Rome Food Tour

At 6:40 am on June 5, 2013, there was a loud knock on the door.  We assumed it was room service.  Another knock was heard, louder this time.

It turned out to be two Security guards and Terry Gattis.  They informed Ivan that he had to leave the Norwegian Epic cruise ship by 7:30 am by order of the Capitan.  Ivan asked why… but was just told to pack his stuff and get out by 7:30am. Nothing in writing..nothing from the captain..nothing official whatsoever.

We had to leave early anyway as we had a food tour book in Rome, so were planning to be off the boat by 7.30am anyway regardless of the fact that we were being kicked off the boat.

We were actually ready to leave by 7:15 pm, but then they started saying that we COUDLN’T leave as officials had to come. They blocked us in the room and kept Ivan prisoner there.

I went to tell Denise and Ken that we would meet them at the train station and there was trouble, but I didn’t go into detail.

Finally, left at 7:45 am.  We didn’t get anything in writing.  I bet they’ll claim that we voluntarily left the boat and there’s no record of it.  They also didn’t help us with flights which they said they would.

We got a shuttle to Civitavecchia and walked to the train station.  We missed our food tour because of the stupid commotion and ended taking the later train.

We got a hotel room near the train station at Hotel Hollywood.  They were very friendly to us.

Thankfully, Ivan rescheduled our food tour for later today.  We went to the Vatican to meet up with Ivan’s family and D.

St. Peter's Square

We walked around the Vatican in St. Peter’s Square.  I sent a postcard from the Vatican to my sister-in-law.


I took pictures while Ivan tried looking for Denise, Ken, Neal and D.  He called them and they were waiting across the street.

Everybody popped into a souvenir shop that has a toilet and lots of Catholic related souvenirs.  I bought a few things for my family.

We said good-bye since they walked around Rome for hours and wanted to get back to the cruise ship.

Ivan thought it was a good idea to stop for an espresso since we were going on a food tour later.  The café we stopped in had cool décor.

Cool decor in the cafe

It also sold lots of books and old pictures.

Ivan and I stopped at a bar to have a glass of limonchello.  It’s fun to walk around the streets of Rome and find a nice place to have a drink or something to eat.

We walked to Piazza Farnese to meet up with our guide for the Rome Food Walking Tour which took us through Trastevere, Campo di Fiori and the Jewish Ghetto  Her name was Francesca.  The group consisted of just me and Ivan.

One of our first stops was at Ruggeri Delicatessen which is an old grocery store in Campo di Fiori.

Me with salami

I got to try the salami and we both tasted the bufala mozzarella and pecorino romano.  The mozzarella is so fresh.  It’s not refrigerated  and should be use within two days.

Our next stop was at a Forno which is a bakery.

Lots of things to try at the Forno

We tried the pizza bianca which is really popular.. which we’re not really sure why since it’s only bread with olive oil on it.  We found it really boring.  Ivan and I also tried bread with tomato on it.  I tried bread with mortadella which is ham that’s flavored with spices.  The mortadella was mild and tasted good.

Walked through the Jewish Ghetto which is now a luxurious place to live.

Fontana delle Tartarughe

It’s always sad to hear the stories about the Jews that were taken away because of the Nazis during World War II.  There are plaques in the road in front of the houses that states what happened to the people who lived there.

We stopped at a little unassuming restaurant for supplì and fried cod.

A tasty supplì

Supplì sounds like it would be soup but it’s actually a fried rice ball with tomato sauce.  Both tasted great.

Francesca was full of knowledge about food and the history of Rome.

A street in Trastevere

Our last neighborhood was Trastevere.  I love this part of Rome since it’s a beautiful area with lots of greenery.

Our second to last stop was Sette Oche in Altalena Reclamavano la Cena – whew! that’s a mouthful.  Ivan and I each got a bowl of Cacio e Pepe pasta.  It’s a dish with lots of Pecorino and pepper.

Me with tasty cacio e pepe pasta

It’s one of my favorite pastas in Italy.  Ivan and I enjoyed our pasta with a lovely glass of red.

It was off to a gelato shop called Fior di Luna.  Our guide told us that we could pick 2 or 3 flavors.  Ivan tried strawberry and chocolate while I got banana and dark chocolate.

Ivan with his gelato

The banana was so good – it tasted like I was eating a banana.  Yummy!  It was a sweet way to end this great tour.  I recommend this tour if you want to try lots of great Italian food.

