Table For One
I remember once I was telling a couple of friends that I had forgotten my iPad at a restaurant in Copenhagen airport. It wasn’t the fact that I had forgotten my iPad and managed to retrieve it, that caused talk, it was the fact that I had had a nice pre-flight dinner on my own. They found it weird. Didn’t I think it was weird to sit alone with Salmon Balik and a glass of chardonnay? Nope. I travel often and eating alone comes with the territory.
Last month during a day of Christmas shopping, my mum and I had lunch together at a fabulous Italian restaurant in Zurich. The following day she had to go back into the shops, and she decided to go back to the restaurant on her own to have lunch. She told me how she made a point of not using her phone, she simply sat and observed, and she decided not to let the fact of her being alone bother her. This is the same woman that used to tell me sitting alone for dinner was one of the worst feelings, after sitting on her own every night while on a solo holiday in her twenties. However, she had thoroughly enjoyed her lunch in solidarity, paying attention to the decoration, waiters whizzing around, couples at tables separated by their phones, and other solo diners indulging in their mobile device as well. One of my friends recently celebrated her birthday and she proudly posted a picture of herself on Instagram at her favourite restaurant having lunch. She announced she had the waiter take a picture of her and she didn’t give “two f***k’s”. Bravo, I say.
Eating alone can be incredibly refreshing, but I feel it’s something few people do. It’s not exactly by choice that I go out and eat alone, it’s usually due to travelling alone. However, I usually enjoy it and I don’t see why I should deny myself a good meal just because I’m lacking company? I’ll admit, my solo eats take place in the airport, at the hotel’s restaurant or in small cafés I like. It’s not that I make reservations at nice restaurants and go on my own. No, I am aware that I am on my own, I thoroughly enjoy my own company, but I also don’t want to be so obviously alone. I also usually have my notebook with or my computer so that I can sit and work. However, after my mum’s solo trip to the restaurant in Zurich, I decided to do it myself during my trip this week to Copenhagen. I had dinner plans both days, so I decided to go for a nice lunch by myself. Usually, I’ll just go to a nice café, and I’m usually not the only one sitting alone and working. I feel it’s more noticeable if you’re alone, if you go to a nice restaurant. I decided to go to Ravage, a cute little restaurant where the waiters and waitresses are always really nice. “Do you have a table for one for lunch?” I asked. The waiter led me to a table where one side had a sofa running along the wall to seat other tables as well. Next to me was a young woman on her laptop, enjoying a cocktail and watching a lecture. I decided to sit on the sofa side so that I had a view of the restaurant. I still had my laptop and notebook with, but I made it a point to put it all away once my food arrived. Like my mum was for her lunch, I wanted to be as present as possible. As a result, I enjoyed every morsel of my meal and sip of the glass of chardonnay I chose. The lady next to me was eventually joined by a friend and I listened to their conversations about having kids, working at a hospital, conducting research and evaluating their friend’s boyfriend, who they were less than thrilled about. In front of me were two tables and both were occupied by men. One of the men at the table threw glances my way a few times, no doubt finding it strange that I wasn’t on my phone while I ate slowly. The other two men sat on their phones, not talking to each other. Both of the couples were tourists, and I guessed the men had probably had enough of each other, thus needing technology as a quick buffer.
The restaurant wasn’t busy, which I liked. I could hear my own thoughts and eventually I was in my habitual daydreaming phase. At one point I snapped out of my daydream and I was surprised by how unbothered I was by not having a distraction or potentially appearing a little strange. Taking the time to sit and eat a proper meal and enjoy my own company without the distraction of a phone, laptop, notebook or book was a really nice experience. When I’m travelling my days are often crammed with activities, and I think that scheduling a meal on my own, could be a nice breather, a way to recharge. Maybe I’ll make it a new trend for my future travels, to not just opt for the hotel restaurant, but actually make a reservation and go enjoy a culinary experience where I can sit and daydream for a little, without interruption.