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Croatia, Food, Meandering thoughts

Table For One: Travelling Solo

Table for one – travelling solo

dining alone

The streets of the Old Walled City of Dubrovnik were packed as the dinner hour neared.  Cafes and restaurants fill their tables, laughter and the sounds of people on holidays fill the air, a global village emerges as languages I could not even begin to identify wafted through the soundwaves.  Groups and couples are everywhere – and then there is me!  Alone – table for 1 please.

I have travelled throughout the world, with friends, partners and family, on business…and once again, I find myself alone.  Not everyone is happy to wander the world solo, and at times it is not easy, especially as a single female, yet here I am, and I am loving it!

dinner by candlelight

Days are easy, filled with tours and activities.  I believe myself to be relatively easy going, and mix well with the other people I meet during the day.  This is never a problem.  The challenge is at dinner time, traditionally a time when people eat together.  Tables are set for pairs, candlelight flickering in the evening as the world appears to have transformed itself into the land of couples, friends and groups.  I navigate my way through the crowds, ducking up the alley until I find my restaurant – Wanda’s in the Old Walled City –  I had stumbled upon the restaurant earlier in the day and I looked forward to giving it a go.  I lucked out as I got the last outside patio table, candle light flickering, set for two.  The waiter comes over, somewhat hesitantly – I find this is often the way – checking to see if another will be joining me.  The spare wine glass is removed and a menu is placed in front of me.

solo travel

While I am very comfortable being on my own, I still find the experience of dining solo to be a little uncomfortable.  Silly really – why shouldn’t I enjoy a fine meal just because I am solo!  People are not staring, although I feel their eyes as they walk by.  I find sitting at the dinner table alone difficult – at lunch I would read a book or otherwise occupy my time.  Perhaps the dining experience may be faster at lunch, I am not sure.  The finer the dining, the more time between courses, and the longer I find myself feeling uncomfortable!  But I persist – I want to enjoy a nice meal, preferably of the local cuisine, and I look forward to dinner.

dining solo while travelling

Making friends at the dinner table

In Croatia, I find most restaurants serve a cover first – either a serving of bread with a pate, pesto or butter.  It fills the time between placing my order and the arrival of my food.  It is this down time that I find most difficult, sitting, waiting….I enjoy people watching, but at times even that becomes a challenge as I sit with a smile plastered on my face – waiting.  On occasion, another English speaking couple will sit at the table next to me, and we will exchange small talk…an interesting interlude during diner.  One of the aspects of solo travel I quite enjoy is the connections I make with so many different people.  I find I often learn something interesting and come away quite happy.  We often share travel information or what is amazing to do, or what other restaurants to try.

dining solo

How do you handle dining alone?  I have been known to order room service while on the road to avoid the solo table.  It took me a while to gain the confidence to eat alone, but as a pseudo foodie, I don’t want to miss out on the delicious dishes of the region, so off I go – table for one please!

Bon appétit!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

You are never alone on the Camino de Santiago

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About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!

Discussion

18 thoughts on “Table For One: Travelling Solo

  1. I’m with you on the “formal” dinner routine. A little intimidating. But what I love is (and this was especially true in Barcelona – after you left me!) is finding a table on the open air streets or a busy courtyard, and ordering wine and tapas. the busier the better – I always found lots of others to talk to at neghbouring tables. And during the day, when meeting other tourists, and if you get along, ask where they would recommend going for din., or what their plans are. They may say “why don’t you join us” . I was invited to lunch (and a terrific lunch, on Gracia) with a very nice American couple who, when I first ran into them, were SO lost, and typically, “arguing” over their map. I helped them find their way, and they subsequently invited me to join them. We had a good time; and they couldnt have been nicer, thanking me for saving their 30-year old marriage!. That’s why I love travelling alone – meeting others is so much easier if you are solo.