We were so tired and stuffed, so we headed back to the hotel.


Pompeii Legends

On June 4, 2013, Ivan, Lil Dave and I got off the Norwegian Epic boat at 10 am in Naples, Italy.  The weather was overcast and wasn’t very nice.

We got a taxi to the train station.  Ivan didn’t realize that we got on the wrong train.  A lady who worked at the station said it was the right one.  Oh well.  We had to get off and wait for another train headed the right way.

We wanted to go to Sorrento to meet up with Ivan’s parents, but Ivan thought we should just head to Pompeii for lunch and possibly a tour of the ruins.

Lil Dave wanted to go climb around the ruins, so we set up a time to meet him later on.

Ivan was really hungry, so we went in search of a restaurant for lunch.  Ivan and I thought Pizza e Pasta looked good and it was perfect since that’s what we wanted!

Ivan eating healthy

Ivan and I got stuff from the pasta bar which was artichoke, aubergine, sundried tomatoes and fresh bufala mozzarella.  We also got a delicious Pizza Marinaio, which came with shrimp, mozzarella, lemon and rocket.  We also shared a Penne alla Siciliane which is a pasta with mozzarella, aubergine, Parmesan and basil.

We decided not to take a tour of Pompeii since we did a great tour the last time we were here.  Ivan and I walked around and bought a bunch of souvenirs.

Limonchello & melonchello souvenir bottles

We got a train to Naples and walked back to the Norwegian Epic cruise ship which was a mile away.

At 5 pm, we were back on the boat where we rested for awhile.

Ivan and I went to Denise and Ken’s room to talk about our day.  Neal and D joined us a few minutes later and told us about their day in Capri.

Later, Ivan, Neal, D and I went to see Legends in Concert.  The impersonator show featured Tom Jones, Adele and Tina Turner.  Tom Jones looked just like the real Tom Jones.  I’m not the biggest fan of Tom Jones, but he was good.  I really enjoyed Adele and Tina Turner.  Adele sang beautifully.  She did struggle with the high notes of the song Someone Like You.  I can definitely sing it better – I’ve sung it before in my singing class.  Tina Turner was really good and danced around a lot.

Ivan, Neal, D and I headed to the buffet to eat.  At the front of the buffet, a lady named Joannaline was telling us to ‘washy washy’ with the hand sanitizer.  Ivan said no and made a joke spitting in his hands.  Obviously, he didn’t spit in his heads.  But, Joannaline Marquez thought he did.

Ivan and I were trying to find food to eat.  An Indian maitr’d came over named Tanberg D’Souza saying that we must wash our hands since it’s mandatory.  Ivan and I both told him it’s not mandatory, it’s optional.  He said Ivan spit in his hands though.  He said he didn’t and it was a joke.  Tanberg asked for Ivan’s room number and he wouldn’t give it to him.  He said he was going to write him up.  I was trying to see his name tag, but was trying to hide it from me.  I said I want to know your name.  He told me he would give me his card.  Tanberg went on the phone to call somebody else.  He kept asking Ivan for his room number and he told him 12345.

Two security officers came over to our table.  A lady asked for Ivan’s room number since he supposedly spit in his hands.  He made up a number and gave it to them.  It was 12345.  Somehow, they believed it.  Neal left the table since he was embarrassed.  D remained at the table.

Another security officer named Terry Gattis came over and said to Ivan You were spitting in your hands.  Ivan told him it was a joke.  Terry asked Do you think that’s funny?  I said yes, but probably shouldn’t have.  D said it was a big misunderstanding…but, not to serious Terry.  He asked for Ivan’s room number and he said I gave it to you.  Ivan also said that he’s trying to eat.  Terry said you’re done eating and took his plate.  He told Ivan to come with them.  I thought it was hilarious and said Yah, you should put him in handcuffs too.  We got dirty looks from everybody around us.  I didn’t care.  D and I made funny waving movements with our arms to people showing that we didn’t care.

D and I ate and I figured it would all be alright in the end since it wasn’t that big a deal.

D came back and said she talked to Jill the cruise director.  She told her that my friend needs to talk to you because her husband was taken to the prison.  She said It’s not me you deal with.. she has to talk to the head Security guy.  She didn’t even give a name to D.  She’s not much help.

They took Ivan down to the security office and made him give them his room number. Ivan found it cool that he got to see the inside of a cell on a cruise ship, because usually these are out of bounds on behind the scene cruise ship tours.

