AK Monthly Recap: November-December 2023

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I’ve been doing monthly recaps since I first set out to travel more than 13 years ago — but this is the first time ever I’ve ever missed a month. I pride myself on recapping every month without failure, so this one hurt!

That said, it was planned. Charlie and I scheduled our big South American honeymoon for November and December, and though we scheduled in two “work breaks” in Puerto Varas and Buenos Aires, I knew I would have to prioritize other work first.

So I hope you don’t mind you have this double recap — as well as the best of the year posts, which have been postponed to January. QUITE A LOT happened over the past two months.

Let’s take a look at our South American adventure!

Kate and Charlie standing in front of a lake and snow-covered mountain in Patagonia.
Patagonia, baby!

Destinations Visited

  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Santa Cruz, Palmilla, San Pedro de Atacama, Laguna Flamingos, Termas de Puritama, Socaire, Lagunas Altiplánicas, Piedras Rojas, Puerto Varas, Frutillar, Puerto Octay, Las Cascadas, Petrohue, Puerto Montt, Torres del Paine National Park, Lake Grey, Valparaíso, and Santiago, Chile
  • El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier, El Chaltén, Buenos Aires, and Valle de Uco, Argentina
  • Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
  • Revere, Beverly, Salem, and Danvers, Massachusetts, USA
  • Portsmouth and Salem, New Hampshire, USA
An outdoor museum with a traditional German wooden home surrounded by hedges and gardens.
Frutillar, a taste of Germany in Chile


Finally, it was honeymoon time! But because these are two months, let’s go in order:

I FINALLY got my Czech license! Third time was the charm! I did my third test, which was my final chance. If I failed, I would need to take driving school over again (which was NOT happening).

I did my test and I was pretty good. Not perfect — but good enough to pass. They gave me my paperwork and encouraged me to continue practicing driving manual with my husband, LOL.

I spent the first half of November home alone with the kitties while Charlie was away in Portugal. And while it seems like they love him more than me, they were SO clingy and loving, even both sleeping next to me at night.

When Charlie got back we had a special dinner at Kampa Park, one of the best restaurants in Prague, to celebrate me passing my driver’s test. It was lovely, start to finish, and a great spot if you want to splurge with a view of the Charles Bridge.

And then the honeymoon! We flew business class on KLM to Santiago (love the cheese, got new KLM houses), and set off to Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley.

Kate and Charlie standing in a vineyard, a mountain behind them.
Colchagua Valley, Chile
People luxuriating in pools beneath waterfalls in the middle of a canyon in the desert.
Puritama Hot Springs, Atacama Desert, Chile
A man sitting on a bench in a park overlooking a lake in Chile.
Puerto Varas, Chile

In Colchagua we spent a day visiting different wineries and trying their deep, dark reds. We also got to make our own custom wines, and the Colchagua Museum was an unexpected highlight, with an exhibit on the Chilean miners who were trapped underground and rescued.

(Side note — I now love the idea of starting a long trip at a wine resort or similarly relaxing destination, especially after a long flight across lots of time zones. Much better to be low-key than try to see everything in a city.)

Our next stop was the Atacama Desert, where we rented a car and drove around the arid, empty, brightly colored landscape. We went stargazing (not the best idea to do that during a full moon, but that was all we had!), luxuriated in the Puritama Hot Springs at the bottom of a canyon, and ate a lot of empanadas.

Next we headed to Puerto Varas and the Lakes Region, which was so wonderfully lush after the dry desert! Here we worked for a few days and then drove around Lake Llanquihue, filled with adorable German villages from the immigrants who settled here in the 1850s.

Up next was Patagonia!

A pristine, calm green-blue lake surrounded by Rocky Mountains, including three sharp rocky spires in the distance.
Base of the towers, Torres del Paine, Chile
An enormous blue and white glacier with crowds standing on platforms watching it.
Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate, Argentina
Kate and Charlie taking a selfie in front of a jagged mountain range that looks exactly like the Patagonia logo.
Fitz Roy View, El Chaltén, Argentina

We flew to Puerto Natales and headed to Ecocamp Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park. (Ecocamp offered me three free nights in exchange for some coverage, which you’ll be seeing soon; I paid for a fourth night.) We stayed in fantastic domes and enjoyed a digital detox.

At Ecocamp, every day you choose an excursion. One day we did a boat trip to Glacier Grey, one day we did a wildlife hike, and one day we did the grueling hike to the base of the towers — one of the most difficult hikes I have ever done. It got ugly by the end, but we were so glad we did it!

After Ecocamp, we headed to two different towns in Argentine Patagonia — El Calafate and El Chaltén. El Calafate is most famous for Perito Moreno Glacier, where we did some glacier trekking; El Chaltén is a hiking paradise, and we enjoyed hiking to the view of Fitz Roy (no more super-tough hikes after the base of the towers!).

