Saturday, September 10, 2011

Intro: Family Mediterranean Cruise

After our last family trip to Hawaii, we brainstormed on ideas on where to go for our next family vacation and decided on a Mediterranean cruise on the Norwegian Epic. The timing worked out perfectly with the Lebaran holiday in Indonesia for my family.

Here was our itinerary:
Day 1-2: San Francisco-Barcelona
Day 3 AM: Barcelona City Tour - Pre Cruise
Day 3 PM: Norwegian Epic Cruise
Day 4: At Sea
Day 5: Livorno (Cinque Terre excursion)
Day 6: Rome (Rome city tour)
Day 7: Naples (Sorrento, Positano, Pompeii excursion)
Day 8: At Sea
Day 9: Palma de Mallorca
Day 10: Barcelona - Post Cruise
Day 11: Barcelona - San Francisco

This trip report is really large, so we've broken it into multiple sections.

We left for Barcelona on Friday, August 26. We were so thankful we avoided hurricane Irene. Had we left the next day, there would have been a good chance our flight got canceled.

We arrived in Barcelona and met my family in the arrival area. We prepaid for an airport transfer from a company called suntransfer, and saw a man with that sign. We approached him but he did not have our name on his list. There was another lady from the same company, and she also didn't have our name. Their English was horrible but we understood that they told us to wait. Well, we waited for over an hour and to make long story short, our guy had actually been waiting for a long time but we didn't see him. His sign was very unclear. Not a good way to start our vacation, hopefully this was the only hiccup. Anyway, we were just thankful we found our ride.

We got to the hotel around 10:30 am. Our rooms were not ready since it was still early, so we walked around the Las Ramblas area. Our hotel, Hotel Pulitzer, was located very close to Las Ramblas, so we were able to walk conveniently to La Boqueria (the main market) and various shopping areas!

In front of La Boqueria Market

The first thing we saw at the market was the colorful juices that lined the entrance, followed by various candies, spices, and dried/cured meat. The market was pretty good sized and was pretty crowded. We weren't looking for anything in particular so just roamed around.

Hanging Meat 
Colorful fruit juices

Afterwards we went across the street for tapas. We randomly chose this restaurant, and since it was located in major tourist area, the price was pretty steep. We got the croquettas, potatas bravas, and paella. The paella was HUGE. Food was ok, nothing special.

Patatas Bravas and Paella

We went back to our hotel to finally shower and rest after the long journey! It felt so good to clean up. Speaking of our hotel, we really liked the modern style of Hotel Pulitzer. The lobby area was beautiful with stylish furnishing. The rooms were a bit small (understandable since we were in Europe), but the bathroom was pretty good sized. The elevator was really unique which we had not seen before; it was an all glass elevator.

Hotel Pulitzer 
Love the clean, modern design 
Bar area
First floor area
The lobby area was very well maintained and looked pretty new. However, some parts of the hotel were a little tired (chipped wood on room floors, hallways could use some fresh carpet). But overall we thought the hotel was still in pretty good condition. The location was wonderful! Very close to Las Ramblas and Playa Catalunya. We enjoyed our stay at this hotel and would recommend it. The rate was pretty decent, too.

Hotel Room & Bathroom

Afterwards, we went out to shop. Zara, which is one of my most favorite clothing store is actually from Spain, so we checked it out. They were having some really good sales, with shirts from around 3 euros. Dan actually got more stuff here than me! Ha ha.

For dinner, we were determined to try one of the places that our friend recommended, so we went to a tapas restaurant called Cerveceria Catalana. The decor was very hip and modern, and the food display looked amazing. Since we went early (6 pm), we didn't have to wait for a table. Yay! Apparently most people in Spain do not eat dinner until 9 pm. We ordered so many things: Avocado salad, cod fish, filet, mini burgers, mini hot dogs, pork sandwich, fried mini squid, and fried Camembert. My most favorite item was the fried Camembert! It was basically a rectangular cut of camembert cheese, rolled in nuts, deep fried an then served with fruit jelly. AMAZING! Price was pretty reasonable and we were all happy with the food.

Cerveceria Catalana
Jamon, Pasta Salad
Fried camembert with jam!

After dinner, my family were all jet lagged and decided to call it a night. We weren't quite sleepy yet, so we hunted for the chocolate covered churros place. It was located in one of the smaller streets off Las Ramblas and was a little tricky to find, but we found it! Unfortunately it was late by the time we got there so we didn't get to try fresh churros (they had been sitting out for a while), but even then they were still pretty good. We figured we'd try and visit this place early next week when we make our return stop to Barcelona. 


  1. OMG.. so comprehensive!!! hahahaa... whoever wrote this blog could be a writer :P

  2. Ha ha. Thanks! I did most of the writing but Dan is the Editor in Chief! :)

  3. Agreed ..Barcelona had nothing special on the food scene ... the best part was the Gelatos on Las Ramblas.. my fave was hazelnut