AK Monthly Recap: September 2023

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After a busy summer, it was all about staying put in September. Zero travel plans, just enjoying the best of my adopted city for one of the nicest months of the year.

But despite being limited to a small geographic area, this month wasn’t about relaxing. I spent the entire month consumed with DRIVING LESSONS.

Let’s take a look at September 2023!

Kate and Charlie taking a smiling selfie in sunglasses, each holding a frozen mango margarita, with a street festival in the background.
Enjoying frozen mango margaritas at Americke Fest!

Destinations Visited

  • Prague, Czech Republic
Kate standing holding a sign reading "Kate's first day of Czech Driving School. I am 39 years old. My teacher's name is Honza? Probably Honza. I want to be retired when I grow up."
I had to take a first day of school pic!


This month was all about one thing: driving. Finally, I began the process of getting my Czech license — and learning to drive a manual vehicle (aka stick shift) for the first time ever!

While many foreign residents can exchange their licenses for a Czech license, Americans cannot — so I had to go through the whole driving school process. It involves 28 hours of driving (really, 28 45-minute sessions), starting with five on a driving simulator if you’ve never driven a manual before, and five theory classes.

I went to Autoškola Horázný, and the entire thing cost me 39,300 CZK ($1,685 USD): 34,900 CZK ($1,496 USD) for an intensive course (with double sessions, completed in 4-6 weeks rather than three months), including driving test with translator; 600 CZK ($26 USD) for the medical certificate; 700 CZK ($30 USD) for the theory test; 3000 CZK ($129) for a translator for the theory test; and I took so many practice tests I had to fork out an extra 100 CZK ($4) for an additional 100.

Driving school in English costs about double what it costs in Czech, no matter where you go.

It may seem overkill, but I’m SO glad I did this. The Czech driving system is very different from the American driving system — lots of rules about main roads vs. minor roads, when to give way, speed limits for different kinds of zones, and rules for driving amongst trams.

Now that I know what I know, driving in the Czech Republic without knowing the rules seems remarkably reckless!

I’ll have more of an update after my driving tests in October.

Kate standing in an old-fashioned library with a crenellated ceiling painted with angelic frescoes. There are old books on the stacks behind her. She wears a long magenta skirt and a black top.
How amazing is this library?

Taking a private tour of the Strahov Library. The Strahov Library in Prague is one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen — it’s straight out of Beauty and the Beast.

If you buy a regular ticket to the Strahov Library, you can only poke your head in and take photos. If you shell out for a private tour, however, you can actually stroll through the library, take lots of photos and videos, and learn a ton from your guide. They have books dating back to the ninth century!

You can book a private tour here. It’s pricey, but worth it. There’s a great brewery across from the library, too!

A wonderfully surprising evening of Romani cuisine. Do you know anything about Romani cuisine? I knew nothing. So when a Romani chef put on an evening of food of his people, my foodie friends and I jumped at the chance to try something new.

And we were BLOWN AWAY by the food. It started with a sour cabbage and mushroom soup that was bursting with dimensions of flavor. We then moved on to potato purée wrapped in intestine casing — sort of like a near-vegetarian sausage. The main course was giant rabbit and potato ravioli in cream sauce. And we finished with buttery potato gnocchi served with plums and ice cream.

On top of that, every dish was accompanied by a boozy kombucha. Overall, my friends and I agreed that it was one of the most wonderful culinary experiences we’ve had in quite some time.

Lots of food festivals and fun with friends. Prague’s warmer months are packed with food festivals, and September is no exception. One of my favorites was Americke Fest, a big street party with a ton of Latin American food and drinks! And, of course, the annual Prague hot dog eating contest at Mr. Hot Dog, along with a burčak festival at the Botanical Gardens and a Karlín street party.

Charlie and I are thrilled that a Neapolitan pizzeria has opened in our neighborhood — a new branch of San Carlo, a Prague chain we like. We tried a few new spots — Funwari for Japanese-style pancakes, Gao Den for Vietnamese fusion, Sandwich Rodeo for American classics.

And evenings at two of my favorite restaurants in Prague — Aromi because truffle season has begun and they do a FAB truffle pasta, and Kantyna for yet another butcher’s dinner (Dinner off the Bone).

Charlie and I also did a very touristy thing and took a sunset river cruise in Prague! So nice….

New furniture! I got a cabinet to hold my shoes and accessories, as my one tiny European armoire is exploding. Yes, IKEA once again (the furniture pickings are slim in the Czech Republic) but it’s NICE IKEA and I’ll switch out the knobs soon. It has doors that are glass on top and wood on the bottom.

Spending lots of time with my kittens. After so much time away this summer, it’s been SO good to be with them every single day, rubbing their furry faces and giving them lots of kisses.

