AK Monthly Recap: March 2024

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This was the largest journey month I’ve had since we acquired again from our honeymoon! Shoulder season is at all times the very best season for exploring and analysis, and March was the right time for a visit again to Italy.

Let’s check out March 2024!

Kate taking a selfie in front of a window displaying the big Florence Duomo, surrounded by orange-roofed buildings.
Enjoying the view from the Palazzo Vecchio’s Arnolfo Tower!

Destinations Visited

  • Prague, Křivoklát, and Beroun, Czech Republic
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Pisa, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Rome, and Tivoli, Italy
The skyline of Siena, a city of brown buildings and roofs, and a big piazza with a tall brick tower in the middle.
Siena, Italy, which is NOT within the guide — too standard! Other cities in Tuscany are, although!

New Free Italy Guide

This month I launched a model new e book: 23 Offbeat Places to Visit in Italy. One of my passions helps vacationers get off the crushed path in Italy, and uncover plenty of cities that don’t have the loopy crowds of Florence or Venice or Positano.

This guide has mini-guides to 23 offbeat locations in 17 areas of Italy, in addition to info on touring Italy and a few of my favourite journey ideas. And I really like the “Go here, not there” part. You THINK you need the Amalfi Coast, however you ACTUALLY need Tropea!

You can join it right here, and it’s free! I hope it evokes you to journey extra deeply in Italy!

The city skyline of Florence with its Duomo, towers, and the green Arno River, underneath a cloudy sky.
It was so good to be again in Florence once more.

Highlights

An superior, super-fun return to Florence and Rome. I deliberate 5 days in Florence and 6 days in Rome to do a ton of analysis and pictures so I can develop my Italy content material in two of the preferred Italian locations.

First off — it was March and each cities had been SWAMPED with vacationer crowds. There’s nearly no low season in Florence and Rome anymore, and it is best to know that earlier than you guide your journey!

Aside from that, it felt so good to do a protracted, in-depth, solo keep in Florence for the primary time since my semester overseas, 20 years in the past. I’ve been again to Florence just a few occasions over the past 20 years, however this was the primary time I felt like I had the time and house to essentially see what Florence means to me now.

And I did EVERYTHING (besides the Pitti Palace and the Galileo Museum). I climbed all of the towers, visited tons of museums, and did a pleasant day journey to Siena and San Gimignano with Walks, which was comped.

Siena is someplace I’ve visited earlier than, however I’ve by no means been contained in the church — however I went this time and I used to be BLOWN AWAY. A maximalist masterpiece stuffed with a lot decor and colour and artwork, it’s now certainly one of my favourite church buildings in Italy (although I nonetheless love Parma’s cathedral). Make certain you get the cathedral ticket that permits you to climb the museum’s tower, too.

The tiny walled town of San Gimignano, surrounded by green Tuscan hills on all sides.
San Gimiginano from above.

San Gimignano was a brand new spot for me, and it’s a very fairly little Tuscan city — although it seems prefer it exists completely for tourism. I didn’t see a single enterprise catering to locals. Climbing the primary tower was value it, too.

Next up was Rome, and Charlie met me there for his birthday after just a few days. One of the massive highlights was the Galleria Borghese, which I’ve wished to go to for many years. Seeing Bernini’s sculptures in actual life for the primary time was SO transferring.

The greatest spotlight of all was Walks’s Key Master’s Tour of the Vatican Museums, opening the museums for the day at 6:00 AM. This was additionally comped (by way of Charlie, not me), and it’s an EXPENSIVE tour, however holy shit — attending to be alone within the Vatican Museums along with your tour group and information? Watching the lights activate for the day? Getting an opportunity to open every door?! Getting quiet time within the Sistine Chapel???

This is likely one of the finest issues I’ve EVER completed in Italy, and I’ll keep in mind it ceaselessly. It is one probably the most once-in-a-lifetime actions I’ve ever completed whereas touring. I requested our information if Charlie might open the door to the Sistine Chapel, because it was his birthday, and he cherished getting to do this.

