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Go away with Katie Barberi

By Jae-Ha Kim

Tribune Media Services

March 20, 2012

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Born in Mexico and raised in the United States, actress-singer Katie Barberi fondly recalls a childhood where her family moved to dozens of cities in both countries to accommodate her parents' careers. "I loved it," says Barberi, 40. "I'm sure my love of travel is tied to all the different places we lived."

Thanks to her Mexican father and American mother, Barberi grew up speaking Spanish and English, an asset that served her well in the world of telenovelas. Her latest Telemundo series, "Corazon Valiente," films in Miami, where she lives. She also has a role in the Nickelodeon Latin American series, "Grachi."

"I love doing the work that I do, which lets me travel to so many interesting places," she says. "I get to work in Mexico, Argentina and Los Angeles, which is its own planet! I've lived in Colombia for three years working. I find travel to be very spiritual and it's really one of my favorite things in the world to do."

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Right now, it's New York. I love to go there and see theater. To me, there's no greater joy than seeing singers and actors live. I went with my mother for Thanksgiving. I like traveling with my Maltese. She brings her poodle. We went for long walks in Central Park.

Q. To someone who was going to New York, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?

A. I was staying in New York a while ago and was blown away because my friend who lives there had never been to Ellis Island! So we went there and saw the Statue of Liberty. I don't think people should not go see these things because they're touristy. You have to check out Chinatown and Wall Street. And if you love clothes, go to (costume designer) Patricia Field's boutique (http://www.patriciafield.com/) on the Bowery. She did all the clothes for "Sex and the City." There is so much stuff to see there!

Q. Do you dub your work for English-speaking countries?

A. It's interesting because the shows are dubbed for certain markets, like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. I never realized that. But I haven't been asked to dub my own voice yet. I need to find out about doing it though since I obviously can speak English very well. (Laughs.)

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. I really love Colombia. I've had some of the best food there — all types of international cuisine. There's an old walled city in Cartagena that's a little tourist town, but it's hip and fabulous. You travel with a horse-drawn carriage or just walk around. There are great restaurants, boutiques and a beautiful church. It's very romantic and old world. I also recommend Valle de Bravo in Mexico, which is a beautiful, picturesque town. They sell this type of white fish that you can only get there that literally melts in your mouth. I also love Patzcuaro in Mexico, where they make the most beautiful lace. People come from all over the world to get beautiful lace bedding.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?

A. I loved staying at the Helmsley Park Lane (http://www.helmsleyparklane.com/) in New York City because it's pet friendly. They were amazing to us and gave us a welcome package with dog toys, a dog dish and all kinds of little things. The staff was all amazing to my dog and wanted to take her for walks! I also have fond memories of the Palmer House (http://www.palmerhousehiltonhotel.com/) in Chicago. The first time I came to visit my boyfriend (actor Craig Hurley), I stayed there. It's one of the most beautiful hotels.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I have always wanted to go to Europe. I could've gone so many times, but I always waited to go with my dream man. Now I have him, so it's time to plan a trip! I want to see London and Paris and Prague and Brussels.

Q. When you think, does your brain go first to English or Spanish?

A. English is not my native language, but I was raised in the United States so it's my first language. My mother's American and I was raised here, so I think in English. But Spanish comes naturally, too.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. Sunglasses. I can't live without them because my eyes are very sensitive. My BlackBerry. A good book. ChapStick, a good lip liner and mascara.

(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)