Matt started walking towards a village they had passed through a few miles earlier.

Matt was halfway up the mountain when a driver pulled over. “He drove me to the village, where I found a phone and called for help,” wrote Matt, from Merchantville, NJ. “He then drove back to make sure my sister was okay.”

Four years later, Matt was birdwatching alone on a remote trail in the Adirondacks when he stopped to chat with another birder. Matt wrote, “It only took us a few minutes to realize we had briefly met before on a mountain road in Arizona.”

Rick Laub, of Okemos, Michigan, says similar things have happened to him, including meeting a friend of a friend while skiing in Austria. He doesn’t think they are that surprising.

“That’s my small world theory,” Rick wrote. “People from the same socio-economic groups tend to attend the same colleges, visit the same museums, restaurants and cafes. They sit in the same sections of planes and trains. No matter what city you visit, you will gravitate to these same places and activities.”

Tomorrow: We gravitate towards more of the same places.

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