We asked a hotel owner where we should eat. Without hesitation, he said, “Oh, Espressonista. It’s the best restaurant in the city.”

We arrived to a beautiful old building on the outskirts of the tourist area, across from a magnificent old church in front of a plaza with bougainvillea vines lazily hanging from a pergola. We walked in to a large room (perhaps a former ballroom) with dizzyingly high ceilings adorned by decorative tin panels. The tables were far enough away from each other that each party could enjoy an intimate dinner with dining companions, and couldn’t overhear others’ conversations or be heard. Our table had a huge open window at our backs (ah, the breeze) and had a view of the open kitchen at the other end of the building.

Andreas, the owner, brought tiny chalkboards with lovely handwriting to our table. First, he invited us to choose a drink – local German crafted beer, a French wine, or freshly brewed minty Lady Grey tea. Next, he shared the three appetizer selections and four mains. We started with baby asparagus with Hollandaise sauce and herbed goat cheese, a chilled soup made from ground almonds, garlic, and watermelon chunks (amazingly delicious and complex), and a local cheese plate with fresh baked breads. For our mains we had vegetable “lasagna” (sans noodles) and a fish soup with vermicelli noodles. Each bite was exquisite. Andreas shared several dessert choices with us, but the only one I remember (and we chose) was rum raisin ice cream, with a splash of Flor de Caña rum over top. Heaven!

Throughout the evening, Andreas regularly stopped by our table to chat with us about where the ingredients were sourced, how the dish was prepared, where he finds inspiration. We left, feeling as though we had dined in a friend’s lovely home rather than in a restaurant.

Things that I Love about Granada

  • brightly colored buildings along every street – blues, greens, yellows, oranges, pinks – a rainbow for your eyes
  • views of volcanoes forming the backdrop for the city
  • ancient churches, some dilapidated, others perfectly restored
  • courtyards! So many courtyards!
  • palm trees and bougainvillea
  • grand old dames of buildings with high ceilings and larger than life carved wooden doors
  • life in the Parque Central – vendors, musicians, people strolling
  • shade trees grown so big the sidewalk has cracked


Several weeks ago, Krista, the team lead, pinged me on Skype. “Would you like to go to these baths while we’re in Granada?” Um, yeah.

And today we went. Ahhhhhhhh. A tall, slender, dark-haired Spanish woman showed us each room: cold, hot, steam, and medium (not hot, not cold). And the most important thing, “Silencio!”

We slipped into the medium pool first. She was correct, it wasn’t hot and it wasn’t cold. It was perfect for leaning back, lounging, and completely forgetting all cares in the world. After many minutes, I left the medium pool and entered the hot pool. After a few minutes, the heat was too intense, so I exited and poured myself a cup of mint tea, relaxing on a marble slab and sipping the sweet, minty liquid in the tiny plastic cup. I braved the cold pool for a matter of seconds, then headed back to the medium pool.

As I laid there, I drifted in and out of consciousness. I stared at the ceiling, rounded, with cutouts of stars shining down on me. I listened to the choruses of Arabic music softly coming through the speakers, taking me back to the time I spent in the Middle East, so many years ago. A faint spice smell filled the air – cinnamon? anise? – I never could place it. I stared at the columns rising from the pool of water, elegant rows of alabaster rising to the ceiling, reflections spread across the tranquil pool. I wished that cameras were allowed in the tranquil spot; I wanted to capture this serene image forever. Alas, they were not. Archways met my eye, cascading from the pool room where I was, to the showers, to the massage rooms.

A man massaged my back with rose oil and strong hands and arms, then escorted me back to the baths. I entered the steam room, breathing the damp steam in, relaxing on the marble benches. The steam was so thick, you couldn’t see anyone else in the room, you could only hear muffled whispers. It added to the mystique. Hearing, yet not seeing.

This routine continued – steam room, warm water, hot water, cold, repeat – for an hour an a half before the attendant rang the bell, informing us our session was done. We dressed and went outside into the chilly afternoon. No words were necessary to describe how relaxed and happy we were. We simply looked at each other, smiled, and said, “Ahhhhhhhhh” in unison.

Afternoon at the Alhambra

The pathways were lined by legions of slender towering cypress trees, dark green tips meeting the deep blue sky in stark contrast. The hedges, so neatly trimmed, sharp edges lining the gardens. Orange trees, with bright citrus orbs peeping out from so many green leaves. A magnificent view of the city showcasing tiny buildings lining the hillside. Opaque white fluffy clouds floating against a deep blue sky. Beautifully patterned stone paths greeted our feet. We wandered in and out of shaded gardens, relishing spots of direct sunlight, then slowly meandering on. At every turn there was a gentle trickle of water, making me suddenly feel calmer, more serene. We oohed and aahed at courtyards, at arches, at views. We stopped for long moments, staring at the views before us.

Our ticket for the main palace had a time stamped entry for 16:30. We got to the line at 16:15. There was no one in line, no other tourists in sight. We approached the ticket taker. “No. Not time.” We shrugged, then sat down on a bench nearby, basking in the sunshine. I was drifting into sleep when the others said, “It’s time” and we re-entered the line.

The palace, so unassuming on the outside, was magnificent on the inside. Glazed tile in deep blues, greens, and yellows lined the walls. Faded blue tile peeked up from the floor. Ceilings offered intricate wood carvings. Views of the city appeared through intricately carved windows. Fountains met us at every turn.

Each time we entered a new part of the palace we stopped in our tracks, amazed by the beauty before us. How did they make such incredible architecture? How did they carve such intricate designs? How did they coordinate work teams with no smart phones?

We walked back to the city, quietly reflecting on all the beauty we had seen.