I have been travelling for work a bit more lately and as a result, I have also been relying on restaurants for meals.
In the early years, I wouldn’t really go to a restaurant unless I was with another colleague or friend, who also happened to be in the same city at the same time. When I was travelling alone in the past, I would typically order take-out from somewhere nearby or order room service at the hotel. And as you can imagine, this has become rather tiresome.
Don’t get me wrong (I may have said this before) one of my favourite things to do in a new city, especially a city overseas, is to order room service. You never know what you might get.
This might sound like a strange thing to say, but more often than not when I order room service in a foreign country, I don’t get exactly what I asked for, which is often part of the fun. Once in Paris, I asked for two empty wine glasses and when it eventually came I was presented with a plate of smoked salmon instead, probably about 100 Euros worth. Naturally I sent it back straight away.
But the novelty of room service has gone off a little, especially when travelling domestically and for business.
And during my last trip, I ventured to eat out, by myself. I have never really considered the possibility of going to a restaurant alone, never really been game enough to do it. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and if I was being honest, I was one room service meal away from throwing the lovely club sandwich or salmon platter at the mini bar.
So on this occasion, my first solo meal was at an Irish pub and my second, a bit more adventurous – at a popular steakhouse.
At first, it was a little awkward.
I encountered a few stares, which can be characterised into three types:
The pretend-not-to-notice-stare, which came from the hostess, the waiter, and the person who sat at the table next to me. Generally, as soon as I made eye contact, they would look away, going about their business as if they hadn’t noticed anything.
Then there was the pity stare from people who had a similar expression to what you would expect to have when watching Sophie make her choice on screen.
And then there was the creepy stare from a person who no doubt found himself alone in restaurants all the time.
It was pretty much awkward the entire time.
But I ate and I played on my phone and I ate some more, until I eventually finished and left the restaurant to start the walk back to my hotel.
And it didn’t put me off in the slightest.
No, really it did.
But I’d better get used to it. I might be doing it again next time.