Eating alone is one of the toughest things everybody should get used to when travelling alone. Usually no one has any problems when buying a sandwich and eating it alone while walking. But when the deal’s about seating down and eating alone in a restaurant, it’s usually more complicated. But don’t let it stop you! Tasting all the delicatessens from a new destination is one of the best parts of any trip I take.
My first time eating alone
I may have been around 17yo when I went to Rome with my Highschool. We all had tickets for the Capitoline Museums and my friends run through them without ever stopping to actually see anything, so… I decided for the first time to separate from them and re-visiting the museums at my own pace. Not sure about how long it would take, we arranged to meet again in the late afternoon. And… I never realized that would mean I had to eat on my own.
Once I left the museums, I wander for a bit through the centre of the city. And then I thought about whether buying a sad sandwich and seating on any bank park, or sit down on a restaurant and start eating alone. And then I saw her (yes, it’s a her). That masterpiece. An amazing pizza of coppa, roquette, gorgonzola and tomato souce. Oh the beauty. And of course, why eating a cold pizza out of a carton box when you can enjoy it right out of the oven? And so, I stayed and had lunch on my own for the first time. And oh dear how much I enjoyed it. After eating alone, I walked the beautiful streets of Rome for several hours until I met with my friends again. It was also the first time I did some hours in a foreing land on my own and … I guess I don’t need to say I loved it, right?
Eating along in a restaurant, what will other people think?
In reality, when you go to a restaurant and ask for a table for one, most of the times they won’t look funny at you, or think anything specially out of the ordinary. Even though many of us still think that we are a weird breed, the truth is that we are more common that we are aware of. But why don’t we notice when there’s someone else eating alone? Well, when people go to restaurants they are mostly focused on either eating or the people they are with. For that reason, it’s important you know something: the only person who cares is you. And probably that won’t even be for long.
How to get used to eating alone
Some times, for some people, eating alone feels weird the first time only. For others, it’s maybe necessary to go through it a couple of times, or practise it a few months. In any case, here are my tips to get better at it.
To start, it is always a good idea think about the type of restaurant you are going to select. If your main worry is feeling alone in a restaurant filled with couples, don’t go to a romantic cafeteria. If you think you will be missing your family, your parents, or your children, don’t go to a familiar place. Take as a standard goal to avoid whatever could make you feel unconfortable. Common table restaurants are always a safe choice.
The moment of the day when you are going to have lunch, or dinner, or whatever, it’s also something to take into account. If you are worried about being watched by everybody else, skip rush hour. You can go earlier or later, maybe it will match perfectly with your jet lag! Or maybe you don’t want to feel like you are the only person at the restaurant, so find a place with plenty of people and get comfy. In any case, again, think about what makes you feel comfortable and go with it.
Even though it may seem quite silly for some, the location within the restaurant is VERY important. After years of eating alone, I have come to realize that every time I seat outside the main zone of a restaurant, waitresses tend to overlook me. Some twisted mind may think that since their tip will be smaller they care less. But, I won’t be that mean and I will think that maybe that’s only because we occupy less space that people goes on without actually seing us. Let me tell you that trying to attract the server’s attention every time you want something can make the most comfortable person quite desperate.
To finish, nowadays we are so used to have distractions while having lunch or dinner, that eating alone can be somehow boring. In these cases, it is always a good idea to bring along a book, or some crosswords. Just a single distraction to have lunch in a more relaxed way. It helps a lot! In any case, try just for once to focus all your attention in every single bite you take, it can make the whole experience of eating just magnificent.
Do you have any other adive I should add? Do you enjoy of eating alone in a restaurant? Anything out of the ordinary has happened to you? Please, let me know all about it in the comments below!
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