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Jul. 19 2010 - 1:12 am | 34 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Right Place, Right Time — The Joy of Travel Serendipity

People watch a fireworks display to celebrat t...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via @daylife


As readers of this blog know, I am crazy for car design and happened to be in Victoria, BC this week, just in time for the three days of an event that only happens every three years, and in the summer, on this, my first summer visit.

Nine hundred (!) vintage cars came from all across North America, and were parked downtown at the harbor where 50,000 people — including me — stopped by to admire them. Free.

I saw a 1927 Ford Model T. A 1941 Graham Hollywood, a car and make I had never before heard of. Dozens of 1932 models. One was gloriously un-restored, a car I dream of owning — a dark blue 1949 Ford pickup truck. It was a riot of curves and chrome and rumble seats and running boards. I was in automotive heaven.

Not to mention the hallucinatory effect of seeing so many of these amazing vehicles driven through the city’s streets along with the econo-boxes and tour buses and city buses.

Before I came out here, I emailed a writer who lives here, a woman I have never met, but who, as I do, loves to sail; she generously took me to lunch at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (where my parents were once members, early in their marriage.)

My final night of vacation, splurging to stay at the Sylvia Hotel (where, it turns out, my maternal grandmother lived for years), turns out to be the first night of Vancouver’s annual four-week fireworks display, one a week. I’ll be right on the beach where the fireworks are happening. I had no idea.

I love this sort of dumb luck. I love to travel but am not one to book tickets to something years or months or even weeks in advance. I like to stumble into discoveries when I’ve already arrived somewhere.

What’s been your most serendipitous travel experience?


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    The first time I went to Europe — summer of 1991, boy am I getting old — even that was 20 years ago! I honestly never thought I would ever get to go to Europe and my first trip there was to Paris. I loved it, from the ‘lady of the evening’ just up the street from the hotel we stayed in who refused to look at me until the last day and then she smiled at me to the young man in Ste Michel who sang ‘The Barber of Seville.’
    My first meal in Paris was a pizza; my last was one of those wonderful baguettes with Laughing Cow chesse, nectarines (it was August and they were wonnnnderful; or maybe it was just because of where I was eating them), brie and proscuitto. We ate this feast in the courtyard of the hotel where we stayed.
    I loved the Louvre, but my favorite was the Musee D’Orsay. We didn’t go with a tour group so we were free to see what we wanted on our own schedule. We had some wonderful meals; and some not so wonderful, but that’s all part of the experience and learning how to pick the places you eat.
    I’ve been back to Paris again, but nothing is ever quite so exciting as the first time.

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    I cry with relief I’ve made it back when I return to Paris I love it so much. Glad you discovered its pleasures as well!

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