Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It’s a Small World After All

How true that heading is. On my way back to Adelaide from Melbourne yesterday, I got talking to a man who was also travelling on his own. We chatted about travel – as one seems to do when one is travelling – and he mentioned visiting Philadelphia some time ago with his wife.

It seems that the bus they were travelling on was delayed on its way to Philly. When they got to the main bus station much later than anticipated, they found that the hotel they had booked to stay in was some “50 miles” out of town, and that the only way to get there was with an expensive taxi ride. Of course, they cancelled that booking, and asked the agent at the bus terminal in Philadelphia if he could recommend a local hotel.

The agent recommended the Comfort Inn. In fact, said he, “they have a courtesy bus which can come and pick you up”. So the bus was called for and away went this couple to the Hotel. The man and his wife were delighted to find they were placed in a room overlooking the Delaware River, with a great view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

What a coincidence.

This is the same Comfort Inn hotel I stayed in during my Philadelphia visit in 2010, during which I too had a room overlooking the river and the bridge. Of course, I mentioned this to my fellow passenger, and marvelled at the serendipitous nature of travel encounters.

At a subsequent stop (we were not sitting together), we started chatting again. This time we began talking about the bus ride up to that point, and agreed that next time either of us were making the same trip, we would look at catching the train instead of a bus. He mentioned that the train cost only a few dollars more anyway, and had the advantage of letting passengers walk through the carriages, giving them a chance to stretch their legs and move around more freely.

As we were chatting, the thought suddenly occurred to me that the train would pass through Mitcham station on its way into Mile End. Mitcham station is literally a couple of hundred metres from my current address, and I told him this, mentioning that I lived at Mitcham. Well, you could knock me down with a feather. Not only did this man and his wife also live in Mitcham many years ago, but he said, they “used to live in some flats opposite the Mitcham shops.”

“In Wemyss Avenue?” ask I.

“Yes,” says he.

Go ahead. Knock me down with a feather. Because my current address just happens to be one of those apartments in Wemyss Avenue.

I couldn’t believe it, and I’m not sure that he believed me, either. But there you have it. Two complete strangers swapping travel stories during a long bus trip between Melbourne and Adelaide, and we had both stayed in the same hotel in Philadelphia, and in the same apartment complex in Adelaide.

Of course, the dates and apartment/room numbers were different, but just the same – what are the odds of this happening?

It is indeed, a small world.

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