Monday, June 25, 2012

Interviews as Inspiration ~ Carlo Roberts

This is the second of a series of Interviews as Inspiration. I'm inviting people I admire; artists, authors, people I know, and people I don't. It should be fun! and hopefully inspirational for both you and me.

I've been going to Europe with Carlo Roberts. I teach watercolor as we walk along the French Riviera or on the shores of Lake Como, Italy. How in the world did this happen to me? One of my students, Patrice, who took a one day Sketching and Watercolor: Journal Style workshop with me a couple of years ago. She happened to tell Carlo about me in their mutual yoga class. Carlo called me, she lives in San Diego County, we immediately hit it off. We met for coffee and planned The Art Walk.  That's how my life seems to be working lately, and I love it! Now I want you to meet Carlo, and be inspired by the way she's manifested her life into doing what she loves.

carlo and Jane
Carlo Roberts and Jane LaFazio
Jane LaFazio:  Please start by telling us what you do. 
Carlo Roberts: I’m the founder of The Blue Walk – my unique walking vacations along the French Riviera, Italian coast, and the Greek Islands.
Carlo Roberts, on a location scouting trip
JL: The Blue Walk is genius. Describe what it is and where the name came from.
CR: We do half-day morning guided walks, Spring and Fall, in some of the most beautiful coastlines using a combination of coastal walking trails, seaside strolls, and city sidewalks. It’s not boot camp, no hiking boots or backpacks required; it was designed for people who have probably never done or thought about doing – walking trips. It’s such a “feel-good” vacation, and very exciting for me to be able to share this experience with so many wonderful people that have joined us.
It’s designed around how I personally would want a vacation, so we stay in the same hotel all week (unpack once, make yourself at home), and we include an unlimited train pass along the coast so you can explore the French Riviera at your leisure. It works so well on the Riviera, as the towns are gorgeous, varied, and close enough together, so you don’t need to carry much with you.
Now the name came from a trip I’d heard about years ago in Turkey called the Blue Trip – wooden sailing ships leisurely going along the Turkish coast. I always loved that name. When I was creating my walking tours, it was always about walking along the gorgeous Blue Mediterranean coast, so the name “The Blue Walk” came to me instantly.

Walking The Blue Walk (photo by Carlo Roberts)
JL: When did you come up with the idea and how did you make it happen? 
CR: During our two-week April 2000 vacation in France, I wanted to really see every inch of the Riviera, but didn’t want to just sit in a hotel for two weeks. I said to myself, “Hey, why don’t I just walk to Italy…”  And I did. Following the coastline every step of the way.
200 miles and 13 days later, it was one of the most extraordinary things I’d ever done. Absolutely spectacular. And it turned out to be life changing.
Despite walking through tunnels, scrambling onto highways, along train tracks, and a flash flood my second day out; I loved every second of it. And never need to do that again.
But being in the travel business, I thought that one of these days, I was going to pick the best six little half-day walks, and string them together into a one-week walking vacation that almost anyone could do.
Four years later, in 2004, I was working on cruise ships on the Mediterranean, and every time we stopped on the Riviera, I’d do a coastal walk around Cap Ferrat. Eventually other friends on board asked to join me when we docked, and they loved it too. So I decided it was time to create the company,
I had kept a journal throughout the walk, so it was easy to go back and pick the best walks. Each time we docked on the Riviera, I would meet with different hotels to set up the program. By the end of 2004, when I jumped ship and joined the “land people” again, I had every detail worked out, having redone the walks, had the hotel contract, and it was good to go.
But not to be. For several reasons, the timing wasn’t right. And for the next seven years, The Blue Walk quietly tapped me on the shoulder as the files sat in the top of my closet.
Jan 1, 2011, I woke up New Year’s morning, meditated on the upcoming year, and said, “If not now, when?”, I jumped up, got the files out of the closet, contacted the same hotel, flew back there to redo the walks, finalize the program, and Voilà, The Blue Walk was finally born. 

