Dining Solo

A young and very attractive lady was dining alone on a cruise.
It had been noted that she often dined alone and one night a waiter approached her whilst she was sitting at her dining table. He had a note from the captain requesting that she join him for dinner that night.
Her eyes swept the note and she delicately folded it up and handed it back to the waiter.
He looked at her expecting an answer and she tossed a reply over her shoulder;
‘Please inform the Captain that I do not intend to dine with any of the hired help
for the duration of this voyage!’


Breakfast alone at the Hans Brinker in Amsterdam
Dining alone is a dreaded thing for some people. The thought of looking lonely or friendless worries us on some deeper level and most people will never have dined out solo before because of it.
Often there is no need to, at home there is almost always a friend or family around to check out a new restaurant with you or the sole reason for dining out is to be catching up with friends. When you travel it is different, you are often dining alone from necessity. Solo travelers may be a hardier breed, used to their own company and happy being the odd one out in a crowd, but it can still be an uncomfortable experience when done wrong. It can also be a great experience if done right. In my travels I have eaten alone breakfast, lunch and dinner and had many great and memorable meals alone, and not memorable because they were unnerving! For future solo travelers, or for those wanting to step outside their comfort zone, here are a few tips.
·         Start with having breakfast alone. The morning is a time when you will find many people grabbing breakfast by themselves no matter what city you go to. You are almost expected to be quiet and introverted, poring over a newspaper as you savor a coffee and croissant. Cafés are also easier to be solo in than restaurants, they have more booths, armchairs and small tables for one person to claim as your own.
·         Choose your restaurant wisely. When you are dining alone you get to choose exactly what you want to eat, no compromises needed. So search for the Mexican you are craving, google where the best sushi in this town is, pound that pavement until the restaurant with just the right décor calls out to you begging you to come in. Start your meal with being happy with your location choice.
·         Don’t be introverted! Sure you are alone and may spend most of the meal inside your own head but you don’t need to be like that the whole time. Start by being friendly with the waiters. Tell them you only need a table for one and don’t feel the need to justify it. Then have a chat, ask for their recommendation off the menu, enquire about words you don’t recognize, ask them to surprise you. If others in the restaurant catch your eye, smile at them, you are there by choice, enjoy your choice.
·         Choose your seat wisely. I like to sit outside if possible because the life on the pavement will give you an endless supply of entertainment. I was once lucky enough to get a table at a tapas restaurant in Barcelona that was next to where they were filming a movie. The flurry of camera crew, machinery and actors was something everyone was watching, not just me!  If there is entertainment inside, you could try to sit near that, or failing these I look for somewhere out of the way enough that I won’t look like I am sitting in the middle of a restaurant alone but in view enough that I won’t be forgotten about by the waiters.
·         Bring entertainment. Whilst I think it is best if you are able to entertain yourself enough by people watching or listening to the music, it is not always the case. A book or a notepad for writing are my distractions of choice. I feel rude on my phone, to the point where I don’t even like to read an E-Book!
·         Enjoy your meal. So often we go out to eat and are too busy talking to really taste what we are eating. Take eating alone as an opportunity to experience your meal to the full. Savor every bite, ask the waiter what it is that you are tasting and pass on your compliments to the chef.
Some of my dining alone experiences have been my favorites. Sitting in the middle of a buzzing city observing it with no distractions is a great way to get under its skin. Ordering off a menu is a great way to practice the language. And if you are solo and flaunting it, maybe you will meet someone else doing just the same.
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