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AK Monthly Recap: July 2023

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Looking back at July 2023, I’m in disbelief. How did this much stuff happen in a single month? This much travel?!

This was the biggest month I’ve had in some time, beginning with our Boston wedding on July 2, and taking me to seven countries in total (!), most for just a few days.

Let’s take a look — the best of July 2023!

Walking up from Cheers!

Destinations Visited

  • Boston, Beverly, and Gloucester, Massachusetts
  • London, Abbots Langley, Watford, and Bushey, England
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Mondsee, Salzburg, and Sankt Johann in Tirol, Austria
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Čilipi, Croatia
  • Žabljak, Durmitor National Park, Bitine, Dabojevići, Podgorica, Perast, and Kotor, Montenegro

WHEW.

Kate and Charlie after their Boston wedding ceremony, Kate holds up her bouquet with one arm, holding Charlie's hand, walking down the
The dampened bride and groom!

Highlights

Our Boston wedding! (I know, I know, you’re sick of hearing about wedding stuff — THIS IS THE LAST WEDDING IN A MONTHLY RECAP.) We knew we had to have a Boston wedding for my family that couldn’t make it to Prague, and originally assumed it would be a small affair, maybe something at a restaurant.

Then it quickly snowballed into a wedding of around 60 — and turned into a fabulous event.

It rained pretty hard that day, but Charlie and I got married in Boston Public Garden surrounded by our friends in umbrellas, and our bridesmaids in rain-soaked pastel dresses! (And because of the rain, nobody else was in the park!! What an advantage to a downpour.)

We had our reception at Bostonia Public House in the Financial District, which had SO much good food and put on a great event for us all. We finished with an after-party at the tiki bar next door.

The day before, the wedding, my bridesmaids and I went for afternoon tea at the Boston Public Library, and that evening, everyone was invited to a get-to-know-the-guests gathering at NightShift Brewing. Both super fun events.

Overall — the Boston wedding was mostly for my family and friends who couldn’t make Prague, though Charlie had a handful of “his people” there too, and it was SO nice to celebrate with everyone from my family to my college friends to travel blogger buds. And to have the ceremony in the Public Garden, a place I’ve loved since I was eight, made it all the more special.

And our officiant canceled on us at the last minute — but Charlie and I asked our friend Chris to step in at the last minute, and he did SO AMAZINGLY with a meaningful ceremony.

The professional wedding photos are by Joe Gonzalez-Dufresne, who did a FANTASTIC job with the most ethereal rainy photos, and we can’t wait to see the rest of them!

Beyond the wedding, in Boston we went to a Red Sox game, visited my dad’s new condo on the North Shore, and spent a day hanging out in Gloucester, where I hadn’t been in awhile (highly recommend the Azorean Restaurant if you’re in town).

A nice few days in the UK. And now to see the British side of the family! Charlie’s sister put on a party for us to celebrate with some members of the family who couldn’t make any of the weddings. It was so nice seeing them (and enjoying his sister’s pizza shack in the backyard).

Additionally, I always try to do something new whenever I’m in London, and this time it was the Jurassic Afternoon Tea at the Ampersand Hotel. This is a dinosaur-themed afternoon tea — equally fun for kids and adults, and the food is so good! You can see my Reel about it here.

Barbie movie mania! My friend Klara and I dressed up in our Barbie best, we went with Charlie and our friend Nick, and we LAUGHED OUR ASSES OFF. I didn’t expect the movie to be that hilarious — I think it’s the hardest I’ve laughed in a theater since the ending of The Hangover!

We went to a new Sichuan/Chongqing restaurant in Prague beforehand, Nali, and the highlight was shrimp and pork dumplings swimming in pulsatingly hot chili oil.

A stately Czech palace in red and white, surrounded by tall green plants.
Isn’t Troja Chateau a gorgeous building in Prague?

French market in Prague! This is one of my favorite food festivals of the year, taking place the week of Bastille Day. They have now moved the festival from the Mala Strana end of the Charles Bridge to Troja Chateau, which is a far more airier and less touristy location, making it more of a local event.

A nice weekend in Austria. Charlie had an appointment in the Austrian town of Sankt Johann in Tirol on a Monday morning, so we decided to make a weekend of it and drive down to Salzburg beforehand.

This was my first time in Salzburg in more than a decade, and it was nice to revisit the city — and confirm that the Salzburg Card is the best city card in Europe. We each paid 30 EUR for a 24-hour card and got more than 120 EUR value without too much effort. I’ll be going into that in a post!

We also briefly stopped by Mondsee to see the bright teal lake, and Sankt Johann in Tirol was a gorgeous little town where we enjoyed a night out at a brewery overlooking the mountains.

A lovely few days in Copenhagen. Charlie had a business trip, and I tagged along for the weekend before. It had been awhile since my last Copenhagen visit, and it’s such a stately, cool city.

