Taberna el 22: The Luckiest Bar in Granada
Twenty-two is my lucky number. It has been since I was born on March 22nd and the time clocked in at 2:22 AM. I decided at an early age that this number was magical and anytime I saw 22 minutes on a clock, I’d make a quick wish. I choose airplane seats based on this two-digit number and when there isn’t a 22 to be found, I settle for the lesser, but just as powerful, number 2. So, on a sticky, sweet day in Granada, when my eyes settled on a sign with a large 22 painted in yellow, I knew we’d found a place of safety.
I’ve never had a good sense of direction and my dad is that cliché of man, who refuses to stop the car and ask for directions, even when the GPS is calmly taunting us in its British accent. “Turn around, you are going the wrong direction.”
We sat there quietly for a few minutes, and I realized I hadn’t spent this much alone time with my dad in years.
He and I had grabbed a map and decided to explore the Albaicin, a maze of a Moorish past, with views of the Alhambra and excitingly for me, a place where you can get your name written in Arabic for one euro. We were following the map, but somehow, we didn’t have a clue where we were. Cobblestone streets, while charming, were killing our feet and we only wanted to sit somewhere that wasn’t an annoyed abuela’s stoop.
A bar painted in the deep red and yellow of southern Spain appeared before us. Taberna el 22 called to me with its well-chosen number, but it spoke to my dad with its wooden tables and fold out chairs, where he could sit in some shade out front and go over our map. We sat there quietly for a few minutes, and I realized I hadn’t spent this much alone time with my dad in years.
Living abroad keeps me away from home and when I’m back visiting, there are always lots of family outings and get-togethers with old family friends. I’ll go shopping or for coffee with my mom and out to some party by the river with my brother. But my dad is more of a homebody and if we hang out alone, it’s while we’re doing work on our computers, watching something on TV, or cleaning. We don’t really go out together, so this day of exploring Granada, while my mom was off on a bike ride with her friends, felt special.
My dad likes to speak California Spanish, like Hola, señorita, what’s up, but really, he doesn’t know much Español. He smiled nervously when the bar owner came out to take our orders. I was proud to use the Spanish I’d picked up while living in northern Spain and ordered us glasses of vino de naranja, or orange wine.
Granada is known for having the best tapas in Spain and Taberna el 22 was no exception. Our full-to-the-brim glasses of wine were served with plates of crusty bread, olives soaked in their oil, and thick slices of creamy cheese. Gratis, of course.
My dad spread the map across the table and we tried to make sense of it. The bar owner, realizing what total tourists we were, took the time to sit with us and explain in English where we were, how we could escape the maze and get back to the main streets of Granada, and where else we should go. We were the only two sitting at the tables outside the bar and inside there were a couple Spanish men, nursing sweating beers, and waiting for the bar owner to come back and chat with them.
My dad and I relished the quiet, until some young boys came by and started a soccer (or futbol) game in the bumpy street, which we watched while laughing together. It was nice to share this unique, off-the-grid place with my dad and know that we didn’t have to share it with anyone else. We even came back the next day, but this time, it was more crowded, as couples smoked and drank red wine and children ran after cats that were chasing pigeons.
He attempted some Spanish, asked me questions about the culture, and as a homebody, bravely opened himself up to a new place.
I sipped white wine with chunks of apple and lemon juice stirred in it and talked to my dad about my life in Spain, how much I loved Granada, and translated various words for him. He attempted some Spanish, asked me questions about the culture, and as a homebody, bravely opened himself up to a new place.
This moment was more than two years ago and it still is one of my favorite memories with my dad. I’m not sure if we’ll ever have a moment like that again, and so, Taberna el 22 is yet another lucky 22 in my life.
Photo credit: Camelia TWU