Lil Dave had a fun day with a group of monkeys he met in Sorrento. He had fun with them on the cruise ship as well.

Ivan and I used the internet in the room before going to sleep.


Martini Contest

Ivan, Lil Dave and I slept in until 9 am on June 3, 2013.  It was great to get lots of sleep.

It was a Sea Day today, so the boat was floating away to it’s next destination which is Naples, Italy.

Ivan wanted to get everybody together for breakfast at the Taste dining room.  But, only Denise and Ken came.  We found out later that Neal and D had breakfast in their room.  I’m not sure why the breakfast in the dining room closes at 9:30 am.  It should be until 10:30 am or later since some people are probably still jetlagged.

Ivan and I both got salmon eggs benedict which tasted good.  I felt a little sick, think it was seasickness.

Right before 10 am, Ivan and I headed up to the Sports Complex.  It was time for Family Dodgeball.  Neal and D came to play as well.  It was kids and adults playing.  The balls that were used were meant for kids so they were really small and soft.  Not good for dodgeball.  Ivan was annoyed and stopped playing.  I played a bit.. but it wasn’t that fun like it usually is.  I prefer playing with just adults and with bigger balls.

We went to go chill in the room for a short time before going to the Champagne Art Auction.  Ivan and I sat on the chairs on the big balcony and worked on the blog.

The Art Auction is by Park West which is a major rip-off.  Ivan and I go just for the free champagne.  The artwork was the same stuff we’ve seen on our previous cruises.  Ivan’s family and D met us there.  Ivan got a chance to play auctioneer.

Ivan the Auctioneer

I wouldn’t bother buying any artwork on cruise ships.  If you’re rich, I’d go buy art in a proper art gallery on land.

Lunch time was at the buffet with a very limited selection of food.  The food wasn’t very good at all.

Later, Ivan and I signed up for the Martini Tasting for $15 per person.  We were sitting by four young English people.  On the poster, it stated the tasting would feature a contest with prizes.

An Indonesian man named Kadek was our tasting guide.  He told us that Martinis were invented by Terry Thomas in San Francisco in 1860.  It was actually first called the Martinez with many different stories as I’ve seen on the internet about it’s inception.  The drink contains gin or vodka.

There are 2 classes of martinis: Classic and Designer.  Kadek covered the first class the Classic Martini.  It has 3 types of martinis: Classic, Dry and Extremely dry.

The group got to try a Classic Martini which was good, but strong.  Kadek gave us the recipe as well.

Next, we covered the Designer Martinis which I definitely prefer since they taste better.  This martini was created in the 1980’s in Manhattan.

Our next martini tasting was the Cosmopolitan which gained popularity because of the tv show Sex and the City.  I love Cosmos and forgot that it was a martini.  It was very tasty.  Kadek recommended that Cosmos taste better with a good Cranberry juice like the brand Ocean Spray.

Kadek was a funny guy and helpful.  He did ask one question about martinis, but nobody got it right.

The third tasting was Vanilla Bansee which was very banana-y.  I know Lil Dave and his dad Big Dave would like this one since it has crème de banana in it.

Me & Ivan with our martinis

Speakeasy Martini was our last tasting.  It doesn’t even contain vodka or gin.  This one was tasty.  Try it at home with the recipe below.

Speakeasy Martini


1/4 oz. Southern Comfort

1 oz. Bols

1 oz. Grand Marnier

Splash of Sweet & Sour

3/4 oz. of Champagne


Put the first four ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake it.  Pour into a cool martini glasses and top with champagne.  Serve.

Ivan asked Kadek about the contest containing prizes.  He said our prize was the martinis.  I don’t think that’s right.  If there are prizes, they should be given away.  He only asked one question and nobody got it right.  He should have asked more.  I don’t like false advertising.

Ivan and I headed to the Sports Complex for the Family Soccer.  Neal and D joined us.  I didn’t feel like playing.  I couldn’t play anyway since I didn’t have trainers (sneakers) or closed shoes on.  Ivan went back to the room to get his dress shoes.

Neal playing soccer

I watched Neal and D play with the kids and adults.

Ivan joined later.  He played goalie, but he was really bored.  The game turned out to be tied.  Each team didn’t win anything, but a piece of paper which if you collect enough, you can then win a prize.  Carnival cruise line is better since you’ll win a medal or a gold Ship on a Stick when you play games.

