Our fourth port on the Norwegian Epic 7 night Mediterranean Cruise was Barcelona, Spain. This was also the main port of embarkation and deparkation for the majority of the guests on board. We weren’t really sure how it would affect those of us who were not disembarking that morning, but we quickly found out as soon as we stepped foot on land. It was like a zoo out there with thousands of people and their luggages all trying to get a taxi to town or to the airport.
Because Barcelona’s cruise terminal is so close to central Barcelona, I did not arrange any transportation for us at all. I had booked a local tour via withlocals.com and we were suppose to meet at La Rambla to begin our tour there. In my research for the trip, it would be a short and inexpensive taxi ride from the terminal to La Rambla, but I had neglected to find out ahead of time just how crazy the taxi lines would be on debarkation day!
We stood in the taxi line anyway in the beginning, but when it failed to move quickly, we tried to explore other options. We were approached by some private drivers, but their quote was so ridiculously high we said no. Uber was still an option at the time, but after a few tries without any match, we gave up on that too. Finally, we decided to just walk the 1 mile by foot. According to Google Maps, it would only take 20 minutes, but because my mom had a bad hip, we were trying to minimize her walking as much as possible.
The walk from the terminal to La Rambla was not too difficult. We had to cross a bridge, but there was a pedestrian walkway, which made it easier. En route to La Rambla, there was also a lot of beautiful architecture to see, and many picturesque spots.
Of the 3 tours that we booked on withlocals.com for this trip, our guide (Tomas L) for Barcelona was probably the worst. Not only did he show up late to the meeting spot, but he arrived with an attitude as well, accusing us of being at the wrong spot. Prior to the trip, I had given him a heads up about our group, and how we’ll likely need to move slow because my dad is 80, and my mom has a bad hip. However, he was impatient at our slow pace right from the beginning, and was not helpful when my mom tried to look for a bathroom along La Rambla.
Because my uncle spoke fluent Spanish, Tomas was most friendly towards him, and he did soften up a bit when my uncle chatted with him. However, whenever we asked questions related to history, culture, or art, he couldn’t seem to answer any of them. His answers were very generic and often ended with “you can look this up online.” Our tour was suppose to be 3 hours, but after about an hour in, my sister and I decided to end early, as Tomas was not providing us anything other than the stress of moving faster. We told him because we wanted to take a break and would prefer to end the tour early. He seemed relief, and said he would take us to the best churro place in town. We followed, since the tour was suppose to include a bag of churros for us anyways. When we arrived to the cafe, he pulled one of the staff aside to talk to her in Spanish while we got seated. When he came back, he said he already ordered for us and would just leave us to enjoy our churros. He said a quick good bye and fled off. Next thing we knew, the staff brought out 7 hot chocolate and 7 churros for the 7 of us. We tried to refuse some of it as not all of us were intending to drink hot chocolate, but they were reluctant to take anything back, so we ended up just keeping everything. To be fair, it was definitely the best hot chocolate and churros we’ve ever had, so we did not regret keeping all of it. But, as it turns out, Tomas did not pay for the churros like he was suppose to, so we felt even more cheated by him. I definitely will not be using withlocals.com anymore for our future travels.
After the delicious hot chocolate and churros, we explored on our own the rest of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter at a much more leisurely pace. The architecture was astounding, and there were lots of open air markets and cute shops all around. We didn’t want to leave!
We had lunch at 7 Portes, which had the best paella on the planet! We ordered several different kind of paellas, but hands down, our favorite was the squid ink paella.
With very full stomachs, we decided to walk back to the cruise terminal and took our time to stroll along the beautiful streets of Barcelona. It’s definitely a place that deserves more than a day’s visit. Alan and I spent a few days in Barcelona about 8 years ago and absolutely loved our time there!
By the time we got back on the ship, thousands of new guests had checked into their staterooms already and we began making our way back to Italy…