July 8th 2018
Today I flew back to Berlin for work. We were here last month (I think) for a couple of days, but now I’m back for the entire week, and this time I’m by myself.
As much as I love my own company, the fact that I’m here alone brings with it a very specific challenge:
I’m not usually the kind of person who is comfortable eating in a restaurant by myself. I don’t know why, I’ve just never liked it. Maybe it stems back to when I worked in a restaurant next to the cinema, and I’d serve people who had come in alone before going to the cinema alone, and that made me feel a bit sad.
So maybe that’s why. Whatever it is, it’s a struggle for me. And I’ve got to do it every night for the next five nights.
Tonight, I arrived at the hotel pretty late so the temptation was to either grab something to eat at the hotel bar, or go out and grab a kebab or something. But, I resisted the easy options and went out to explore the local area.
I’m always amazed at how Berlin, one of Germany’s biggest cities, is always so quiet. There’s no cars on the road or people on the streets. It’s a stark difference to other large cities like London.
I walked around some side streets looking for somewhere to eat. There was one particularly lively place, full of people and music, that looked like it would be good. As a general rule of thumb, if there’s a lot of people in the restaurant then it’s bound to be good food. But, because I was by myself I was put off by the crowds. So I moved on.
Further down the road was a curry house that was deserted. Much more my kind of scene. I sat down with the place to myself and ordered from the German-only menu. Usually I try to mix it up every time I go to a curry house, but my lack of menu-comprehension forced me to play safe.
Safe, as it turned out, was still pretty good.
While sat there I realised that the hard part of eating alone is entertaining yourself whilst you’re waiting for the food to arrive. My phone was dead and I hadn’t brought a book with me to the restaurant, so I had nothing but my thoughts to occupy me. Well, my thoughts and a German-only newspaper that I struggled to comprehend just as much as I did the menu.
It was surprisingly peaceful, though… just sat there.
Until tomorrow, maybe that peacefulness is what people are looking for when they eat alone.