A bookstore inside a theater, with gorgeously laid out rows of books and a fresco on the ceiling.
Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina
A street of small colorful homes lined with tall, green trees in Uruguay.
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Rows of vineyards leading up to the Andes Mountains.
Valle de Uco, near Mendoza, Argentina
A view of colorful buildings on a steep hillside in Valparaiso.
Valparaíso, Chile

After that was a flight to Buenos Aires — where we stayed for a week and ate our way through the city, and hung out with our blogger friends Nathan and Lauren. We also did a day trip by boat to the lovely UNESCO World Heritage Site of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.

Our journey took us to Mendoza next, and we spent a few days relaxing at Casa de Uco, a wine resort in the Valle de Uco. Views of the vineyards leading up to the jagged Andes were spectacular.

With just a few days left, we managed to fit in an afternoon and a morning of exploring the colorful port town of Valparaíso, Chile, and spent a day exploring Santiago.

From Santiago we headed home to Boston for Christmas, and I got to spend time with lots of family members as well as my closest friends from high school.

We flew back to Prague, napped our jet lag away, went to Kantyna, and rang in the new year quietly at home.

And while we were away, Lewis and Murray were well cared for by one of their favorite humans, who stayed in our apartment and gave them so much love.

A street in Buenos Aires with several trees lying in the street after a storm.
We were hit by a huge storm in Buenos Aires.


The shooting in Prague. It was absolutely shocking that a gunman killed 15 people at Charles University. This happens daily in the US, but it never happens in the Czech Republic — this is the largest massacre in the history of the country.

I’m bereft for the loved ones of those killed. We all expect changes in the gun laws to be made soon, as the Czech Republic does not have an NRA trying to loosen the gun laws. And pretty much every American living in Prague had the same comment: “I moved here to get AWAY from this.”

And honestly, that puts the rest of these “challenges” in perspective, as they were mild by comparison, but here they are:

While we were away, one of our neighbors decided to turn the heat off in their unit, and they ended up turning off heat for the whole building. Which led to a freak-out as we tried to figure out how to keep our friend and kitties warm while we were in Chile, though thankfully it got fixed and no space heaters were needed.

The desert was rough. The Atacama Desert is a high altitude desert, which makes it a tough environment to be in, especially if you live close to sea level. We were dealing with headaches and super-dry noses and lips (the latter of which didn’t clear up for a week).

We had a bit of a scare with a tire in the desert. After two days in the Atacama, we got a Spanish language notification on the car that one of the tires was low. We went to the gas station (the one and only gas station in the area), filled it up, and went about our day.

The next morning, it was perilously low again. That freaked us out. This wasn’t a one-time fix — this was going to keep happening. And again, the desert is BARREN! I freaked out our entire hourlong drive back to Calama Airport, but we made it.

The storm to end all storms. Buenos Aires was hit by a MASSIVE storm one night we were there. (I actually slept through it. Yay, earplugs.) The next morning, there were trees down all over the city.

Two days after the storm, things were still a bit crazy in the city and we had an absolutely hellish experience at the airport. I won’t get into it because nobody likes airport stories, but if you’re flying out of AEP, get there EARLY. Oh, and Mendoza is a “south” destination in Argentina, not a “north” destination, DESPITE ALL MAPS TELLING YOU THE OPPOSITE.

COVID arrived at an inconvenient time. A family member of mine came down with COVID right before Christmas, which led to some last-minute scrambling — but it all turned out okay. Recovery was swift, we spent time together in N95 masks, and nobody else got COVID.

Two gray tabby cats with white bellies and white paws sitting facing each other with wide eyes.
Of course Lewis and Murray make it into every post!

New Posts of the Month

This month I began publishing posts co-written with my new, wonderful writers — so you can expect to see detailed posts on places I’ve been that I’ve always MEANT to write about, but never had time to. We’re diving deep into Puglia at the moment.

Visiting Prague in Winter: Worth It or Not? — Thinking whether it would be worth visiting Prague in winter? You should come!! I loved writing this piece.

17 Cool Things to do in Matera, Italy — Matera is one of my absolute favorite offbeat places in southern Italy. This ancient stone town looks like nowhere else in the world.

16 Fab Things to do in Lecce, Italy — I really loved Lecce — and it’s a fantastic value-for-money destination in Puglia, where you can easily day trip all over Salento.

17 Fun Things to do in Bari, Italy — It’s the big city of Puglia, but is it actually worth visiting? I think it is — for around half a day, or maybe a whole day.