Beyond that, we loved tons extra spots in Rome and did a go to to Villa d’Este in Tivoli.

St. Peter's Basilica in the far distance, with an orange sunset lighting up behind it.
Sunset from Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome — particularly value it in March, when the solar units earlier than it closes for the day!

Good occasions at ITB in Berlin. ITB is the world’s largest journey present, and I really haven’t been there since 2013, regardless of residing solely 4.5 hours away by prepare. I went to some networking occasions, acquired to see tons of my pals, and the Berlin climate was INCREDIBLE — shiny blue skies each day! That by no means occurs in March!

Even so, I’m fairly certain that I received’t be returning to ITB subsequent 12 months. Not fairly sufficient worth to justify the journey, even when it’s so shut by.

Visiting among the finest Easter markets within the Czech Republic. Did you understand that there are Easter markets within the Czech Republic, too? And they happen in the identical spots the place Christmas markets happen, together with on Old Town Square in Prague.

Charlie and I visited Křivoklát Castle within the tiny city of Křivoklát, 90 minutes from Prague. It was such a enjoyable market, with plenty of meals, musical performances, and all types of springy issues on the market, together with superbly painted eggs.

A Czech castle in the background, and in the foreground is a courtyard covered with stands at an Easter Market.

Challenges

Illness hitting onerous. I acquired sick in February and it lasted into March. By the time I acquired to Berlin, I felt completely higher, although I masked at my networking occasion to be on the safer aspect. Then it hit AGAIN after coming dwelling, a mixture of tummy stuff and chilly stuff and it even changed into bronchitis for the primary time in my life. Glad THAT’S over.

Getting rejected for my license. After passing my driver’s check method again in November, I needed to wait just a few months for my residency to course of (there have been issues that I received’t go into right here, however it was primarily a paperwork problem). Paperwork settled and residency card in hand, I went to the workplace to get my license, loaded with each piece of paperwork I might consider to show I stay right here.

And…rejected! They wished yet one more particular kind from the Ministry of the Interior. So again I went to choose it up, and went again to the license workplace, and this time it labored!! I can choose up my actual license on April 17.

Florence's Duomo cathedral, shot from the bell tower nearby, so it looks like a close-up.

A little bit of a catastrophe in Florence. I had simply sufficient time to {photograph} the view from the Boboli Gardens and Bardini Gardens, then come again to the Palazzo Vecchio for my appointment to climb the Arnolfo Tower (as you’ll be able to inform, I used to be photographing all of the views).

Italy is disorganized and sometimes a bit misogynistic, and this story is an ideal instance of that: I noticed an indication saying the underside exit of the Bardini Gardens (nearer to the Palazzo Vecchio) was closed till March 15. Perfect, I believed — it was March 19.

Then I acquired to the exit and no one was there. There WERE just a few folks on a patio (technically exterior the backyard) uphill from the exit, and once I requested them if there was an exit, the person insisted that an individual was there. I stored saying no, there wasn’t, and he walked with me to the exit and was shocked that no one was there. Dude, I wasn’t mendacity.

I begged them to let me exit by way of their patio. I used to be going to be late for my tower climb and I must climb all the way in which uphill by way of the backyard to get to the opposite, further-away exit. They refused. “I’m literally here,” I instructed them. “Just let me walk through your door!” They wouldn’t.

Fine. I climbed all the way in which uphill and drenched in sweat, I went out the primary entrance (after rapidly ranting “Oggi è diciannove marzo! Il segno, è chiuso al quindici marzo! Perché? Perché il segno oggi???” to the bemused entrance desk folks) and ran the entire method downhill and throughout the Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzo Vecchio.

I made it there with ONE MINUTE TO SPARE. And…seems I had booked the fallacious ticket. I booked the museum, not the Arnolfo Tower. AHHHHHHHHHH. I booked a ticket for the next morning (I suppose I’d be climbing two towers in a row!) and drowned my sorrows in a gelato.

