Ubeda – A Drive Through Olive Country

So we rented a car to go to Granada. Ubeda and Baeza are two small towns on the way that we wanted to see, so we booked the only hotel available the night before. The 1.5 hour drive is outstanding, through olive tree filled mountain and countryside. The province of Jaen produces more olives than any other country on Earth (including Italy- surprisingly to us). When we read that we thought ‘ok we will see some olive trees’, well we did. 1.5 hours of olive trees everywhere. We aren’t really sure how olives are harvested but we saw olive trees on the sides of mountains that people would need to free climb to get to. It’s crazy, but the drive was really breathtaking to see.

Olive trees as far as the eye can see

Our hotel was a little out of the way from the old town, in a town of 30,000 so we were about a 15 minute walk away. We parked, unpacked and made our way to the historic district. The city is much more modern than we expected, that is until you get to the historic district. It felt like, what we imagine, being dropped into the 14th century. Cobblestone laneways, old renaissance style churches and buildings, hand made clay everything and a few olive oil stores with massive wooden doors. We stopped for some tapas and ordered too much food . The children were napping for the first half and awake for the second half of the meal. The first half enjoyed peacefully and loving each bite, the second half stuffing food in our faces, trying to finish our meal, while our children spaz and we ask for the bill.

Tapas y Cana con un bebé dormiendo

It was getting late in the afternoon so we headed back to our hotel for our siesta….Which lasted over 3 hours until 7 PM. We thought we would miss most things in the old town since it was getting late but we actually got to cover quite a bit before most shut down at 9. We got to go in Iglesia de San Pablo (which looked like that scene at the end of Les Mis when Jean Valjean is dying). We saw the Sacra Capilla del Salvador, the Palacio de las Cadenas and the Basilica Santa María de los Reales Alcázares.

Walked into an amazing handicraft clay store where you know the stuff is actually hand made and made, what appeared to be, very well. Bought some delicious olive oil after a brief lesson on why Spain has the best olive oil and walked over to a view point for our dinner, drinks and a few pictures. The view of the mountains in the background was perfect, with olive trees as far as the eye could see. The place we ate (Cafetería Tapería el Mirador) was about 2 tables full on the patio when we got there and had a line fighting for tables by the time we left. English was not spoken much here so we gave it our best and ordered what were called ‘lids’. Which we assumed, after eating there, meant small dish because each lid was exactly that (just found out Tapas actually translates to ‘lid’). Each one fantastic, the olives and the bun with minced meat (think Jamaican Patty) were so good. To top it off including drinks it was 18 Euros. Our son spent most of the dinner running up and down the cobblestone and our daughter got a kick out of entertaining the surrounding tables. We didnt try the snails which is a shame since almost every table had some by the end of the night. Awesome day trip and everything we hoped it would be. If you ever get a chance its worth the stop.