13 Best Things to do in Kittery, Maine — Everyone goes to Kittery to go to the outlets. But this little beach town on the New Hampshire border has lots of other things to do, too.

15 Fun Things to Do in York, Maine — Ah, York — one of the ultimate family-friendly towns of the southern Maine seacoast! I’ve been going to York forever, and it’s one of my favorite day trips in this part of New England.

Most Popular Reel on Instagram

This month I had my fourth million-view reel ever — talking about the KLM houses, the white and blue Delft pottery houses that the airline gives you to guests on transcontinental business class flights.

For more updates from my travels, follow me on Instagram at @adventurouskate.

Kate standing in front of a calm lake in the desert, wearing black satin cargo pants, a denim jacket, and a small hot pink pill-shaped purse hanging on her shoulder.
Rocking the purse at the Lagunas Altiplanicos in the Atacama Desert.

Fashion Moment of the Month

Shout-out to the tiny Marc Jacobs Snapshot purse I bought on Vinted this month! This was my “travel bag” for all of South America. Now, this is a bit of a weird choice, as most people bring a large bag for their travels.

But for me, I wanted something that was small and hard to break into, as we were going to some areas where you need to be more theft-conscious (don’t forget I got my wallet stolen in Buenos Aires back in 2008).

And yes, this purse is small. You can barely fit anything into it — you’ll need a cardholder rather than a wallet. But if you want something small, sporty, and easy to hold onto at an event, this is a good one. I found mine secondhand and got a great deal!

I started selling my clothes on Vinted and Vestiaire Collective this month. (Feel free to shop from those links if you’d like — Vinted for Czech Republic/Slovakia/Poland residents only and Vestiaire for everyone.)

I always held back because I thought it would be too much of a hassle — turns out it wasn’t as bad as I feared. In fact, it’s been GREAT!

Sure, I almost always sell the clothes for less than what I paid — but you know what? It feels SO GOOD to be removing an item from my closet that’s not being worn, knowing it’s continuing its journey and going to someone who really wants it. And of course, making some money is nice, too.

What I Watched This Month

I watched a lot of stuff this month — but will simply recommend my favorite show: Bad Sisters on Apple TV+. It’s a miniseries created by the brilliant Sharon Horgan, who also stars.

The series is about five Irish sisters, ranging from early 30s to late 40s. One of them is married to a horribly abusive man. The other sisters realize that he’s slowly killing her, that she’s shrinking into herself. She won’t leave him. So the sisters decide to kill him.

The show opens with him dead — but you don’t know how it happened. So it slowly unravels as you see how it all went down.

First off, the cast is SUPERB, and the writing is fantastic. You really believe that these five women are sisters; they have such lived-in relationships with each other. The show is wickedly funny, and despite the very dark subject matter, it feels so COZY. Why? It’s the Irish-ness of it all! Ireland is so cozy.

But beyond that, this show is perhaps the best depiction of emotional abuse that I’ve seen on-screen (I mean, besides Twilight). So often abusive relationships are reduced to drinking, hitting, apologizing, and the cycle repeating itself. Which isn’t always the way it looks.

And…I also didn’t watch a single episode of Below Deck these past two months. Have I been cured?!?!

Dome-style buildings in Patagonia, with mountains and a sunset rising up in the background.
Ecocamp Patagonia was our favorite place we stayed!

What I Read This Month

Leslie F*cking Jones by Leslie Jones (2023) — In this memoir, Leslie Jones tells the story of her rise to stardom — from growing up in Memphis and Compton to playing college basketball, discovering comedy, and landing on Saturday Night Live.

First of all, you MUST, MUST, MUST get the audiobook version. Leslie doesn’t read the book — she riffs like it’s a stand-up set for 15 hours. I hear it’s very different from the book version.

I have always been a huge Leslie fan — and I laughed SO HARD throughout this book! I have read lots of SNL memoirs and she dishes so much, including an edgy weekend update segment she and Kenan wrote and wanted to do SO much but Lorne basically banned because it went too far.

But in addition to being hilarious, this was a GOOD MEMOIR. What I love the most in memoirs is when someone can look back at their life and be introspective about how they’ve changed since then. Leslie does that in spades (she has made GREAT use of therapy) and it makes the book so much better.

Yellowface by R. F. Kwon (2023) — In this novel, June Haywood and Athena Liu are college friends and aspiring novelists — but while Athena is the darling of the literary world, June’s writing goes ignored. Until one night, when Athena dies suddenly in front of June. June steals her manuscript, a novel about the Chinese laborers of World War I, and decides to publish it as her own.

That’s not all — June rebrands herself as Juniper Song with an ethnically ambiguous photo, kind-of but not really pretending to be Asian, and when her book becomes phenomenally successful, she becomes the new literary darling. But soon, people catch on to her stealing the book, and she attempts to outrun them all.