    Posted by travelerfriend123 | August 31, 2012, 9:50 am
    • So true – I enjoyed talking to neighbouring tables when I can.
      Now that I am on the Camino Trail – it is so different – so many are travelling alone and the pilgrims dinners are a fascinating opportunity to meet so many from so many different countries – loving meeting everyone!

      Posted by Anita Mac | September 3, 2012, 4:03 am
  2. I tend to eat dinner in cafes when I travel alone, but after reading this, I think it would be fun to try someplace nicer, especially if I could have this kind of great outdoor seating.

    Posted by Margaret | August 31, 2012, 11:18 am
  3. My other half also says that you meet more people when you are traveling alone, rather than in pairs or groups where you already have someone to talk to. And it’s true – if we travel together but split up for a while he will be chatting with someone else within minutes.
    I used to travel alone a lot for work, sometimes I would come across others in the same situation and have dinner with them but I always had a book with me to pass the time between courses in case there was no-one else around.

    Posted by Georgia | September 1, 2012, 6:15 am
    • You really do meet more people on your own, which can be loads of fun! I met tonnes of people on this trip, although I found I rarely ended up eating with them in the evening. I think, at times, part of it was that I was doing backpacker trips, but didn’t want to eat backpacker meals….I love the dining experience in the nicer cafes and restaurants. When I travelled solo for work, I often took a book. Not sure why I felt I shouldn’t on this trip – guess I wanted to soak it all in! In Prague, the custom is for people to fill the table if there are not enough seats. Even when travelling with my partner, we managed to meet some interesting people for this reason!

      Posted by Anita Mac | September 3, 2012, 9:21 am
  4. Just enjoy it and relax!
    We are all with you!You’re never alone!
    Cheers!

    Posted by aidaweb101 | September 2, 2012, 6:05 am
  5. I tend to find a restaurant with bat seating and off I go to an open bar stool. It is a great way to meet new people and if you happen to be the only at the bar its always a great time to get to know the bartender. (Everyone knows it pays off to get to know your bartender :-) ) Great post!

    Posted by f-stop mama | September 2, 2012, 5:03 pm
  6. When I was younger, I wanted to travel alone but I did not since the whole idea was too scary. Today, if I find myself in a restaurant alone, I enjoy the moment by people watching and sipping vino. I do like to have a book with me as a backup and because I enjoy reading.

    Posted by lboudreau21 | September 10, 2012, 7:50 pm
  7. I backpacked around the world for 7 months by myself and it is daunting to have meals day after day by yourself but as a book lover I just started reading at meal times. And I found it was easy to find people on the road who were also looking for company and I got to meet a whole bunch of interesting people that way.

    Posted by Ella Rychlewski | October 26, 2012, 1:01 pm
    • I hear you Ella – I am off to buy a new book now to hopefully last the next few nights! I recently finished walking the Camino de Santiago – it was amazing how easy it was to join other tables on that trip! People were always happy for one more….a great lesson in getting out of the comfort zone just a little. Made some great impromptu friends along the way. Ended up with dining buddies for days. Love how it is so easy to meet people when traveling.

      Posted by Anita Mac | October 27, 2012, 3:48 am
  8. Hi Anita, If I’m eating alone, I prefer casual or somewhere I can prop myself at the bar which gives me pole position to bore the staff senseless or ambush unsuspecting passers by. I also love outdoor places where I can people-watch to my heart’s content without interruption. I’ve not done fine dining or formal on my own but would probably find myself bum shifting if people stared. Have you tried winking at them when their partner isn’t looking? That should spice up the occasion and transfer the bum shifting to their table.

    Posted by Tracey | February 25, 2013, 9:21 pm
    • Love it! Haven’t done the winking thing, only smile, but how fun to play a little! Next solo dine out, watch out world!
      When I used to travel to the same town for work all the time, I got to know the one bar tender really well. He was great. If I looked bothered by a fellow patron, he would jump in, but if I was happy, he left us talk away! Getting to know the bartender was the best…some days I went just to catch up with him as a friendship had developed!

      Posted by Anita Mac | February 26, 2013, 8:45 am

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