Cap Martin Sentier, looking to Monaco. On The Blue Walk (photo by Carlo Roberts)  
JL:  Travel is your passion, where do you think it came from?
CR:  As soon as I finished the Travel School in 1975, and was able to choose my first vacation, I chose the Greek Islands. And I have been going back, nearly every year since 
(30+ times)
The other major influence was my maternal grandparents, who loved to cruise every year. When little, I’d sleep over on weekends occasionally. I remember lying in my grandmother’s big bed - she’d be watching the Tonight Show, and I’d be staring at her walls which were covered, every inch, with menus from every ship they’d been on, and pictures of them at all the captain’s tables, photos of their travels... 
Carlo Roberts, researching Greece

JL: You love to walk? Are you the marathon type or the strolling type?
CR: I’m not sure when, or why, this walking thing started. It just has become a big part of my life. I’ve never been a runner or a marathon type.  I’m more a sea-level kinda girl – give me a seaside stroll any day of the week. For me, it’s the meditative nature of walking along large bodies of water, that I love. And the conversations that you get into while walking.

Entering Villefranche, on The Blue Walk (photo by Carlo Roberts) 
JL: Describe your favorite walk in the world.
CR: Tuesdays on The Blue Walk on the French Riviera. Really!
It’s the day we do “Gorgeous, Gorgeous”; the walk around Cap Ferrat. I never tire of it, and am still in awe every time I walk it. If you told me I had one walk left to do in my life, that’s the one. 

Cap Ferrat path. French Riviera. The Blue Walk (photo by Carlo Roberts)   

JL: You’ve been in the travel industry for years… Tell us about your travel careers
CR: Just about everything ranging from Travel Agent, Travel Wholesaler, Tour Guide, Private Corporate Travel Agent in London; worked for the Airlines, the Cruise Lines, for hotels in Europe and the US, Professor of Hospitality Management in a San Diego Travel School….. to Supervisor in the Consumer Protection Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, handling all Travel Company Related complaints.
And now, the Grand Fromage of The Blue Walk and owner of my own travel agency. It took me decades to create the perfect job for myself. I don’t think there’s ever been anything I’m better suited for, or that’s better suited for me. It feels like all these experiences have led me to this, and I couldn’t be happier about it. And this time, the timing was right.

The Blue Walk recent participants (photo by Carlo Roberts)

JL: What is it with you and France? You’re fluent in French? Where did you learn it? 
CR: Good question! Ever since I was little, I wanted to live in France. Hard to say why. I even wrote to the French Embassy when I was young to see what you had to do to live there. Right out of High School I went to Travel School because I knew that travel was what I really wanted to do. The travel industry has been my passion and my profession for most of my life. 
Then I began college at the age of 41, majoring in International Relations (my friend pointed out that I only did that because “International Travel” wasn’t a major.) But I decided that if I’m going to put myself through school at this age, I’m getting my year abroad! So of course, it was France, and that was where this all began. 
Yes, I do speak French. Badly. I’m terrible with languages and it’s only through sheer determination that I speak French at all, but I get by fine these days. 
Nice, France (photo by Carlo Roberts)
JL: What would your advice be to someone who wanted to start a similar venture?
CR: When I hit 50, I gave myself the gift of going to Bali for a month for a personal meditation retreat (and just for the record, that was the year before Eat, Pray, Love came out.)
I wanted to reflect on the past 50 years, and think about what I wanted to do for the next 50. It was really a gift of time – which we don’t often do - to stop and take the chance to reflect. I was armed with journals, candles, incense, paper and nice pens, inspirational books, and a great sense of appreciation, openness and motivation.
It was a transitional time in my life, and being a list person, I made lists of concepts of what I wanted in a career, what I wanted in a place to live, what I wanted to bring into my life.
When it came to careers, I wrote that I did not want my job to be separate from my life. I wanted what I “did” to be a part of who I was, and it would be something that I’d want to do, day and night, 24/7, whether I was paid for it or not.
carlo and jane
Carlo Roberts and Jane LaFazio, in Nice, France
JL: Future plans and dreams? For yourself and your Blue Walk
CR: I have been humbled by the response I have had to my walking tours, and the wonderful people that I’ve met that have joined me. And I just want to be able to continue sharing it with others.
The first year is was just France. That was the plan. Then, so many people that do my walks want to do “something else, as long as they’re already over there”. Some want Paris, some want River or Mediterranean cruises, and the rest want Italy. I had so many requests for Italy that I added it this year (and next). And it’s gotten a great response. And then the opportunity for walking trips in Greece came along.  
Future plans? It’s really more fun, fulfilling, and exciting than I could have hoped for already. I have no plans at the moment other than keep perfecting and enjoying my Blue Walks.  
Walking trail in Amorgos, Greece 
More week long workshops are scheduled! Sketching and Watercolor: Journal Style. Here's Carlo Roberts contact info.

