In a crowded city, the same people – and outfits – appear over and over



I am constantly amazed at how small the world is. Let me give you two examples. On our recent vacation trip to Portugal, I spotted a woman in a cute dress that I thought my lovely wife might like. It featured an angular green pattern on a white background.

I didn’t give it much thought until I spotted a second woman in the same design. When I saw a third woman in the same dress, I finally pointed it out to my wife Ruth.

“I saw three women wearing the same dress,” I said.

“I bet it’s at Zara,” said Ruth, who is no stranger to the world of shopping. She did a quick web search and found it: green dress with lapel collar and geometric print. Soon spotting that dress on our vacation became a game. We saw it Seven times.

Ruth eventually bought one for herself. It will remind us of Portugal more than the bottles of port and tins of sardines we came back with.

Another coincidence: we took the train from Lisbon to Porto and back. On one such trip, we met a striking Portuguese woman. She looked like she was from the 70s, dressed up, fashionably dressed and sporting a hairstyle that I would describe as geometric. It was Bauhaus-cut hair: angular, severe, jet-black with a bit of raspberry-dyed topknot.

She was not an easily forgotten woman, which is why Ruth and I nearly fell out of our chairs a few days later when she walked right past us. We were sitting outside a cafe after getting off a tram in a non-touristy part of Lisbon. What are the chances?

It is said that there are 8 billion people in the world. There must be more dresses. And yet, we saw the same random woman twice and the same random dress multiple times.

What unusual coincidences have you experienced on vacation? Send me the details – with “Travel Quirk” in the subject line – at [email protected]

Today marks the final chapter of my week of exploring holiday reading habits. I was delighted with the response from all readers. I learned that people put a lot of thought into choosing the right book(s) for their travels. These people include Sandra Meyerswho is her family’s librarian, the person responsible for bringing a stack of books to the beach every summer.

“I provide reading material for my mother, my adult daughter and my two best friends,” wrote Sandra, who lives in Bethany Beach, Del. “If you were to go through my pile, most would be bestsellers by well-known authors who write women fiction, and most would have an umbrella, an Adirondack chair, a lake, or an ocean on the cover. I put them in the beachfront rental library and I say help yourself – a tradition that is at least 20 years old. Nothing better!”

Sandy Harbanouk researches a place before visiting it, reading both non-fiction and novels, and studying maps of his destination. As for the books she brings on the trip itself, she has a proven routine.

“I live in Alaska and try never to travel for less than three weeks,” wrote Sandy, who lives in Juneau. “As an avid reader, I pack three books a week, plus one for outbound and inbound flights…I’m quite picky about my selections, so I try to bring enough with me.”

Sandy mostly reads non-fiction at home, so she travels with fiction: “I take a mix of brain candy, books that I’m going to treat like a box of truffles and just go through without them. pose, and dense books that will keep me going for a while. A few days. When traveling, I read them in order from largest/heaviest to thinnest/lightest.

At Dottie Kraft’s travel has slowed considerably. She and her husband John, are in their eighties and don’t move around as much as they used to. But there was a time, writes Dottie, when “the books I carried with me were more important than the clothes I carried. In every city/country we visited, stopping at a bookstore and library was at the top of my places to visit.”

The shelves of their Reston home are full of books they have purchased during their various travels. Dottie wrote: “We no longer travel, but I can pull a book off these shelves and return to these places and the memories this journey has created. I read vicariously and remember the many trips we took.


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