A gothic church set on a big park with a fountain in the middle of the grass.
My neighborhood square in Karlín — love how many green spaces there are in Prague!


Murray has started pooping outside the litter box again. He got SO GOOD for awhile, and now he’s regressed. He’s still peeing inside it, though.

We are going to try some new litter to see if that helps; honestly, I can’t remember what stopped him last time.

I spent September wrapped up in anxiety over my driving test. It was so hard not to worry about it.

That, and it took up an annoying amount of time and the commute was a pain (while most of Prague is super-easy to get around, the driving school is by JZP, an area that is either a 10 minute walk, 5 minute bus, 14 minute walk or a 32-minute steep uphill walk from my home — I’d take the bus there and walk back).

I don’t care, though — I knew it would be a tough, intense month-plus, and would rather get it over with sooner than stretch it to the usual three months. (Once again, I’m grateful to be self-employed and work my own hours; it made taking all these lessons far easier. I have no idea how 9-to-5ers do it, especially in the winter when it’s dark.)

Lewis the gray tabby cat with a white belly and white paws, stretching out languidly on the bed and sticking his tongue out.
Lewis looking kinda sexy.

Blog Posts of the Month

16 Fun Things to Do in Sorrento, Italy — Sorrento is perhaps one of the best day trip bases in Europe, from where you can visit the Amalfi Coast, Capri, Pompeii, and more. Here’s a guide to the town.

A Detailed Guide to Perast, Montenegro — I absolutely loved spending my 39th birthday in this tiny town on the Adriatic. You should add it to your itinerary for sure.

Montenegro Travel Guide — Want to travel to Montenegro, but have no idea where to begin? Start here. It’s full of all kinds of tips from my past several visits.

30 Fun and Interesting Things to Do in Montenegro — The absolute best of Montenegro, in one big post!

Most Popular Reel on Instagram

Dubrovnik’s Walls: Worth the Cost? was a fun reel to put together. Do you know JUST how expensive the walls have gotten over the years? It went from the equivalent of $7.16 in 2007 to $37.77 in 2023!!

I got to look up decades of pricing information and apply that toward the Croatian inflation rate too. (It would cost the equivalent of $10.68 if merely adjusted for inflation today, which shows you just how nuts it’s become.)

For more fun reels and live updates from my travels, follow me on Instagram at @adventurouskate.

Kate taking a mirror selfie wearing a sheer nude-colored long-sleeved top with tiny black polka dots over a black corset, as well as black shorts. She's inside so wearing her fuzzy purple slippers and Murray the cat hangs out by her feet.
Quick mirror selfie — plus Murray!

Fashion Find of the Month

I saw a reel on Instagram where @andreasfashiongalaxy featured a sheer long-sleeved polka-dot top worn underneath a strappy black dress. It’s a great little video on how to make a sexy dress more wearable, in ways besides throwing a blazer or cardigan on top.

“OMG I NEED that sheer polka dot top!” I commented. And she replied that it was a few seasons old from Topshop, and maybe I could find it secondhand somewhere.

I took to the internet, and what do you know — I found it on eBay. One quick bid later, it was mine. And it’s everything I hoped it would be. A lovely pinky beige with tiny black dots.

I wore it out to dinner at Aromi, on top of an H&M x Mugler corset and my favorite black wool Rome Shorts by Sézane. Ideally, it should be worn over a tank top rather than a corset (got my eye on this one), a belt with an actual gold buckle, and I’d love some polka-dot tights for fall!

What I Watched This Month

The Diplomat. Charlie and I chose this Netflix political thriller at random one day, and it’s turned out to be a fun watch. Basically, Keri Russell is a high-level diplomat in Afghanistan who is due to return to Kabul until she is suddenly chosen to be ambassador to the UK instead, which is reeling from a terrorist attack on a military ship.

But what makes this different? Her husband is a former ambassador, also high-level around the world. And he is a total narcissist — super charming and affable, but he can’t stand not being the center of attention, so he keeps trying to be involved in the secret happenings of different governments. Good stuff.

Below Deck update: This month we watched a series in real time for the first time: Below Deck Down Under, Season 2. We weren’t going to watch it, but this season has been in the news a lot: one crew member attempted to sexually assault another crew member, and it was stopped by the producers.

That predator was fired promptly, along with another crew member. It’s brought up a lot of questions about reality TV, where so many shows ply contestants with alcohol and situations like these can so easily happen.

Beyond the awful stuff, it was actually positive seeing how well Captain Jason and Chief Stew Aesha handled the situation. They set a good example that others should follow. Jason is my favorite of the captains and a huge part of that is how he manages his crew, both in good times and bad. And the cast is lovely this season, and most of the guests are laid-back and cool.