We met up with Denise, Ken, Neal and D for the Mr. Epic Contest.  I really wanted to be a judge.  I asked the assistant cruise director if I could be a judge and he said yes.  I joined three other women.  It was two English ladies from London and a lady from Malta.

Neal somehow was asked to participate in the contest.

Mr. Epic Contest contestants

Too bad he got kicked out in the first round since his dance wasn’t very good.

The contest had a variety of men from all over the world like USA, England, Belgium, Spain and Malta.  It was fun choosing who to kick out based on their dance skills and hula hoop skills.  A guy from New York was a good dancer who I found out later was a professional dancer.  It turns out that the guy in the contest from Malta was the son of Maria the Malta judge.  She didn’t want us to kick him off, but he wasn’t a good hula hooper.  Oh yah, the assistant cruise assistant didn’t want us to kick off the Spanish guy since he’s different.  I think he just wanted to please all the Spanish people on board.  I thought to myself Hey, this contest is fixed.

It was up to the audience to pick the final winner by their applause.  I was rooting for the New Yorker.  The winner turned out to be the Spanish guy.  I was disappointed that the judges weren’t given anything.. well, unless you count the kisses on our cheeks from the winner.  I’ve judged the Hairy Chest Competition on Carnival before and I was given a medal and a bottle of champagne.  Norwegian needs to step up their game a bit… stop being cheap.

After the contest, New York (that’s what I called the New York guy since I didn’t know his name) was dancing around to the fun house music.  I saw the two English girls from the Martini Tasting and came over to dance with them.  I love to dance.  A girl who was friends with the English people from the tasting loved me.  She said Let’s be friends.  I said Best Friends like in the tv show The Inbetweeners.  I hope she got the reference, otherwise I probably sounded like a right geek.  Her name was Amy and she looked like a hippie.  She loved my blue highlights.  Her friend Bethany joined us in dancing.

Ivan left to go shower and said that I should come get ready soon.  I danced around and enjoyed the music for awhile.  Amy and Bethany said they would be at the nightclub later and they hoped I’d see them there.

Later on, Ivan and I met up with everybody else at Headliners for Graffiti Classics.  It’s string quartet who play classical music with dancing and lots of humor.

Graffiti Classics

It was really quite entertaining.

Dinner was in The Manhattan Room.  I got prosciutto, melon and fig for a starter.  It’s so hard to be pescetarian on a cruise ship since the meat is free!

Us at dinner

I got the bean burrito for my main which had lots of rice inside and a BBQ sauce.  The BBQ sauce was really lazy – the chefs aren’t very inventive on this cruise ship.  Ivan thought a nice chipotle sauce would have been better.

Ivan left early to save seats for Blue Man Group. I stayed for a bit, but thought I should leave since I didn’t order any dessert. I walked around a bit and then went to the Epic Theatre to find Ivan.

The theatre was was getting filled up fast.  Unfortunately, there weren’t six seats available in the middle of the theatre in the first few rows.  Ivan did find six seats off to the side though.

Ivan and I have seen Blue Man Group a few times in Las Vegas.  Ivan has also seen it in other cities.  Denise didn’t like it since she thought it was weird and left a few minutes in.

We thought it was hilarious as usual.  It’s the old version while the new Las Vegas 2.0 version at the Monte Carlo is awesome.

Me with Mr. Blue Man #2

I got a chance to take a picture with one of the neutral Blue Men at the end of the show outside of the theatre.


Epic Moon

Ivan, Lil Dave, Denise, Ken, Neal and D and I left the apartment at 11:45 am on June 2, 2013.  Today, we were boarding the Norwegian Epic for a Mediterranean cruise ship.  It was a fast check-in for cruise ship since the check-in opened at noon.  We got an upgrade to a bigger room probably since the boat wasn’t very full.

We went to our rooms on the 10th floor and it was a huge balcony room.  The balcony was so big and there was plenty of space in the room.

Big balcony handicapped room

Ivan noticed that it was a handicapped room, so it makes sense that it was so spaced out especially in the bathroom.

All of our rooms were on the same floor.  Everybody went to the lunch buffet.

Norwegian Epic buffet

The buffet room is nicely decorated.  Too bad the selection of food wasn’t that good.  The desserts were behind a plastic cover, so you felt like you were in your school cafeteria.  Not very classy.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went back to the room.  Lil Dave went to explore the ship to see if he could find some monkey friends.  Ivan and I changed into our swimsuits and headed for the waterslides.

