I as sorting through my books the other day and I came across an old philosophy textbook. When I saw what was scrawled on the back, it brought back a flood of memories. It was almost the end of my final year at Cambridge and a friend had told me I ought to hear his ethics professor give his year-end lecture. I accidentally walked into the wrong hall and was stunned by the sight of the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. (In those days this happened on a weekly basis.) She was the lecturer. I couldn't understand a word of the lecture, partly because I had never gone in for the hard sciences and partly because I was dazzled by her looks. I left as soon as I decently could but the whole time I felt as if my eyes were waving about on stalks like a slug.

That would have been that if I hadn't run into her at dinner that night in a rather decentish pub some ways off campus. She was at the next table and giggled - all right, snorted is more accurate - when she saw me sit down. We started talking and I was doing my best to get one thing to lead to another when she told me she had to get back to her flat to pack. She was leaving for vacation the next day. I offered to help but she said she couldn't be seen with a student in town. She was friendly, more than half flirting, but adamant. As she got on her bus I pointed out that I was only going to be a student for a few more days.

"Not in town," she said. "But maybe if you ran into me at the Hyatt..."

"Which Hyatt?" I had no idea where she was vacationing.

She appeared to reconsider. "I really shouldn't. You're nice, but I can't." She got on the bus. That, I thought, was that. Then I heard a rapping. She was knocking on the bus window. I looked up. She said something but we couldn't hear each other through the glass. Then she held up two fingers. She was signaling numbers. I grabbed a pen and wrote them on the back of my textbook: 297-2858. At least that's what I put because I thought it was her phone number. As I recall, she seemed to be giving me the digits in twos and ones the way some Europeans do but the final didn't work with any exchange I could think of. It's not a postal code. As latitude and longitude it's out in the Egyptian desert nowhere near a Hyatt. What on earth was she trying to tell me? From the look on her face I'm sure it had something to do with her vacation plans.

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    $\begingroup$ Is the hyphen part of it, or for ease of reading? Out of interest, how could she have signalled that hypen if it's part of it (or at least, how could you be sure it was a hypen)? $\endgroup$ – Shuri2060 Mar 24 '16 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe ya girl's a bahai $\endgroup$ – question_asker Mar 24 '16 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ I love the title of this puzzle. Well done. $\endgroup$ – Khale_Kitha Mar 24 '16 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ @QuestionAsker The hyphen is not part of it. The idea is that it was written down on the book that way because he thought it was a phone number. I'll see if I can make it clearer. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Mar 24 '16 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I had a clarity issue with "The numbers on the back of my textbook" Since it wasn't a sentence, it's hard to figure out the correct context. $\endgroup$ – Khale_Kitha Mar 24 '16 at 5:10


Answer which is correct:

"See you in Nice"

From the comments above, I have reason to believe that she teaches Chemistry where the periodic table can be used to convert numbers to letters. She also messages in twos and ones.

29 is Cu and 7 is N. When said, this sounds like "See you" and "in",

28 is Ni and 58 is Ce which makes Nice.

To check, I did find out that there was a Hyatt in Nice (using google maps)

Previous Answer (which is half correct):

I think this means she is going to Nice on the 29th July.

This is because 297 refers to the 29/7 which is a date (as she was signalling the numbers in ones and twos) and this date also would make sense for a vacationing date (and since Summer is when the end of year is).

From the comments above, I have reason to believe that she teaches Chemistry where the periodic table can be used to convert numbers to letters. 28 is Ni and 58 is Ce which makes Nice.

To check, I did find out that there was a Hyatt in Nice (using google maps)


In response to the below comment, I couldn't really figure out what 297 is using the periodic table. However, trying 29, 7 which is Cu and N, perhaps it sounds like "See you in" which would make the whole message: "See you in Nice"

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  • $\begingroup$ He knows she is leaving tomorrow. What if you applied exactly the same reasoning to the first three digits as you did to the last four? $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Mar 24 '16 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ How's this? I'll edit it to the top if it's correct. $\endgroup$ – Shuri2060 Mar 24 '16 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ Absolutely correct. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Mar 24 '16 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ @question_asker thanks for the idea of spotting her subject. I wouldn't have solved it if not for that. That being said, I would say that she must've been a genius in her subject (knowing that from the top of her head), and also must've thought you would've been able to crack that message... which I would say is not improbable, but still... $\endgroup$ – Shuri2060 Mar 24 '16 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ @QuestionAsker (lol) Here I was thinking the subject was unimportant, since it wasn't in the original post! Nice (haha) work, though! $\endgroup$ – question_asker Mar 24 '16 at 14:43

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