Advice for the Solo Traveler: Take a Seat at the Bar

I have some advice for solo travelers. Visit a restaurant with a long bar and sit near a corner. Last night I took this advice and walked many blocks of the center city to find The Sonoma Grille, a large, airy place on Penn Avenue. As is my custom, I found a seat at the bar and then after a while left to wash my hands. This place is owned by a chef named Yves who was born in Lyon. Sounds good.

When I returned, sitting right next to me was a young lady studying a menu. Like me, it was dinner for one. I began reading the local free newsweekly, The City Paper, as she looked over the long wine list.

Here’s the tricky part. You’ve gotta think of something relevant, yet not creepy, to throw out to start a dialogue. I pointed to the long list of condiments and advised her that I asked them to bring me all five. That began an interesting evening of conversation. She was in ‘burgh to teach software to her banking colleagues, she had come from Kansas City.

She loves to travel and last year found a wonderful experience traveling to Western Canada with Footloose, a group that puts single travelers together. She explained that it was hard to find somebody to go with you, but at the end of this 15-day journey, they were all fast friends.

I asked her what it was like in Kansas, and she explained that KC MO is bigger and more prosperous than KC KC. And that there are some places in KC Kc that nobody would want to go, and that her bank office just moved to Overland Park, home of the struggling phone giant Sprint. She said that in the Sprint office complex there are people who can’t get any reception on their Sprint phones.

We talked about our house projects, and traveling, and I told her that I was here in Pittsburgh to write an article about the city. I was doing research, I said. She said she could only have one glass of wine because she had to return to her hotel room to finish the coursework.

The stories people tell are what fascinate me. I am glad I ventured out to the Sonoma Grille and learned her story, plus the tuna and chicken combo was really good with all of those sauces.