This weekend some of our friends from the UK paid us a surprise visit. Actually, I was in on the surprise, but hubby was in the dark until Friday evening when they arrived and we did a bit of jumping about whilst shouting “Surprise”, which I am pretty sure gave it away. We had a really lovely weekend – a trip to Vyšehrad Castle in the sunshine, to Prague Zoo in the snow, and to a number of restaurant, pubs and cafes in-between. Hubby’s face when his mates turned up was a picture. Once he stopped looking bemused, he was really chuffed, and why not? How lovely to have your friends appear as if by magic! For him, it certainly took away any concerns along the lines of: “Have we booked the restaurant?”, “Where shall we go on Saturday if it rains?” or “Is the spare bed made up?”. Although, to be completely honest, even if he had expected them, it probably would have just been me worrying anyway.
This got me thinking about surprises, and to be honest, I am not much of a fan when I am the “surprise-ee”. They do not really suit my personality. I am a planner (that is putting it kindly) and like to know what’s going on. I am from a family of worriers and people who need to be On Time, which can mean that spontaneity often takes a back-seat. I also tend to be a bit of a pain if I haven’t done as much exercise as I might have liked or wake up to find that all of my weekend casual-capsule-wardrobe clothes are in the wash/really should be in the wash.
I was talking to a similarly spontaneously-challenged friend recently who agreed that friends surprising you for a weekend is great if you have had one of those magical weeks where the gym has been frequented, clothes have been washed, flat is tidy-ish and the milk doesn’t smell a bit funky. But mildly more stressful if you’ve had a bitch of a week, come home to collapse on the sofa, only to find some of your nearest and dearest waiting in your apartment wanting to eat food you didn’t know you needed to get. Also, I enjoy looking forwards to things like this and relish the build-up to friends visiting, visiting friends, or going away for a weekend. Having “surprises” kept secret can take that away.
Prague surprises me all the time, however, and in a good way. I have been surprised at the efficiency of the metro system here, almost every time I get on it. But growing up in London has left me, by necessity, easily pleased when it comes to public transport. I am surprised at how much nicer winter is here – yes, it is truly freezing at times and I saw actual ice-flows in the river once, but it is (this year at least) bright and dry and crisp. I am surprised at how nice dumplings are. I arrived in Prague expecting to lump them in my phobia-of- white-mushy-foods category (I didn’t eat bananas until I was 24, and mashed potato remains my nemesis), but actually find dumplings strangely more-ish.
I was also more than pleasantly surprised at the amazing curry we had with our friends at the end of our surprise weekend. We went to The Pind in Vinohrady, which was my first experience of Czech curry. As someone who used to frequent Brick Lane more regularly than I am proud of, I have been craving curry lately. I had heard mixed reviews about the availability of quality curry in the Czech Republic and so was a little dubious when I booked. I am happy to report though that The Pind was really very good, and definitely worth a visit. The Prague Post’s review is spot on – go there immediately.
Which goes to show that being open to surprises, or just to new experiences and places, can be good for you, even if they are things that take you out of your comfort zone, or mean that your friends arrive to find you with no clean clothes and milk that could walk itself out of the kitchen. And there clearly are some great surprises to be had in Prague, some of which we have enjoyed already and some which are yet to come, I am sure.
So please do drop round whenever you like. It would be lovely to see you. But maybe call ahead first…