Berlin buildings and its TV tower underneath a bright blue sky.
Blue skies in Berlin in MARCH? What is happening??

And…there was nearly an incident on the way in which again from Berlin. Back in 2010 once I was planning for my first journey to Southeast Asia, I visited a journey physician to get vaccines and speak about meds to convey. She really useful Imodium, however instructed me that it’s more healthy to let diarrhea occur, and solely take it if I needed to get on a protracted bus journey.

Well…I acquired hit with main gastrointestinal misery on my ultimate day in Berlin, the run-into-a-random-restaurant-and-find-the-toilet type of misery. I used to be supposed to come back again by prepare, however there was a prepare strike, so I had no selection however to take a 4.5-hour bus journey.

It took practically 14 years for that physician’s recommendation to come back into play — however I ended up at a pharmacy asking for Imodium, and including, “It’s because I have a long bus ride.” (And it labored. Phew.)

Murray and Lewis, two gray tabby cats with white bellies and white paws, curled up on a white bedspread.
Murray and Lewis, sleepy and cute as at all times.

Blog Posts of the Month

32+ Fun Things to Do in Buenos Aires, Argentina — Buenos Aires is HUUUUUGE and calls for a number of days of your time to see it correctly. This is how it is best to spend your time.

15 Best Day Trips from Prague (in keeping with a neighborhood!) — My picks for the very best methods to spend a time out and about from Prague. Everything from cool cities to spa cities to mountaineering locations!

KAte and Charlie taking a smiling selfie in front of fountains at an Italian villa.
Enjoying the fountains and gardens at Villa d’Este in Tivoli.

Book Club This Month

Our subsequent guide membership will happen on Sunday, May 19, 2024 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. Note that that is NOT Mother’s Day; that’s the week earlier than. We can be studying the novel Family Lore by Dominican American writer Elizabeth Acevedo.

“Flor has a present: she will be able to predict, to the day, when somebody will die. So when she decides she desires a residing wake—a celebration to convey her household and neighborhood collectively to rejoice the lengthy life she’s led—her sisters are stunned. Has Flor foreseen her personal dying, or another person’s? Does she produce other motives? She refuses to inform her sisters, Matilde, Pastora, and Camila.

But Flor isn’t the one individual with secrets and techniques: her sisters are hiding issues, too. And the following era, cousins Ona and Yadi, face tumult of their very own.

Spanning the three days previous to the wake, Family Lore traces the lives of every of the Marte ladies, weaving collectively previous and current, Santo Domingo and New York City. Told with Elizabeth Acevedo’s inimitable and incandescent voice, that is an indelible portrait of sisters and cousins, aunts and nieces—one household’s journey by way of their historical past, serving to them higher navigate all that’s to come back.”

You can enroll right here. It’s free and open to all (although I’m now maxed out at 25 members as a result of I don’t need to pay for Eventbrite — we by no means have that many, although). Hope to see you there!

Most Popular Reel on Instagram

After a while off, I’ve dived again into being rather more lively on Instagram. I made a reel from Florence that did notably properly — all about Michelangelo’s finest and laughably worst sculptures!

You can comply with me on Instagram at @adventurouskate. I’d love so that you can comply with me — I’m attempting to do extra cool stuff in that house!

What I Watched This Month

In March, I primarily caught up on the ultimate season of The Crown. And truthfully, I’ve actually loved The Crown, particularly the episodes that train me about occasions in British historical past I knew nothing about (just like the landslide at Aberfan, and the time when the fog overwhelmed London), however I feel they misplaced the plot within the ultimate season.

The Crown has at all times had fairly a little bit of fiction thrown into it, however the ultimate season went off the rails with these wild fantasy sequences. And it was method, method too sympathetic to Charles. It looks like this collection ended with a particular agenda. Anyone agree?

Beyond that — I completed watching all of the Oscar films. What an amazing 12 months for movies.

The Roman Forum, with acres of Roman ruins, in the middle of the city.
So many ruins within the coronary heart of Rome!

