Once again we decided to stay in the same hotel as our family after the cruise, especially since they will be in Athens 2 nights. We will be at the Divani Caravel Hotel, which seems to be a fairly nice hotel athough a little ways away from the main Plaka area. Discount hotel companies don’t seem to do too much business with the Caravel because every place we found showed the same price as the hotel website. We wound up booking through Travelocity. They say we’re getting a Superior Double room with a view for €136.17 a night, but naturally as soon as I entered my credit card information the confirmation no longer shows the words “superior,” “view,” or even “room,” so we’ll see what we get once we’re over there. By the way, I neglected to make a Piraeus to Hotel entry because in the end we’ll probably wind up taking a taxi there if we can’t get in with the paying passengers. Supposedly the metro runs from the port to the center of town, but I haven’t found anyone who could confirm it.
Ellen just did something that knocked my socks off. She wanted to let me know how much she appreciated the work I did in researching and reserving the cruise, so she got me a present! I’ve been wanting to replace the FRS radios we lost in a move 2 years ago, and she’s been quietly researching FRS and GMRS radios to find the best one. After consulting with my friends, she decided on the Motorola TalkAbout T7200. It’s on the high end, pricewise, but the deal was sealed when she realized we should be able to talk back and forth while I’m at work. That would be REALLY COOL. For the cruise, we’ll definitely be able to use them on the ship and in port to stay connected if we ever split up. Thanks Ellen, you really are a great wife!
Well, we finally got our cruise documents today! The TA sent them by FEDEX, and they got here Thursday while Ellen and I were at the Spanish AF Academy’s graduation ceremony. Although the note said they’d try back Friday before 2, we waited until 4:30 and they never came. Today we were just about to call when they came by at 1:45. Now we have the task of reading through the Shore Excursions book to decide what we’d like to do with the ship. Then we’ll pass that list on to the Pinkards to see what they have to say. We went through the debate about with the ship or not with the ship on our first cruise, and there are definitely advantages both ways. I’ve been around the world with the Air Force, and I know that sometimes the tours are cheaper and more interesting when you take care of things yourself, and sometimes they suck. The big thing for me is that I have done a LOT of searching, planning, querying, wondering, etc, and I’m done. D-U-N, done, I tells ya, so anybody who wants to research the stops and arrange for something other than the Orient Lines […]
Ellen and I have talked about doing a Mediterranean cruise, with or without friends and family, since we found out we were moving to Spain. Ted and Joelle thought it sounded like a great idea, and in the summer of 2002 we started looking at our options. We wanted to have a Spain departure so that they could come visit our house first, which really narrowed down the cruise options. Royal Caribbean has a 7-day cruise that starts and ends in Barcelona, but we were having trouble finding a good price. In November 2002, Joelle went to a travel agent and found out about Orient Cruise Lines. She was able to get a 7-day cruise from Barcelona, plus airfare, pre- and post-cruise hotel stays, and shipboard credit for less than the cruise-only portion of Royal Caribbean. The travel agent was kind enough to get us a similar deal on the cruise-only portion, and when all was said and done we paid about $3000 for the two of us. We’re booked in a cabin with a porthole on the lowest deck–room 3033 to be exact–but I’ve read that if the ship isn’t full we can expect a free upgrade. We originally […]
It doesn’t fit in anywhere chronologically, so before going any further I wanted to mention Fodor’s website at www.fodors.com. That site is full of information, and I consulted it about every destination on the trip. I found the forums very helpful, and usually received a reply within hours of posting. Check it out! Next: BED!
I’m not even going to try to cover all of the places I looked for a hotel in Barcelona–there are just too many of them! Being from the US, I started with one of my favorites, Expedia, but believe me you don’t want to stop there. If you’re using the web to shop for hotels then you probably have more time than money; put it to good use by searching all over creation. In our case, just when I was about fed-up with the myriad of choices for what will be less than a 12-hour stay in Barcelona Joelle emailed that she had her cruise documents and that they’d be staying at the Hotel Alexandra. That helped narrow things down since we decided to stay at the same hotel if possible. I started with the main site, www.hotel-alexandra.com and the parent company site at www.alexandra.activehotels.com/THE. Both gave a decent enough description of the hotel, but both said a reservation was not available. Not one to give up too easily, I searched for the hotel on Google and found plenty of places that allowed me to make reservations. Discount hotel rooms is a pretty big business judging by the number of […]
Anyone travelling to Barcelona needs to check out their official transport site at www.tmb.net. This site, which also can be viewed in English, allows you to type in starting and ending points, and it will calculate for you how to get from A-B using public transportation. We were able to find all of the hotels we considered, which allowed us to factor in travel time from the airport or train station. After settling on the Alexandra hotel (more to follow on it), we found that it was 12 minutes by Metro from the train station, but when we switched to the plane it was about 45 minutes using 2 different trains: a RENFE train from the airport to the train station, and then the metro to the hotel. We were ready to do this, but the last train from the airport leaves at 23:40 and the metro shuts down at midnight, so we’ll be taking a taxi this time. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I’ve never lived in a big city and am always impressed by easy-to-use metros; I’m disappointed we won’t be using it this time! Next: Alexandra Hotel
When we first decided on the cruise, we thought we’d be driving to Barcelona, but after talking with some friends we decided it wasn’t worth it. Apparently the tolls and the parking fees in Barcelona are high enough that it’s cheaper to leave the car at home. Our first choice was to fly from our local airport, the Murcia/San Javier Regional Airport (MJV), but it’s such a small place that almost all of the Iberia flights just go to Madrid. The website www.iberia.com wouldn’t even give me a price on a trip from MJV to BCN. Having already ruled out a bus, we decided to take the train. RENFE, Spain’s train company, has a very informative website that also allows ticket purchasing and can be viewed in English. My Spanish is ok, especially when I’m reading it, but when we’re talking about dinero it’s nice to confirm everything in my native tongue. So, checking the schedule from Balsicas (the closest station) to Barcelona, we found 1 train a day that leaves at 8:56 and arrives at 16:30. A first class ticket was €57 each for a total of €114. We were able to buy the tickets online, but since it […]
For as much information as I have in my head about this trip, I’m having such a hard time deciding how to start! I guess the best thing to do is give a general overview and then go from there! For anyone who might stumble across this without knowing who we are, Ellen and I live in Santiago de la Ribera, Spain, where I’m stationed at the Spanish Air Force Academy as an Exchange Instructor Pilot. You can find more info about us and where we live through the main site at www.tedandellen.com. This summer we are going on a 7-day cruise from Barcelona to Athens on Orient Cruise Lines with Ellen’s oldest sister Joelle and her husband Ted. (Joelle married Ted about 10 years before Ellen and I got married, so at family gatherings I’m always Ted #2). Joelle and Ted live in the US and will be flying into Barcelona and leaving from Athens. In addition to the cruise, Ellen and I will be spending 3 nights in Venice before returning to Spain. As the cruise is less than 3 weeks away, we’ve already done nearly all of the planning, but my intention is to post each step […]
Ellen and I are going on a big vacation from July 24th to August 6th, and here in these pages I’m planning to describe everything I can, from start to finish. I’ll be posting mainly about the technical parts of the trip, such as reservations, websites, prices, etc. The goal is to post the whole plan before we leave and then report on how everything went once we get back. At the same time, Ellen’s planning to keep her own journal of the trip, which is bound to be more descriptive and less about the travel specifics. Between the two we’re hoping to at least entertain ourselves, if no one else. Enjoy!