Thursday, September 17, 2009

now, where were we?

What was I writing about before getting so distracted...
Oh yeah, New York's Central Park.

I left my place in a snowstorm and arrived in New York in balmy 38F sunshine. Of course, I'd been working all night and it was mid afternoon when I got in the airport bus to take me to the hotel. I was meeting an old friend whom I hadn't seen in years. She was actually a friend of a friend I had met while travelling in Belgium in 1979. I met her when I went to visit him in Australia in 1989. We had kept up a Christmas card correspondence ever since. This trip had been planned for months and I was simply going to see her for a couple of days during one of her layovers on those extensive round the world things that Australians do so well.

New York is only an hours flight away, and after a delay of two hours which involved snow clearing and de-icing, I got to the hotel she had booked for us and was prepared to check in and grab a bite to eat and wander around to get a feel for where we were in Midtown before she got in from Peru sometime after midnight. Fine. Except there was no booking for me, or her, at this hotel. Nothing. No help. Never heard of her.

With a heavy heart, and a heavy extra sweater and boots (remember the snowstorm?), I wander up and down the streets asking at EVERY hotel I came across, and there were quite simply, no vacancies. Long story short, I call my friend who likes to help and knows NYC very well and after a couple more hours I get a hotel room and I crash into bed watching the news that Heath Ledger has died. My luxury room on 56th St is now a basic room on 97th St. It is under renovations and the room has no view, but has at least a comfortable bed.

The next morning I get some maps and plan out my two days of solitary touring. I decide to do Midtown and Central Park the first day then head down to Soho and the East Village the next day. I walked and walked and walked. It was still so very warm for a late January day, and clear and almost windless. It wasn't quite dark yet when I thought I'd get something to eat and watch the skaters at Rockefeller Center before heading up to the top for the night view (because by then I was too tired to walk to the Empire State Building). I walked down Fifth Avenue, taking architectural pictures of the very expensive shops instead of actually shopping in them when suddenly I hear someone call out my name. In a very distinctive Australian accent. I turn around, and there is Fiona. She was coming out of some shop about a block away and saw me and followed awhile to make sure. We had not seen each other in almost 20 years. It took me a few moments to bring my jaw back up off the pavement where it had fallen open in shock. I used to be amazed (and slightly unbelieving) at how that Seinfeld gang used to run into each other in such a huge city. Now folks, I am here to tell you it is possible. On the street. On Fifth Avenue. At 5pm. (the point being rush hour, not the coincidence of the fives).

Turns out, her travel agent screwed up the dates, so a frantic phone call to her back in Australia, and a few hours later, (remember Heath Ledger has just died, so rooms are still filling up) she gets a room booked. An upgrade to a suite in a very swanky hotel in Soho.

We had a much shorter visit.

And in the meantime, I fell in love with New York.


  1. WOW! That is some story! And quite believable to me. I think it's weird that when you go to some huge place like Disney World, for example, and you keep running into the same people over and over. After a day of this you feel as if you've known them forever!

    And on a slightly different note...geez girl, you have been around, haven't you? I'm impressed!

  2. I was once in the Netherlands, visiting from California, and I was in a department store in a town way up North when I ran into my mother's cousin who also happened to be visiting the Netherlands from California, without either one of us knowing this about each other. It's a small world after all.

  3. Great story! I have never had that type of experience, though I do constantly run into kids that I used to teach or their parents all over here (which is not at all the same,is it?). I have fallen in love with New York, however. I hope it loves me back.

  4. Quite the adventure to be sure. It has been a very long time since I've been in that area. I need to go again someday.

    Thanks for visiting my blog Violet!

  5. I love these traveling stories - I met someone from my teen years in Holland once in an airplane in the US! The same jaw dropping LOL

  6. What a story! I never have anything like that happen to me - no old school friends, long lost cousins, friends of friends of friends.

    My life is very boring! ;)

    Perhaps it would be different if I went to New York..........

  7. That is a seriously freaky cool story. I think it's something about larger cities and/or the people that live in or visit them that makes it easier to run into people. When I lived in Toronto I used to run into people I knew all the time -- both people that lived there and people that were just visiting. In the 2+ years I've lived in Ottawa, I've never ever run into someone I know. And in the 9 years I lived in Halifax I can count on one hand the number of times I ran into someone I knew. Someone ought to do a study maybe.

  8. Interesting story. It is funny how we run into people. I was sitting on a beach in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands and someone I used to work with walks by.

  9. Susan: I am a seasoned traveller.

    Nora: hope your trip wasn't a secret!

    Pinklea: I have to return to test this love...

    Sistertex: I vowed I would make an annual trip - so I'd better hurry!

  10. Jeannette: so it pays to look around you- you never know who might pop up!

    Gilly: come to NYC and I'll run into you!

    XUP: it was seriously freaky cool. I still can't believe it. It is strange that running into people thing, because I never run into anyone in my small city either.

    Berni: out of all the islands...

  11. Running into people in unexpected places has happened to me several makes the world seem so much smaller! Love your description of your trip...and did you get an upgrade to the swanky hotel in Soho or just your friend?...

  12. Oliag: no I didn't, sadly. she bought tix to a Broadway play when she thought we'd not meet up, so we had a quick dinner, then lunch the next day and a short wander around before she headed back to the airport.

  13. That's really odd. On that road trip that my daughter and I took in August she ran into a man she used to work with (here in Texas) at a roadside rest stop in Tennessee. I thought that was bizarre, too.

    I also love NY and plan to spend my 50th birthday there. I'm probably the only 48-year-old that can't wait to turn 50!

  14. Geewits: well, if you're planning on spending it in NYC, then no wonder you can't wait! (actually, I had no problems turning 50 either, I'm looking forward to 55 when I can start getting in on some of those seniors' activities and discounts!)


Glad you stopped by. For anyone who stumbled here, don't be shy to say 'hi' and let me know you've visited!