Waterslides on the Norwegian Epic

There are three waterslides on the boat.  Two of them are completely in the dark.  One of them goes off the boat a bit and should be see through so you can see the ocean while you’re riding it.  The last one is a bowl ride where you ride an inner tube.  The slides are fun.  We rode them a few times and then chilled in the jacuzzi.

Ivan and I changed in the room and then walked around the ship to get an Ivan self-guided tour.

Later, we went to the safety drill which is mandatory.  It was so stupid since they showed you how to put on the life vest… and it’s obvious that you understand how they put it on even if you don’t speak English.  But, after they had to translate it into 5 other languages. Boring! On other cruise lines like Carnival.. they only do it in English.

Neal and D joined us later since they have an interior room with no window.  Ivan and I would never get an interior room again.  We had one once and it was really small and you never know what time it is since it’s always so dark in there.

It was almost time to sail away.  Neal brought some rum, iced tea and lemonade to the room.  For some reason, you can only get orange juice during breakfast.  Lame.  Neal mixed rum and iced tea and DID NOT like it at all.  Ivan and I made our drinks with lemonade and rum.  I told Lil Dave that I made him one with a little rum (shh, I didn’t though!) and some of his banana juice.

Neal & Ivan chillin' on the balcony

We relaxed on the balcony with our drinks while the boat sailed away from Barcelona.

Neal and D left to get ready.

Ivan and I showered and met everybody in the Atrium.  On most cruise ships, there’s an Atrium with a beautiful chandelier right in front of the row of elevators.  It’s quite impressive.  The two Norwegian ships we have been on don’t have this.  The Atrium has a big screen tv and a bunch of seats.  It’s not very nice at all.

The Welcome Aboard show was currently on with the cruise director Jill who is, according to Ivan, really plastic and boring.  He says she’s like a school mistress.    We watched the show for a few minutes seeing a preview of the Spanish ballet.

Ivan, Neal, D and I headed to Tradewinds where the shops are.  The Liquor Tasting was supposed to be at 7 pm, but it was late for some reason.  We chatted with one of the guys who had a $10 table for the shopping special tomorrow.  Neal really liked the hats!

Neal with a stack of hats

The Liquor Tasting was finally open at 7:20 pm.  We all tried a few samples of the liquor that the store is selling on board.

Ivan & D getting liquor samples

If you buy something at duty free, you can’t have it until the end of the trip.  How dumb!  The cruise ship just wants you to buy all their liquor on board.

We had dinner at The Manhattan Room.  Ivan and I tried the seafood paella which was the regional specialty for the night.  It was nice to be with Ivan’s family and chat about our plans for the rest of the cruise.

Our group walked to Headliners for the dueling piano shows called Howl at the Moon.  Two guys were playing the piano.  One guy was average while the other guy was really good.


Lots of people were requesting songs.  If you tipped them, your song was given priority.  I didn’t bring any money with me, so my song wasn’t played while we were there.  A black lady took over for the average guy. She was really good and funny.  Lots of fun songs were played like Midnight Toker, Benny and the Jets and Don’t Stop Believing.  It was great singing along with the crowd.  I hope to check them out another night.

We walked out to check out the Beatles tribute band.  They were very good.

The Beatles tribute band

They didn’t really look like The Beatles, but it didn’t really matter.  It was a shame that the Atrium doesn’t have that many seats.  All the seats were taken there and upstairs at the Pub which overlooks the Atrium.  We listened for awhile.  I was singing along to their music and dancing a little.

Ivan was talking to Guest Services when Neal and D left.

Ivan and I listened to The Beatles band with Denise and Ken for a short time.  We said bye to them since we wanted to catch up with Neal and D at the nightclub.

We went to check out Bliss.  Some people were dancing away, but not that many.  Ivan said we should check out Spice at H2O which is the outdoor club.  I forgot that Neal said they were going to see what was going on at Spice, not Bliss.  We went up there and it was empty except for one couple.

Ivan and I checked out the Mountain Slide which was unfortunately closed up.  It looks like it would be lots of fun to climb up and then slide down it.

Fun Mountain Slide

We went back to the ugly Atrium and listened to The Beatles more with Ivan’s parents before we went back to the room.

It was really rocky that night on the boat.  The beds were very comfortable and it was easy to drift off to sleep and into dreamland.

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