Depending on the Kindness of Strangers

The New York Times is chronicling the travels of journalist Matt Gross, who has undertaken a trip around the world — but frugally.  This week, Gross finds himself in the isolated village of Galicia in Spain, and has been taken under the wing of a kindly man named Miguel, who has offered to show him the sights.

I found this article interesting, since Gross is traveling on a budget — as such, he’s been relying on a network of the friends of friends to find his way through the world.  As it turns out, Miguel is the cousin of a friend of a friend — and because of this connection, Gross finds himself overwhelmed by the hospitality he receives, not to mention a view of the village from a local’s perspective.

His story reminded me of a trip I made years ago to Barcelona:  when my friend Galvin learned I was going, he got me in touch with a friend of his, Fernando.  It turned out Fernando was Galvin’s students when Galvin spent a year in the region teaching English.  I couldn’t have had a better host in Fernando, who allowed me to accompany him to this tiny local bar in the heart of Barcelona, where I hung out with all his friends for about 5 or 6 hours.  A completely memorable day.

How about you?  Have you depended on the kindness of friends of friends in your travels?