Some of the highlights were taking a really nice guided tour on our first morning, hanging with my Copenhagen friend Alex, revisiting my favorite Copenhagen restaurant Høst, enjoying outstanding cocktails at Pluto, and finally visiting Tivoli Gardens, the amusement park right in the heart of the city.

A return to Montenegro! For my birthday this year, I wanted to be in Montenegro. We started out by driving from Dubrovnik to the spectacular landscapes of Durmitor National Park. After a full day there, we headed down to Ostrog Monastery, Podgorica (LOL) and then the lovely village of Perast on the Bay of Kotor.

Perast is one of my new favorite places. This stunning village has a population of 300 and just enough facilities for everything you need. And while Kotor has become massively overtouristed in the past decade, Perast has not. Not yet, at least.

An aerial view of Salzburg, with lots of white and gray Italian-style buildings next to a blue river.
First thing in the morning, head to Hohensalzburg Fortress for this view of the Salzburg in good light!

Challenges

Oh boy, there were a number of snafus with the Boston wedding. I guess we were due some issues after two perfect weddings. The rain, the cancelled officiant, missing flower baskets for the kids, and a few other things. But it’s okay. We had fun with our loved ones, and that’s the important part.

Many pillow debacles. I’ve talked before about how I’m having increasing trouble using a pillow that is not a contour pillow. I’ve been traveling with a little contour pillow when I can, but I didn’t this month, and here’s what went wrong:

In Boston, the unsupportive pillows left my whole body in pain for days and made me realize I REALLY need to travel with a contour pillow from now on, no exceptions.

In Salzburg, I accidentally left my full-sized pillow behind in the hotel (though got it on the way back from Sankt Johann the next day).

In Copenhagen, I didn’t have room in my carry-on for the pillow, and every pillow in the room was so bad that I ended up downstairs at the front desk at 2 AM, begging for any other kind of pillow. And despite this being a quite upscale hotel, they had ZERO other pillow types.

They promised to get me another one from a different hotel the next day. They finally did…and it was the SAME pillow squished into a pillowcase half the size, making it almost spherical.

So I ended up running out to Jysk the next day, which turns out to be a Danish company (who knew?), and grabbed a few nicer contour pillows for me and Charlie. We still have them here in Croatia as I type this.

Charlie flew with the pillows from Copenhagen to Dubrovnik, so I missed them for one night. But you know what works in a pinch if you’re like me? A rolled-up towel for your neck. That was the best out of a host of bad options.

The worst sushi ever in Podgorica. Well, the worst sushi ever that didn’t make us sick! How does a restaurant have photos of sushi on their menu yet prepare sushi that looks nothing like it?!

(Why eat sushi in Montenegro? After a few days of Balkan meat platters, you’ll be craving anything else.)

The Bay of Kotor follies. On our first day in Perast, I wanted to get photos of Budva and Sveti Stefan in the morning light. I headed out on the bus to Kotor first thing in the morning, having bought my bus ticket from Kotor to Sveti Stefan online in advance. That bus was packed like sardines.

When I got to the bus station, the line snaked around the corner. My bus showed up, I showed them my ticket, and they WOULD NOT LET ME ON because it wasn’t printed out (!!). Apparently you’re supposed to wait in that super-long line for the station to print it out for you.

I looked to get a cab to Budva. There are no ride-sharing apps in Montenegro, and the cabs quoted me 50 euros. Which is INSANE. When did Montenegro get this expensive?! On principle, I gave up and headed back to Perast to chill.

Missing my kittens a lot. This month we left them with two different live-in cat sitters, both of whom love them and they love, but I feel bad being away from them so much.

Murray and Lewis, two gray tabby cats with white bellies and paws, lying on the bed, facing each other.
The two best little kittens in the world.

Blog Posts of the Month

Yeah, not a lot of time to blog this month.

Solo Female Travel in Portland, Oregon — Is it Safe? — I invite guest writer Susan to write about her beloved town of Portland, and what makes it so awesome for solo women travelers!

Kate standing on a wooden dock on a still lake reflecting mountains, surrounded by wooden boats and bright kayaks.
Black Lake in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro.

Book Club This Month

Our next book club will on Sunday, August 13, at 7:00 PM ET. We will be reading In the Shadow of the Mountain by Peruvian author and adventurer Silvia Vasquez-Lavado.

“Endless ice. Thin air. The threat of dropping into nothingness thousands of feet below. This is the climb Silvia Vasquez-Lavado braves in her page-turning, pulse-raising memoir chronicling her journey to Mount Everest.

A Latina hero in the elite macho tech world of Silicon Valley, privately, she was hanging by a thread. Deep in the throes of alcoholism, hiding her sexuality from her family, and repressing the abuse she’d suffered as a child, she started climbing. Something about the brute force required for the ascent—the risk and spirit and sheer size of the mountains and death’s close proximity—woke her up. She then took her biggest pain as a survivor to the biggest mountain: Everest.

