Not a pleasant feeling! When I have to do this, I usually take a paper or a crossword to keep my mind from thinking, why am I here alone.
The Swiss have an easy answer for this dilemma. Their word for it is Stammtisch. It is a large table that seats maybe ten or so, and it is a communal table for singles.
Anyone can sit there upon request, if alone. You will find others at the table that are in same boat as you are – and of course conversation is sure to follow, especially if there is an American at the table.
I learned this from a TWA guidebook concerning Zurich. That kind of gives my age away, doesn’t it! The guide said among other things, you’ll never know who you might meet at the table – 100% correct.
One night when I sat down at the table, a Swiss man asked me how I happened to get there. I pulled out the guidebook which said, “You will never know who you might meet when you sit at the Stammtisch.”
Naturally, I had to ask him, whom am I meeting? It turned out he was a director and officer of the largest insurance company in Switzerland and maybe the world. We both enjoyed what turned out to be a good meal and a wonderful conversation.
You probably were wondering if there were women at the table. No, there were not. Maybe it’s a Swiss thing!
The next day I was walking on the banks of the Limmat in the old town, and didn’t I get a friendly wave and “HALLO” from across the street. Of course, it was the only person I knew in Switzerland, my dinner partner.
Being alone in Zurich for dinner wasn’t so bad after all!