Tag Archives: France

Is it me or Spain?

Kelly E. Carter Lucy Carter Madrid

Kelly E. Carter and Lucy Carter in Madrid

Spain is one of those places that I can’t quite figure out. Most people love the country but I don’t. Someone tell me what I am for I know it is something.

My first trip to Spain was in 2004 when I was dispatched to Madrid by US Weekly magazine. Ben Affleck was in Madrid and happened to be in the midst of ending his inexplicable relationship with Jennifer Lopez. I was asked to get a comment from him and gladly obliged since it meant going to Spain, a country that everyone just seems to love.

I packed a change of clothes and off Lucy and I went in search of Ben. The assignment was only for one day and after I finished I decided, since it was a Friday, to go to Barcelona for the weekend. I had heard so much about Barna, as the locals call it, that I just had to experience it for myself. Although I enjoyed the tour around the city from atop a double decker bus and the popular tapas joint Cal Pep and drinking Claras, I wasn’t impressed.

Hoping for a different experience this time, I arranged for a three-day stay in Madrid before heading south for my spa assignment on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. My mission: to fall in love with Madrid. I was blown away by the elegance of the Hotel Villa Magna, where Lucy and I stayed in a luxurious Villa Magna Suite suite that I could live in forever. And the neighborhood had every designer store imaginable. A shopper’s dream! A visit to the Prado museum with a friend and her beau, who coincidentally were visiting from Germany, was educational and enjoyable. And I thoroughly enjoyed the Mandarin restaurant Tse Tang in the courtyard of Hotel Villa Magna so much that I ate there twice.

Yet there was still something missing. What could it be? Warmth, perhaps? Spaniards are wonderful people once you get to know them but as strangers I find that they keep their distance, don’t make eye contact and certainly don’t say “Buenos dias,” in the way that Italians greet people they don’t know with “buon giorno” when you pass them on the street. Catch a Parisian on a good day and even those snooty, chic folks will even say “Bon jour,” to a stranger.

But not the Spaniards. I discussed this topic with an American family that I met my final night in Madrid. I struck up a conversation first with the husband as we all hung out in the hotel bar watching a soccer game none of us cared about. While the patrons in the jam-packed bar rooted for Real Madrid to beat Barcelona and sang after their team won, I couldn’t help but note how the Spanish expressed tremendous passion when it came to futbol. Then why can’t they treat strangers the same way?

Or maybe it’s just me they don’t. I’m not going to give up on you Spain. I know there’s a chance for us to have a relationship at some point. When you’re ready, let me know and I’ll be back.

Hotel Villa Magna Madrid

Villa Magna Suite at the Hotel Villa Magna Suite in Madrid.

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Filed under Italy, Travel

Now that The Jet Set Pets has launched

I can’t believe that it’s been five months since I’ve updated this Eat, Drink and Pray for Love blog! Well, I have a good reason for neglecting my personal ramblings: my pet project, literally, The Jet Set Pets.

Finally, after 13 hard months, The Jet Set Pets finally launched in March. I don’t know which was more challenging: delivering the manuscript for Come to Win or building a website. Just like the hard work Venus Williams, the publisher Amistad (an imprint of Harper  Collins) and I put into Come to Win helped the book become a New York Times bestseller, I’m convinced that I have an award-winning site that wouldn’t have been possible without my biz partner/marketing guru Regina DiMartino and the rest of the terrific team.

If you haven’t checked out The Jet Set Pets yet, please do. And if you have visited, please return for the latest information for pampered pets on the go and share the link with others. The site is not only beautiful thanks to a clever icon from talented graphic artist Kimb Manson and dazzling illustration from the fabulous Marina Rankovic but functional and informative due to the brilliance of web developer Clint Crisher, who is as creative (it was his idea to perch me on the wing of the plane in the illustration) as he is on top of the latest in web design.

I know this reads like I’m delivering an acceptance speech — and I haven’t won anything. But I am super proud of the site, which has something for every pet lover whether your furry friend travels first class or economy, by Ferrari or bus or to St. Tropez or the local dog park. An abundance of pet-friendly travel information awaits but there’s also a Community section so pets can have virtual play dates in the Chat Room, a Forum for pet lovers to share their thoughts and a Directory that allows businesses to reach consumers and which gives back by donating part of its revenue to charities.

In time, I would like to start The Jet Set Pets Foundation to provide free and reduced-rate veterinarian services to the financially challenged.

But first, I have to continue delivering content essential to pet lovers and presented in a user-friendly way. Feel free to send comments and make suggestions on the site.

Now that The Jet Set Pets is off the ground, I hope to find time to update this blog on a regular basis once again. I love writing in the first person as much as I take delight in reading how much you enjoy my ramblings. Few editors allow me to write in the first person, my favorite style.

My pooch Lucy and I jet off to Spain on Wednesday then we’re on to France, followed by Italy, our adopted country and former residence. (I can taste the Bellinis now.) I’m sure we’ll have our usual exciting adventures, which I’ll write about in my (hopefully) usual witty fashion on this blog beginning later this week.

Check back for frequent posts, or better yet, subscribe so the posts are delivered right to your Inbox.

Hasta luego!

À tout à l’heure!

A presto!

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Filed under Books, Italy, Travel

Next time I’ll ignore the little man

I’m minding my business, wearing a pink Betty Boop tank top, Levis jean mini-skirt and Target flip-flops, waiting for my take-out lunch at Viva Fresh, anxious for my first Mexican food and Bud Light Lime in several weeks due to my travels to Italy, France and Monaco. A short white man, 60ish I suppose, approaches me and says, “You’re so tall and I’m so short. How tall are you, 6-foot-2?”

“No, 6-foot-1.”

I stare down on his pink scalp and make the mistake of asking him how tall he is as I try to pass the time while waiting for my food and the U.S. World Cup team to score against Ghana.

“5-foot-4,” he says, obviously pleased that I didn’t tell him to go f&^* himself.  “I used to be 5-foot-7 but you shrink as you get older.”

“So I guess I’ll end up 5-foot-10 at some point,” I say with a laugh.

Then he tells me that he dates a sister and that she’s out of town. I remind him of her, he says.

“Oh, is she 6-foot-1?” I ask.

“No, but she’s a sista,” he says.

As if I hadn’t heard him the first time. Now it was time to ignore him and turn away, as I should have done in the first place.

I’m sure the Black girlfriend does not exist. It was the little man’s way of letting me know he’s available and open to Black women should I decide to step down to his level.  Or am I just jumping to conclusions?

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Filed under Dating, Dining, Italy, race, Sports