Now I’m sure we’ve all been there, sitting with family, friends or a partner over dinner when we notice an individual dining alone, you give a nod of the head in the direction of the ‘single’ person and then a quick whisper regarding their ‘unfortunate situation’, sound familiar? But what if that ‘poor person’ is you?
Back home I would never go out and dine alone but when you travel solo it comes part and parcel of the whole package and it comes with its own trials and tribulations.
I can remember my first dinner alone back in 2011 living in Brazil while my partner at the time was away for a few days with work in Argentina, I put on my brave pants and dined alone in the Renaissance Hotel restaurant where we were staying. I was so self conscious and embarrassed by the whole thing, worried what others thought that I vowed after that to stick to room service and never to repeat the exercise again!
It was some 4 years later when I embarked on my first solo trip to Berlin that I was to face dining alone again. Since then I’ve become accustomed to the whole affair and where I won’t lie and say I’m 100% comfortable with it, it’s definitely something I can deal with.
There are the waiters that feel it necessary to accelerate you through your whole dinner experience and ship you back out the door as quickly as possible. It’s as if they think they are doing you a favour and saving you from the debacle of dining alone.
There are the waiters that wish to sit you on the two table in the middle of the room like an ornament for all to look at. Of course I politely decline and ask for the table with my back to the wall so I can at least observe the watchers.
More often than not it is the waitresses that for some reason instantly feel they are better than you and feel they can suddenly be a little bit snooty.
Some waiters become extra friendly and attentive (I’m not talking flirtatious we’ll come on to that!) and want to make your experience a good one. To them I am thankful!
Then we have the flirtatious waiters that think it’s game on, ply you with free alcohol and drop hints through out dinner about what time their shift finishes. Well of course you are single in Rome and must be in search of romance! No?!
And what about the other diners and their no doubt awful presumptions about you? You’re travelling alone so you must be single right? You can see the whispers, normally from the couples but less so the groups. They’ve just decided why you’re single and alone without knowing an ounce of info about you. Their quick glances that you aren’t meant to notice that just shout out ‘you poor unfortunate soul’, which makes me want to yell out “hey I’m here by choice don’t judge me”!
Only last week I was enjoying my lunch in Budapest when a couple (fellow Brits) were seated straight in front of me. The guy (good looking) stole a few glances my way and smiled, naturally being the polite English girl that I am I smiled back only to get glared at by the girlfriend – I’m sure she just branded me the “husband stealer”!
Now I’m sure the trick is to care a little less about what people think but we all know this is easier said than done. So before my next solo trip I’m going to work on growing my skin a little thicker and perfect my ‘hello smile’ so it doesn’t get confused with my ‘come and get me smile’!
Any other tips are most welcome…