Table for one – travelling solo
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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