Al Andalus itinerary for Day 5

Al Andalus itinerary for Day 5

In the early morning of Day 5 our train made its journey to the station at Linares-Baeza where we parked for the day.  We were definitely in olive country.  Rows upon rows of olive trees stretched to the distant horizon outside the train windows.

View of the landscape around Granada, from the train window

View of the landscape around Granada, from the train window

Olive trees as far as the eye could see

Olive trees as far as the eye could see

An accident blocked the road to the Olive Oil Museum in Baeza, so we had a change in itinerary and started the day with a walking tour of the town.  Our guide, Andrei (he was Italian and loved to talk with his hands), was very enthusiastic about sharing the history of this area of Spain, where he is now a resident.

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Baeza was a center of learning and the location of an antique university.  Today the new International University of Andalucía is located there.

Antique University

Antique University

 

Botanical print on the walls of the Antique University

Botanical print on the walls of the Antique University

This was a day for small towns.  After we left Baeza, we took the bus to Ubeda, where we went on another walking tour.

The town of Baeza

The town of Baeza

Scenery around Ubeda, from the bus window

Scenery around Ubeda, from the bus window

Landscape with olive trees, near Ubeda

Landscape with olive trees, near Ubeda

Finally, after another delicious lunch at the National Parador of Ubeda, we were able to drive to the Olive Oil Museum for a tour and olive oil tasting.  Our guide said that this area of Spain has 65 million olive trees, of which half have been planted in the past 50 years.  There is now very much a mono-crop agricultural economy here.  And 95-percent of the trees in the Baeza area are of the Picual variety which make the best olive oil.

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When we did the olive oil tasting, I discovered that the oil of the Picual olives leaves a very bitter aftertaste.  But it is high in nutrients and good for cooking.

We learned that virgin oil is derived by simple pressing or squeezing (no refining).  Extra virgin oil has only positive attributes.  The color of the oil doesn’t reflect on its quality.  If green, it just means the olives were picked earlier in their growth cycle so they retain more chlorophyll. Olive oil never gets better with age.  Two years is the maximum expiration date.  Olives for eating need to sit 40 days in salt brine.

Olive oil tasting at the Olive Oil Museum of Baeza

Olive oil tasting at the Olive Oil Museum of Baeza

The first cat I saw in Spain (at the Olive Oil Museum)

The first cat I saw in Spain (at the Olive Oil Museum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light rail alone the Jaffa Road, Jerusalem

Light rail along the Jaffa Road, Jerusalem

The modern city of Jerusalem

The modern city of Jerusalem

It was fun to leave the old, walled city of Jerusalem and explore a bit in the modern era!  Audrey and I walked up the Jaffa Road to the Jewish market, Mahane Yehuda.  What a vibrant place!  It reminded me of Seattle’s Pike Place Market, but with more energy.  From there, we wandered, mapless, on the residential streets of the earliest Jewish immigrants to Jerusalem.  There was always something interesting to see, whether people, cats, or architectural elements.

Along the Jaffa Road (these buildings reminded my of New Orleans)

Along the Jaffa Road (these buildings reminded me of New Orleans)

Olive vendor in the Jewish market

Olive vendor in the Jewish market

Tea stall, Mahane Yehuda

Tea stall, Mahane Yehuda

Kippas for sale

Kippas for sale

Mahane Yehuda market, Jerusalem

Mahane Yehuda market, Jerusalem

A peak into the entry way of an apartment in a Jewish residential area

A peak into the entry way of an apartment in a Jewish residential area

Grillwork on window

Grillwork on window

Overflow from a crowded synagogue, Jerusalem

Overflow from a crowded synagogue, Jerusalem

Using a balcony for storage, Jaffa Road, Jerusalem

Using a balcony for storage, Jaffa Road, Jerusalem