Murray the gray tabby cat with a big white belly, twisted on his back on Kate's office chair, offering his belly up for rubs.
Chief Furry Officer, Murray Bear! (I have a whole song I sing him about being a chief furry officer when he’s sitting in my office chair.)

What I Read This Month

Counting the Cost by Jill Duggar with Derek Dillard and Craig Borlase (2023) — Jill was the model child of the Duggar family. She was the most devout, the best-behaved, and her father’s favorite daughter. Until she and her husband began questioning Jim Bob’s financial domination of the family — and he cut them off. This is the Duggar memoir that tells the ugly truth behind the scenes.

WELL, YOU KNOW I HAD THIS ONE PRE-ORDERED. The Duggars have been a morbid fascination of mine ever since their first TV special; today I’m one of the many DuggarsSnark members on Reddit. Yeah, it’s a weird hobby, but we also helped raise a lot of money for the Children’s Safety Center of Arkansas, helping child victims of sexual abuse in the Duggars’ region.

I didn’t know if Jill would spill anything substantial in this book — and YES. She did, and the book was SO worth it. The overarching theme of the book was Jill’s relationship with her parents and her father in particular, and the impact of growing up on reality TV but not being compensated for what she gave the network. She doesn’t talk about her brother Josh’s abuse (which of course is her right) but shares a lot of anger at the abuse reports becoming public.

Among the revelations in the book? Jill was contractually bound to show her labor and delivery on TV. Her second child’s birth was, as many of us suspected at the time, traumatic — she had a uterine rupture and needed an immediate c-section with no anesthesia (JESUS CHRIST).

And Jill’s sister-in-law Anna once gave birth on the toilet and told the producers she didn’t authorize them to air that footage. They aired it, then later decided to remove it for re-runs, but kept it in all the flashback sequences.

There’s a moment from Jill’s childhood when they were on the beach in their modest swimwear (essentially dresses over wetsuits) and her being terrified that the boys would see women in bikinis and would go to hell for their thoughts. Because the Duggars always teach that it’s the women that defraud the men.

And most delightedly, Jill alleges that Jim Bob has committed felony tax fraud. (In the words of Iago the parrot, “I’M GONNA HAVE A HEART ATTACK FROM NOT SURPRISE!”) Not only did he pocket all the reality TV money while telling his kids, “It’s a ministry,” he also told the IRS he paid the kids money he never paid them and they didn’t find out until they got a huge tax bill. Oh MAN, if the IRS take Jim Bob down, that would be SWEET.

Oxford England, with layers of gothic church steeples and stone buildings, underneath a partly cloudy sky.
Oxford on a sunny day, via Shutterstock.

Coming Up in October 2023

This month will be quiet, for the most part, and spent almost entirely in Prague. I’m very eager for even more Prague time! I feel like I’m still recovering from the summer!

But Charlie and I will be spending a long weekend in the UK for our friend’s annual bonfire party outside London. Lately we’ve been visiting a new destination in England for a few days before the bonfire. Last year was Brighton; this year we’re doing Oxford! I’m eager to finally visit this university town that is a popular day trip from London.

Beyond that, I hope I can fit in a day trip or two somewhere new in the Czech Republic before the end of the month. I know I keep saying that…but now that driving classes are nearly finished, there’s actual time for that!

Coming up next…my driver’s test. Send me all the good vibes!

Six friends posing arm-in-arm in Belgrade, including Kate and her friend Leah in the middle.
Belgrade, 2015: Melvin, Becki, me, Leah, Rob, and our local guide.

In Memoriam

It’s always heart-wrenching to say goodbye to a friend from the world of travel blogging. This one especially hurts.

I met Leah in Kotor in 2015. We grabbed a drink as blogging colleagues but ended the evening as friends; a few days later, I hired her to work for me. You can still see her beautiful work scattered throughout my site today.

On her blog, The Sweetest Way, Leah told stories with unflinching honesty. She shared the reality of digital nomad life with humor and humility. But her greatest strength was her photography. Soft, beautiful, always creative.

Leah moved to Maui to build her photography business. After years of nomadic life, she felt called to put down roots on the island she had loved since childhood. We lost touch a few years ago, when she gave up social media.

This month I learned that Leah is on the official list of missing people in Maui following the devastating fire in Lahaina.

Leah, you didn’t deserve this. You deserved light and joy and a long, happy life. I hope you’ve found the peace you searched for in this world. I hope your loved ones are able to receive closure and eventually find joy in their memories.

I’ll never forget you.

This is a story Leah wrote that has always stayed with me, about running into a group of Syrian refugees on a train in Macedonia. Please take the time to read it.

And please keep in touch with your friends who give up social media. Not everyone who goes offline is in a good place.