What I Read This Month

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski (2019) — Why do ladies expertise burnout in another way to males? That’s what this guide solutions. It’s an in-depth take a look at how stress manifests in ladies, and what we have to do to actually recuperate.

There are so many medical research which have by no means been utilized to ladies. The motive? Menstrual cycles might have an effect on the outcomes. How ridiculous is that this?! We’re half the inhabitants!! That’s why I at all times love diving in to analysis on ladies particularly, and the way issues differ for us medically.

I extremely suggest this guide for all ladies. Too a lot good info in it.

Two O’Clock on a Tuesday on the Trevi Fountain by Helene Sula (2024) — In this memoir, Helene was residing a typical 9-5 life in Texas together with her husband and canines, however dreaming of touring the world. But would there be a method for all of them to maneuver to Europe, preserve the snug elements of their life-style, and switch it into an enormous journey journey? There can be, and that is the story.

Helene is a buddy of mine, and I’m so glad for her success! If you’re on the lookout for a how-to-move-abroad information, you received’t discover it right here — however the guide is extra of a reminder of WHY we journey. It’s lined with experiences of her life in Heidelberg, Germany, in addition to throughout Europe, and the moments that present us there may be extra on the market than what the standard American life-style has to supply.

And in case you’re on the lookout for journey inspiration however you may have a partner or pets — this reveals that you just don’t must go it alone, like most memoirs, however you can convey your associate and fur infants with you.

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung (2018) — Nicole Chung was positioned for adoption as a child by her Korean dad and mom residing in Seattle. She was adopted by white dad and mom and raised in a small city in Oregon, the place she by no means felt like she slot in. This guide is about how she started the seek for her delivery dad and mom as her first little one was about to be born.

I’ve come throughout Nicole on Twitter loads, and he or she’s change into a serious voice for transracial adoptees. This guide delves into the 1000’s of feelings that come out of adoption, and discovering your delivery household as an grownup. It’s not a clear-cut story of happiness; it’s sophisticated and layered and I’m certain it’s going to evolve however stay sophisticated for her ceaselessly. This is a good guide to learn to know life after adoption a bit extra.

And I gave up on a guide that I actually wished to learn — Chain Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. I began it as an audiobook however discovered it actually tough to comply with, so I began the precise guide…and whereas it was simpler to comply with, I simply couldn’t get into it.

View of Prague's skyline, with cathedrals sticking above the orange roofs, and lots of trees with white cherry blossoms.

Coming Up in April 2024

Spring is my absolute favourite time of 12 months in Prague — particularly April and May. I really like the climate, the flowers, and the great feeling of with the ability to spend time exterior after spending a lot time away.

So these previous couple of years, I’ve tried to reduce my travels exterior Prague throughout this season. Minimize, by my requirements, anyway, that’s.

I’ve two super-quick worldwide excursions: first, I’ll be touring to Berlin to see writer Elizabeth Gilbert communicate (and I booked a VIP meet-and-greet together with her, too!). I don’t need to keep in a single day, so I’m taking the bus out and in (and getting again to Prague at 4 AM or so…)

For the second, I’ve been nominated for Blogger of the Year on the TravMedia Awards in London. I’ll be doing a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it journey the place I’ll be flying in, attending the awards, staying over, and flying again.

Toward the tip of the month, Charlie and I are going to France for 5 days! Our pals purchased a home within the French countryside, and we’ll be visiting them. Because they’re in a reasonably distant space, we determined so as to add on just a few days within the Loire Valley beforehand, and we can be staying within the city of Amboise.

Charlie and I’ve each wished to discover France in additional depth recently (you guys understand how I at all times, at all times appear to finish up in Paris), so we’re excited to go to these new areas.

And one other huge factor: Charlie and I’ll rejoice our one-year anniversary on April 28, and on that date, I’ll change into eligible for everlasting residency within the Czech Republic. Next huge venture!

Any plans for April? Share away!



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