There I sat. Toes digging into the sand, the skirt of my dress still damp from the waves that had taken me by surprise earlier that day.
The sun sank lower and lower against the horizon as it slowly descended to the ocean and below.
I was hungry and I could smell food.
I was in the center of hundreds of tourists swirling around - conversations blending into a mass of sound.
The sound of people enjoying time together, yelling in excitement, kids squeals, lovers calm and kind tones, parents trying to keep their kids from running away in excitement and much more.
A saxophone played some classic jazz tunes in the background, hustling for the wrinkled dollar bills in the pockets of those who walked past.
It was sunset. Prime time for people to be out searching for food and the beautiful sunset views along the coastline.
I was in the right place to get dinner.
There were multiple restaurants merely steps from where I sat.
Yet something caused me to hesitate…
I was alone.
I was traveling alone. I was at the beach alone. I had spent the day mostly alone.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that traveling solo is difficult, rather it is quite the contrary - traveling by myself comes easily. I am not one to shy away from spending time or exploring new places by myself. In fact, I quite enjoy it.
However, in my past I’ve either traveled between hostels or traveled with other people. In the case of solo travel, hostels happen to be set up for solo travelers - with shared dining areas - making it easy to start conversation with other travelers or even the staff.
On this particular weekend, however I was not staying in a hostel and had no access to a common dining/kitchen set up. So I found myself in this specific situation.
Debating whether to venture into a normal restaurant alone.
While sitting there watching the sunset and debating whether I felt confident enough to venture in and eat at the bar alone in a packed restaurant I decided to google it.
Turns out, eating alone is not an uncommon insecurity or concern.
From what I found, many people struggle with it, and many people have had a variety of experiences while trying it on for size.
It turns out, restaurants are built for groups of people - or couples at least. Not those of us looking to grab a bite at a nice restaurant in a pretty setting, who happen to be alone.
And I happen to think this is rather unfortunate.
I enjoy pretty views and nice food as much as the next person and can only take so much cafe food and fast food before I want a “real meal” - which is what led me to this moment.
I could have walked back to my car and driven back into town to grab something from Subway or the local grocery store - but I was at the beach and I wanted to soak in the beautiful setting that was surrounding me - as well as the delicious chowder I had read about on Yelp. I wasn't about to just get up and step away because of this one problem.
So…what did I do?
I decided to venture in.
And after doing a full loop around the bar and noticing some other people grabbing food there - I decided to take the one available seat.
And you know what?
It was fine.
In fact, I met a few interesting people while sitting there enjoying my beer and chowder while watching the last rays of sunlight disappear over the ocean.
And, when I walked out, I felt accomplished.
Like I had done something outside of my comfort zone - and had succeeded.
Sure it felt awkward, especially when I decided not to stare at my cellphone the entire time. I consciously put the phone away and decided to just sit and enjoy and see what happened.
And what happened was great.
I enjoyed my delicious food, a yummy brew and some interesting company.
I walked out feeling accomplished.
So, if you ever find yourself on your own and feeling shy about going to a restaurant in a new city or even in your own city I would highly recommend that you take the step to try it - and have dinner at the bar - you never know what may happen.
Do you have any interesting stories of going to a restaurant alone? If so, share them!