Links to my other Interviews as Inspiration:

Rachelle Archer, expressive arts therapist at a school for homeless
Cas Holmes, textile artist
Mary Beth Shaw, artist and Stencil Girl Products founder
Marcia Derse, textile designer
Lesley Riley, artist and author
Danny Gregory, artist and author
Judy Reeves, writer
Carlo Roberts, The Blue Walk travel company founder
Jane Powell, Random Arts owner 


  1. I love this article---now I have to go back and read the other interviews on people crafting careers doing what they love. You are certainly an inspiration and now Carlos is as well. I can't wait to meet her and spend time with everyone on the Art Walk in September!

  2. You are going to have such a great walk Jane! We have stayed in Nice and driven along that walk - the area around Cap Ferrat is just phenomenal! I wish I could go too! ;-)))


  3. WOW! Total inspiration! Love it! Ever since we did a long Walking Tour ~ just us & the Guide on Nantucket ~ aside from bicycling, I'm convinced that walking allows for the most intimate knowledge of any area ~ Carlo's has THE BEST Travel Company! International walking trips~ Combined with creating Jane LaFazio inspired art = Art Walk in September! Such a serendipitous connection* Love, Elizabeth

  4. J'ai vécu de longues année à Port-Grimaud dans le var près de Saint-Tropez et j'ai fait de longues promenades le long de la côte...
    Merci pour l'ensembles de vos merveilleuses photos.
    Début septembre je me trouverai pour une semaine à Fayence, pas très loin de Nice et Sant-Paul de Vence pour une exposition de peinture. Bienvenue à vous...

    Gros bisous à vous...

  5. This goes on my bucket list! What a fabulous opportunity for you.

  6. Dear Jane,

    Thank you so much for this interview, and I'm quite humbled to be included in your list.

    I believe there are no accidents, and when you're following the right path for yourself, things magically slip into place. That has been my experience creating The Blue Walk.

    And as a testament to that: the fact that over a year ago, a stranger sitting on the yoga mat next to me and I got into a conversation, and she pretty much just stopped in the middle and said, "I don't know why, but there's an amazing artist, Jane LaFazio, that you have to connect with. Something about your energy, and her energy....".

    And I did, and she was right, and what a lucky day that was for me.

    Thank you Jane, I can't wait for our Art Walk this September!

    A huge hug,


  7. I have enjoyed your interview with Carlo immensely, she is an inspiration to those of us forging a path similar to hers, mine began with a sabbatical to Europe in January of this year and has continued with starting Personal Travel Hosting in Tuscany! After the sabbatical through Switzerland, France and Italy, I returned to Florida, sold the house, furniture, car, said goodbye to friends and grown daughters and hit the airways to Tuscany! Thanks so much for your writing skills! Cheryl

  8. Cheryl, good for you!

    What a brave thing, and what a gift to yourself.

    Keep up the great work, and maybe our paths will cross over there one day!

    My best to you,


  9. So inspiring and giving me the right "push" to follow my heart! Thank you!! Sweet regards, Marian

  10. I've had a really busy summer so I just read this interview with Carlo and I am so happy to know a little more about her. Talk about following your bliss. I feel so lucky to be heading to France in September for the Blue/Art Walk...all my favorite things wrapped up in one week. See you soon, Jane.

  11. I've had a really busy summer so I just read this interview with Carlo and I am so happy to know a little more about her. Talk about following your bliss. I feel so lucky to be heading to France in September for the Blue/Art Walk...all my favorite things wrapped up in one week. See you soon, Jane.


Thanks so much for visiting!

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