10 Tips for Dining Solo while Travelling

Views from Table Mountain
Me standing on Table Mountain!

Eating alone isn’t so bad. The thought of eating alone is sometimes terrifying especially for solo travelers. What will people think and how can I eat out without someone to talk to or share a bottle of wine with? Throughout my years of travelling I have learnt a couple of different ways to overcome what for many travelers is the most unpleasant aspect of going it alone.

  1. Chat with the service people. Waiters and waitresses are some of the best sources to find out about the local city you are exploring. And it feels good when someone greets you with a smile the next time you go there, it helps make you feel a bit at home in a foreign country.
  2. A lot of guides include a section on the “Singles Scene” in many cities; you might not be out to meet someone special, but this should offer some options for socialing nonetheless.

 3. Cafe and outdoor dining is some of the most attractive places for single travelers. Sitting alone with a book in a cafe isn’t as unusual as a table for one at a fancy restaurant and its a great place to sit and people watch.

4. Choose a counter seat or a seat at the bar. Here you usually end up talking to the barman or to the other single diners who end up sitting at the counter.

5. Go to a restaurant that has booths, which offer more privacy. This way you can have a booth all to yourself where you can hide with a good book and your hot chocolate.

 

6. You might be tempted to live on fast food, just to avoid awkward restaurant situations. Don’t. In fact, fancy establishments are fantastic places to dine alone. Waiters are happy to help solo diners who smile and say, “I made a special trip just to eat here. What do you recommend?”

7. Bring reading materials. If you start to feel uneasy sitting alone and staring down at your food, you can crack open a book, whip out your Kindle or read a magazine. One hint: The more high-minded your pursuit appears, the more likely folks are either to ignore you, or to become intrigued and maybe say hello. If you sit there studying the local city guide you will be surprised how easily other travellers will come up to you and offer some advice.

8. If you don’t want to endure yet another meal alone, use room service. It’s often no more expensive than local restaurants and you can watch a movie while enjoying your dinner.

9. Eat well. Just because you’re alone and on the run doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time for sit-down meals. Enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee or a decadent dessert in one of the beautiful cafe’s of the city.

10. Seek out an ex-pat bar where you can hang out and speak your native tongue with some fellow expatriates and travelers. Here you will always be able to find a fellow solo traveller to share a meal with.

Do you have any other tips you would like to add?

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
Walking up Wale street I am greeted by the colorful houses of the Bo Kaap

The Bo-Kaap is definitely the most colorful part of Cape Town and a great place to explore. I think I wouldnt mind living in one of these brightly coloured houses either. This part of the city, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city center was formerly known as the Malay Quarter. They have a lovely view over the city especially at night.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
Looking back down the hill I just walked to get here

The colourful Bo-Kaap with its romantic cobble stoned streets is actually a multicultural area, very rich in history. Many of the residents are descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and various African countries, who were imported to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th centuries. The slaves were known as “Cape Malays” thus is Bo-Kaap still known today as the Cape Malay Quarter.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
I just love these Bright colours!!
The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
I just Love this neighbourhood

I followed Wale Street uphill from the Company Gardens until I got to the brightly painted Georgian terraces where wandering down the narrow cobbled streets is the best way to experience the area. I didnt realize that it was all up-hill to get there and the cobbled streets arent flat either. I learned the hard way that it would probably be a good idea to wear sneekers next time as my sandels caught in the cobbles and I tripped, nearly falling down on my face. 

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
I would love to live here!

These steep streets are all lined with colorful traditional houses, painted in vibrant colors. Not only do they look cheerful but the people who live here are also very friendly. As I walked around with my camera people were more than willing to talk to me and to tell me a bit about the area and the history. I was surprised to find out that the owners often change the colours of their brightly painted houses and what is today a bright pink might be a pale blue house next year.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
Each street I turn up is more colourful than the last

It surprised me that most of the people spoke Afrikaans until one of the ladies told me that the Afrikaans language was developed here in the Bo Kaap as a language for the slaves, as well as their masters, to be able to communicate effectively. Today Afrikaans is actually widely used in the Western Cape and the surrounding areas.

Many of the inhabitants of Bo-Kaap are descendants of the people from Indonesia (Batavia), Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia thus many were Mulims and others were converted to Islam by the Cape Muslim community. No wonder Afrikaans has so many words in common with Malaysian and other random languages. Even in Russian we have a couple of similar words which helped me a lot while living there.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
There are loads of tourists walking around Bo-Kaap

As a result of Cape Town’s economic development and expansion, and after the demise of forced racial segregation under apartheid, property in the Bo-Kaap has become very sought after. This is not only because of its location but also for its picturesque cobble-streets and unique architecture. While the majority of Bo-Kaap’s residents are still of Cape Malay origin, the housing boom in the past fifteen years has seen an influx of foreigners buying up the beautiful, quaint, historical homes of Bo-Kaap.

The Colourful Bo-Kaap of Cape Town
I was quite lucky to get shots without loads of people in them

But despite the apparent “gentrification” the residents say that they are still a very close knit community and not only help each other out but also work together to keep their neighbourhood safe. According to the residents the Bo-Kaap is one of the safest areas to live in Cape Town because they all look out for each other and they even have a neighbourhood watch to keep things orderly.