Malaga to Grenada – Hammam Al Ándalus Granada

Waking up in the Ibis Budget hotel wasn’t the best feeling in the world.  Even discounting the rude midnight wake-up, I hadn’t had the best night’s sleep and was missing the thought of the beautiful hotel Nick had booked for us in Grenada.

However, a new day had dawned and it was time to put yesterday behind us.  It could only get better from yesterday’s low point. Happily, at least we had an included breakfast at the Ibis so we headed downstairs to avail ourselves of it.

As breakfast buffets went, it actually wasn’t too bad.  There were lots of breads, pastries, cereals and a couple of juices available.  Nick smashed a couple of bowls of coco-pops while I had a croissant and some yogurt as well as some cheese.  We each had some juice and coffee as well (we both felt oddly dehydrated). Nick, of course, went back for a couple more plates of food as we planned to eat once we got to Grenada which wouldn’t be till late afternoon.

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We headed back to the airport (the taxi this time only cost 12€ where as last night we got the ‘late-night fee’ and it ended up costing us 20€) and found the area where our bus would depart from.

We had booked the tickets the night before as we had thought that everyone else from our redirected flight would probably need to get to Grenada.  It was just as well we did.  The first two buses were booked out and we managed to secure tickets on the 11am bus.

Happily the bus left on time and it was comfortable enough. We watched the countryside roll by for a couple of hours.  Spain is actually quite lovely and there was many a pastoral scene for us to admire.

But all the same, I was relieved when we finally arrived at Grenada. The bus station is located right on the outskirts of the city so we decided to catch another local bus to the city centre where it would be easy to walk to our hotel. We were staying at the Room Mate Leo Hotel which is located in the main area of Grenada.

It is a beautiful, picturesque hotel and I am pretty sad we missed our first night’s stay.  While the Room Mate Leo Hotel is officially rated as a 3-star hotel, its honestly nice enough to rate better in my opinion.  The room we have is gorgeous with a vintage gold feature wall behind the bed (which will look lovely by lamplight later!) and a well appointed bathroom and amenities.  The staff are also lovely and seem unlikely to wake us at at 12:30am for no reason. All in all, a huge upgrade from where we were.

Once checked in, we took a little time to explore the town in the immediate vicinity of the hotel.  It is a wonderful city and I am looking forward to learning a bit more about it. We stopped for a coffee and some cheeky cake in lieu of lunch (a chocolate brownie and a slice of chocolate Guinness cake) at a cute hipster cafe called La Finca.

Nick had booked us a reservation at the Hammam Al Ándalus Granada (Arabian baths) for 4pm. We got ready at the hotel and arrived about 10 minutes early so we could have everything explained to us and get the full time allocation. From their website:

The Hammam Al Ándalus Granada was established in 1998, reconstructing a 14th-Century house, which was a bakery in its day. Its opening involved the recovery of a historical tradition that for centuries had been lost.

In 1567, a cultural repression was imposed on the Moors of Granada which included a ban on the use of baths, among other particular hallmarks such as language or Arabic attire. The baths and thermal spas were turned into bakeries, taking advantage of the water heating boilers. This, coupled with the discovery of ancient water cisterns during the archaeological excavation at the site, and the fact that the nearby Church of Santa Ana was originally the ancient mosque, suggests that this Hammam may be located in the same place as the original bath.

Nick, love of my life, had also booked a 30 minute relaxation massage for me.  He had a 15 minute massage for himself, but knowing my extreme love for massages, had booked a longer session for me.  We were ushered into the baths and given wrist tags denoting what sort of session we had booked.  Nick had a white tag and I had a jade green one. We were also given Turkish bath towels and then led to the gender segregated change rooms.

Once we were attired and ready to go, we met up again inside the baths themselves and were shown around by a ‘host’ (whose name I didn’t catch). He would also later collect us for our massages when our allocated time came about.

The baths were lovely, low-lit and mysterious.  They burned some soothing fragrant oils throughout.  They had 3 kinds of pool – the hot baths, the warm bath and a cold bath (essentially a plunge pool).  They also had a steam bath.  The recommended order for these was: hot, warm, cold, steam.  Overall, we spent 1.5 hours there (including the massages) and got to cycle through all the baths at least twice.

For myself, surprisingly I didn’t love the hottest bath the most, preferring the more tepid warm bath.  Nick enjoyed the hot one the most (which is ALSO surprising as Nick usually isn’t into hot water temperatures). Of course, Nick adored the cold bath and enjoyed my over-the-top reaction to getting into it (though I was fine once I let myself acclimatise and it was even pleasant to be so cold).  I also really enjoyed the steam room.  I think it was good for both of us with the remnants of our colds – hopefully it kicks them to the curb!

There was also a tea station set up in one of the antechambers where they were serving a hot, sweet green tea with a very minty taste.  This was also very soothing and lovely and Nick and I were both fans.

Very luckily for us, our massages were the very last scheduled in.  This meant that we could enjoy the oil based massage without having to shower mid-session to get back into the baths.  The massages themselves weren’t the most amazing we had ever had, but after the last day’s stress they were very welcome.  I chose a rose based oil and Nick chose the pomegranate based oil (which was supposedly soothing).

When my massage was over I realised I was the very last person in the baths and everyone else had already cleared out. I headed into the change rooms.  As to be expected, the ladies change room was an absolute riot. I snagged a free shower cubicle and showered and changed as quickly as possible though admittedly I did stop and dry my hair and apply some of the free oils and moisturisers to my skin.

When I got out, poor Nick was wondering up and down the street like a lost soul.  Apparently all the other wives and girlfriends had collected their partners and were long gone. Sorry my love!

However, he wasn’t too cut up about it and we took a longer, scenic route back to home base.

Along the way, we stopped to admire the Plaza Isabel la Catolica where a large statue with fountains marked the centre.  The other truly outstanding landmark was the Cathedral de Granda which is a simply gorgeous, phenomenally large cathedral – it looked like it almost took up the space of a city block. According to Wikipedia, it took 181 years for the church to be completed.  Its not the biggest cathedral I have ever seen, but it was very impressive!

We meandered back to the hotel feeling happy and relaxed.  We took a little time to shower and get ready for dinner and then headed out to one of the best meals we have had in Spain thus far!  We went to a tapas bar called Bar Avila II.  Nick, having studied the reviews had already pinpointed the best plates and we dutifully ordered roasted ham (jamon assado), patatas bravas, anchovies in vinegar (boquerones en vinagre) and we also got a complimentary dish of home-style hamburger, served with tomato jelly and aged sheep cheese.

Everything was sensational and I particularly loved the anchovies.  Nick’s favourite was the jamon. The only weaker dish was the patatas bravas and I think this was only because the ones we had in Barcelona two nights hence were pretty amazing with their spicy paprika sauce. These ones were still good, but not as good as those ones!

The place was packed and we had arrived just after opening at 8pm. We got standing room only at a high, small round table.  It wasn’t a huge place, but every other chair or barstool was already occupied.  Shortly after we arrived, the only other standing table also got snatched up.

This was just fine by us though as the service was quick and warm.  The owners looked like a father-son duo and I couldn’t see any unhappy faces in the place.  We are hoping we will be able to go back for lunch one of the days we are here but I am still dying to eat some paella while we are Spain so we will see!

Happily sated, we headed back to the hotel to relax and read and blog. We plan on taking a walking tour around the city tomorrow so long as the weather holds up.  I am loving Granada thus far and am happy we (finally!) made it here.

Km’s walked: 7.3

Flights complete: 7/10

Tomorrow: Granada walking tour!

 

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