It occurred to me a while back that the most prized thing for any traveller in a new town is a friend. If you are lucky enough to have one already, or at least have a contact name so that you can make a new friend (as has been the case for many of the places we've visited), then great - but that's not always going to be the case. Another great way to make friends is through Bookcrossing - we met Anne, Liz, Barbara, Aoife at the Wellington Bookcrossers meeting. And if you're very lucky indeed you'll come across gems like Di in Wellington.
But people like Di are a rare breed. There are many like her who feel a solidarity with strangers who are traveling (very often, they are travellers themselves), but there are very few indeed who would act on it spontaneously as she did. I wonder if there isn't some way of making it easier.
If you are reading this blog entry, and consider yourself the kind of person who likes to meet new people, show them the ropes in a new town, and swap travel stories over a coffee, let me know by commenting or emailing (brendan dot lawlor at gmail dot com). It's possible that there's a niche out there for a web-based service to exchange contact details between travellers to, and residents of, various cities around the world. When we get back to Ireland, I'd like to think that we could help somebody traveling there to orientate themselves, especially if they are in a similar situation to our one now (i.e. travelling with kids). Maybe you think the same way?
I know that Couchsurfing has an option to just offer a coffee rather than a place to stay, but the name and idea behind that site probably scare off most of my age. Dopplr has a "Who lives in this city" tab but doesn't allow you to meet anyone you don't already know. Perhaps there's something already out there that can do this - let me know if you have found it. I'd love to use it!