Dining alone is probably the worst thing about being a travel guide writer–but _not_ dining alone turns out to be slightly worse.
After my Pyramids trail of tears, I just wanted a nice little dinner, in a spot near my hotel.
But no, apparently. I went to two separate restaurants and simply could not get served. It was the oddest thing–I talke to the maitre d’, I went over to a table and I waited for someone to bring me a menu. And waited. And waited. Now I’ve been told that these places have notoriously bad service. At the time, though, it was very hard not to take it personally.
From a guidebook-research perspective, however, it was great: I got to sit in these places for about 20 minutes, look at the food, see who came in and out, generally soak up the vibe, and then not have to pay a penny! Of course I had to slink out in shame (well, I pretended to get a cell-phone call), but I guess it was worth it.
I finally was driven into the arms of Felfela, a serviceable but unexciting tourist joint. This finally pushed me over the edge, as I was barraged with bad service English: “Bon appetit,” said the guy as he poured my much-needed beer, and it went downhill from there.
On my walk home, I passed so much more bad English, on signs, on T-shirts in windows, from random people trying to talk to me, that I was at the breaking point that only a part-time copy editor can get to.
I read a little fluent English before bed, and slept OK. Peter has since arrived, so I have good English input again. The drawback, of course, is that my Arabic is now floundering.
I realize now, as the guy at the Internet cafe is fiddling with my computer and potentially reading what I’m writing, that I’ve become the horrible tourist complaining about bad service. Let me just clarify it is 85 percent my fault that I didn’t get served in those restaurants. Next post: I complain about getting overcharged!