After reading in the Guardian about Vicky Baker touring South America with the help of contacts she had made through social networking websites, I decided I’d try a little experiment of my own. I signed up for one of the websites mentioned, Hospitality Club and it was all pretty painless. To my surprise I quickly received a request from a Spanish member who wanted to visit Bristol, but although I offered him advice, we were unable to offer him accomodation as we had family staying. He mailed me later to say that he’d found someone else to host him and had a great weekend in Bristol over Easter.
For this visit to Valencia I decided I’d make use of the opportunity and e-mailed Angel, a contact I’d spotted on the Hospitality Club website, a couple of weeks before we were due to leave. For a week I didn’t hear anything and was on the point of forgetting the idea when Bingo! he mailed me back. He’d be happy to meet us, he wrote, and offered several suggestions on things to do in Valencia. Several e-mails later, we’d arranged to meet at our hostel this morning.
We found a neighbourhood coffee shop to sit down for a chat and he suggested that as the sun was shining, we might like to hire bikes and ride along the Turia gardens together and end at the beach. We’ve had a great time today doing just that and he has certainly lived up his name as our guardian Angel, guiding us to suitable restaurants for lunch and even delivering us safely to the next hotel in his car. He’s something of a traveller himself, was recently in Brazil and Morocco and is now planning a visit to Thailand before the year end. He has used Hospitality Club to help research his trips, and although he has given tips by e-mail to other members, we were the first he had met in person. So a big thank you to Angel for starting us off on the right foot in Valencia. So far the social networking has been a great success.
You can see my collection of Valencia photos on my Flickr site here.