We have grown slightly accustomed to our new culture not being aligned with that of the United States. Miniature candy and cheap costumes didn’t line shelves in October, nor was cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie seasoning abundantly displayed at every grocery store in November. So, when February rolled around and Brach’s candy hearts and Sponge Bob Valentine cards didn’t make a debut, we thought that Valentine’s Day would be about as popular here as Arbor Day in the States. We were wrong.
We went to bed on the night of the 13th with a couple of ideas for dinner, planning on deciding for sure in the morning. When we got up, Chris went and got the number for our top choice to call and make reservations. We decided to stick to the “touristy” places so that we could call and find someone who spoke English. I was sweeping the floor when I heard a response that I wasn’t expecting.
“What? You are totally full tonight? No space at all? Oh, okay. Thanks anyway.” Choice number two. “You’ve been full for a week, oh, okay. Thanks anyway." Choice number three. “No tables? How about the bar? Full too, eh. Okay, thanks anyway.” I saw that Chris was really starting to sweat until he finally made some headway with choice number four. “You’ve kept a few tables open for suckers like us who didn’t make reservations? Great! What time do you start serving dinner? We’ll be there.” So, Macaroni Grill it was.
For the early afternoon, we had planned on packing a lunch and taking a hike on a hill behind our apartment. However, during our mad dinner dash, we failed to notice the nimbus clouds rolling in and taking residence just over said apartments and hill. So, just as we stepped out to purchase our lunch provisions, soft pellets of rain forced an immediate 180 and we made our way back indoors.
Plan B. We each grabbed a book and headed to a café where we could sip on a cup of coffee and read for a while. The game plan was to skip lunch, have an early dinner and be sure to get a table at the first come, first serve option. But, Cupid’s arrow wasn’t finished with us just yet. Turns out, cafés are just as popular as restaurants on Valentine’s Day. So there was actually a wait there, too. Plan C. We thought we remembered stumbling across a small coffee shop near Macaroni Grill so we thought we’d give it a go. Spotting a free table, we leapt into action as I threw myself across the table to reserve it and Chris secured a place in line. After people stopped staring because of our bizarre acrobatic display, we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon full of espresso and Orson Wells.
When the gnawing in our stomachs reminded us of our neglected lunch, we decided to try for a table at Macaroni Grill. Seeing several open tables, we strode up confidently to the hostess and requested to be seated. “Absolutely,” she said. “What name is the reservation under?” We sheepishly admitted that we did not, in the most technical since, have a reservation. Apprehensively, she asked, “Can you finish your meal in one hour and a half?” We guaranteed that we could make that happen and breathed a sigh of relief as she directed us to a booth. Dinner turned out to be delicious and we made it out well under our time limit. We hopped over to an international grocery store and grabbed a few “comfort foods” and caught the bus back home. The rest of the evening was spent snacking in front of whatever chick flicks came on HBO.
In all, it turned out to be a pretty fun Valentine’s Day. But, I have learned my lesson. When Arbor Day comes around this year, you had better believe I am making dinner reservations well in advance.