Well, I absolutely LOVED this book. Dark, funny, and so much of the fun is waiting for June to get what’s coming to her! It’s the humor in this book that keeps it a riveting read; in another author’s hands it could have been over-the-top preachy. Highly recommend it.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (2022) — In one of the most lauded novels of 2022, Gabrielle Zevin tells the story of Sadie and Sam, two childhood friends from California who reconnect while attending Harvard and MIT in Cambridge. They decide to build a video game together and soon rocket to the top of the industry — but their relationship ends up having ups and downs.

I resisted reading this for so long because it was about video games — but I shouldn’t have. Video games are the catalyst, for sure, but this book is about people and relationships as they change over time. (Often people who would GET ALONG if they were JUST HONEST ABOUT HOW THEY WERE FEELING.)

The characters didn’t grow as much as I wanted them to — in fact, I don’t think they grew much at all. But I loved all the fast-paced action and excitement, and I loved reading so many scenes set in my former stomping grounds of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (2019) — Alex Claremont-Diaz is the son of the first female president and America’s sweetheart. But one person he’s never gotten along with is Prince Henry of England, whom he can’t stand. But after a very public altercation between the two, the palace and the White House pair them up to bring some good PR. But they did not expect to fall in love.

This is a delightful romantic comedy. The first son! The prince! They fall in love!! And it has to be a SECRET because nobody can know the prince is gay! You need to suspend your disbelief for much of it, but it’s a really sweet book and love story.

I also saw the movie afterward (it’s on Amazon, and I watched it on a plane) — I really enjoyed it, and it was adapted very well, removing more complicated plot lines and smoothing it all out.

A guanaco (llama-like animal) posing for the camera, Patagonian mountains behind him.
A perfect Patagonian postcard!

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld (2013) — This novel tells the story of twin sisters who grew up with what they call “senses” — a psychic ability to know people’s secrets, or fragments of the future. It begins in their adulthood. One sister, Kate, hates her senses and spent years trying to ignore them; the other, Violet, leans into them and began working as a psychic medium.

Then Violet gets a sense that their hometown, St. Louis, will be hit by a massive earthquake. This throws their lives and their relationship into turmoil.

I love Curtis Sittenfeld, and I’m currently reading everything she’s written (my favorite? Rodham, a speculative novel about what if Hillary had broken up with Bill after college and forged her own path). This was a fun read, and I loved the sisters’ complicated relationship, but it took such an awful turn at the end that it unfortunately made me feel worse at the ending.

The Hole We’re In by Gabrielle Zevin (2010) — An earlier novel by Gabrielle Zevin tells the story of a Sabbath Day Adventist family living in Texas in the late 90s, and how the father’s decision to go back to school for his Ph.D leads to a series of cataclysmic events for every member of the family, but especially the youngest daughter.

Okay. The beginning of this novel was SO SO SO GOOD. Every chapter showed the perspective of a different family member, each of them making their own mistakes that compounded and compounded over time. But then the second part of the book only focused on the youngest daughter — a character who I had zero desire to spend time with.

More than anything, I wish the book had kept the momentum of the beginning going! The problems are so quintessentially early 2000s, from credit cards being foisted on college students to innocuously joining the army reserves to pay for college, then 9/11 happens and surprise! You’re getting sent to Iraq.

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears (2023) — Here it is — the long-awaited memoir by Britney Spears, detailing her conservatorship and everything before and after.

Britney has been used by everyone in her life. Her family is awful. And they absolutely knew what they were doing. Her father saying, “I’m Britney Spears now,” and controlling every aspect of her life while making her work like crazy to line his pockets.

As a memoir, though, this isn’t a great one. It was clearly written quickly, there was zero introspection, and I didn’t see any kind of transformation or growth. There were some incidents (the energy supplements?) where I wanted more clarity.

Like most Britney fans, I want her to be healthy and happy and able to live freely, away from the vultures.

A Baroque building in Prague with pink and yellow walls and a big wooden door.
The Dvořak Museum in Prague — a new place visited!

Coming Up in January 2024

January is a month for work — and I will be spending it entirely in Prague. There is a LOT of work to catch up on. Honestly, guys, I’m nearly drowning at the moment.

My end-of-year recaps have been pushed from December to January this year, so you have those to look forward to.

Charlie and I are doing Dry January this year, spending the month booze-free. I take a month off alcohol most years and highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it.

I’ve also decided that I’d like to do 50 new things in Prague in 2024. I’ve put together a list, and it’s time to start going to all the museums I haven’t been to yet! I’ve already been to three so far in January!

What are your plans for this year? Share away!

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