‘The Mother of the World,’ as it’s known in Nepal, allows few to reach her summit, but Silvia didn’t go alone. She gathered a group of young female survivors and led them to base camp alongside her. It was never easy. At times hair-raising, nerve-racking, and always challenging, Silvia remembers the acute anxiety of leading a group of novice climbers to Everest’s base, all the while coping with her own nerves of summiting. But, there were also moments of peace, joy, and healing with the strength of her fellow survivors and community propelling her forward.

In the Shadow of the Mountain is a remarkable story of heroism, one which awakens in all of us a lust for adventure, an appetite for risk, and faith in our own resilience.”

You can learn more about the book and buy it here.

You can sign up to attend the book club here. Hope to see you there!

Most Popular Reel on Instagram

GUYS, AFTER TWO MONTHS OF RECOMMITTING TO INSTAGRAM, I’M FINALLY GOING VIRAL!!! I just hit 2.3 million views on a single Reel (granted, that was August, so I’ll have to talk about that next month).

But the FIRST viral Reel was this month was my Reel about five wedding traditions we did NOT do. Glad to see how it’s been resonating. Do anything you like!!

What I Watched This Month

Okay, so And Just Like That is back. Yes, I’ve been a faithful watcher of this Sex and the City sequel, even though the first season was an absolute mess in lots of ways.

So far, season two has improved a LOT. From episode three onward, especially. Weird single-episode hookup arcs? Excellent. More meals with the original three, Anthony or Seema being the fourth? Great. Carrie and Che paired off as friends? I actually enjoy their chemistry together!

There are still a lot of problems, though. Too many characters. Weird writing decisions. But Charlotte and Harry are still as madly in love as ever. (And if this show ever breaks them up I WILL RIOT AT DAWN.)

Below Deck update: This month Charlie and I watched Below Deck Mediterranean Season Six. It was awhile before we could bring ourselves back to Captain Sandy after the Malia-Hannah-Maritime Law scandal.

This season was OBVIOUSLY meant to be a redemption arc for both Sandy and Malia. The verdict? I recognize how heavy-handed the producers were in making us like Malia again…and it worked. I think she’s a great leader. And it was SO refreshing to have there be no sexism from her male crew for once.

Captain Sandy? Still a narcissist, still a micromanager, still ignoring what she doesn’t want to see, still speaking in sound bites for her latest grift as a public speaker. “Oh, the second stew physically attacked several of you? Invest in her.” Fuck off, Sandy.

The rest of the season was…fine. They have one of the most evil crew members the franchise has ever seen, and some cringe-worthy situations (cooking without a chef the first night!).

So yes. I can’t wait to get back to the good vibes of Captain Glenn and Parsifal III. Though first — it’s time for OG Below Deck Season 10!

Copenhagen's Nyhavn wharf, with lots of brightly colored buildings along the water.
Copenhagen’s Nyhavn — the most photographed place in the city!

What I Listened To This Month

This month I listened to The Retrievals — a podcast from the New York Times. In 2020, a nurse from Yale Medical Center was arrested for stealing fentanyl from her IVF patients who were undergoing egg retrievals. She gave them saline instead, leaving the women in excruciating pain.

Yet even though this was happening over and over, NOBODY BELIEVED THE WOMEN. Everyone thought they were just too sensitive.

This podcast is about so many things — how we ignore women’s pain. How we, as women, feel like we are being unreasonable by asking for relief from our pain.

How large organizations blame problems on “one bad apple” instead of their systemic failures. How we should punish crimes stemming from addiction.

I highly recommend listening — especially if you, like me, enjoy the twists and turns of true crime but don’t want it to be about murder or sexual assault.

A tiny Croatian town, Cavtat, with lots of white stone orange roofed buildings set on a wooded peninsula surrounded by sea.
THE view of Cavtat — yet there’s no viewpoint. I had to hold my phone above someone’s fence to get this!

Coming Up in August 2023

I am currently typing this from Cavtat, Croatia. After our whirlwind week in Montenegro, we headed to Croatia — first time in Dubrovnik, then time in Cavtat, a lovely little city south of Dubrovnik that makes a much more chilled out alternative to the Pearl of the Adriatic.

But after that comes my BIG solo adventure of the year: Greenland. This destination has been on my list for quite some time, and I decided to bite the bullet and put down a deposit on an 11-day package tour six months ago.

This trip will take me primarily around Disko Bay — the popular town of Ilulissat, two nights at Eqi Glacier, two nights on Disko Island, plus time in Aasiaat and Oqaatsut — along with a stopover at the ice sheet in Kangerlussuaq.

This is the most remote place I’ve gone in quite some time, and I’m truly excited for the adventure that lies ahead. I can’t wait to show it with all of you.

I’ve also got two days in Copenhagen on each side of the trip as a buffer in case of any delays, so I’m back to the land of the tall people.

What are you up to this month? Share away!

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