Amanda Bennett: A Year in Zaragoza, Spain

Úbeda y Baeza: Tierra de Olivos February 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — psychohistoria @ 5:44 pm

I’ll preface this with a warning that I’m having photo issues…go to my blog at http://www.somewhereisspain.blogspot.com to see them – wordpress is being disagreeable!

“Qué nunca visites a Jaén; no hay nada en Jaén.” That was the recomendation of the girls we met in Sevilla: Don’t go to Jaen, the easternmost province of Andalucía, because there is absolutely nothing there.

True, movie theaters, restaurants, bars, and parks for botelloning were lacking, but Jaen is filled to the brim with olive trees, small quintessential Spanish towns, and renaissance architecture.

Never-ending landscapes of olive trees…olives and olives as far as the eye could see, for our entire bus ride from Granada to Baeza to Córdoba!

Our first stop after Granada was Úbeda, where we went to a painfully boring Museum of Olives; we then had a few hours free in the town to eat lunch with the 15 euros the school had given us as our meal allowance that day.

My three friends and I wanted to eat well. So rather than hop into the first restaurant we found, we asked a fruit vendor where a good place to eat was. He directed us to “El Seco”, a delicious gem hidden on a side street. I ordered habas con huevo y limón, broad beans with fried egg and lemon, and an olive oil cake with red wine reduction for dessert (the menu had a major typo as far as dessert was concerned: they had translated “postre”, the Spanish word for dessert, as “prostrate” – we kindly informed the waitress of her error and laughed for a while!). The olive oil in this region is absolutely delicious, so we made sure to ask for extra for bread dipping purposes.

When the entire group of teachers walked into the same restaurant as our main courses were being taken away, we knew we’d chosen a great place to eat! We went over and said hello to our professors, but retreated back to our table as not to bother them too much.

In fancy Spanish restaurants, it is a custom to bring complimentary chupitos – after-dinner shots – to the table after dessert. As the waitress approached with a bottle and chilled shot glasses, we all turned white – the teachers were sitting just a few tables away!! The waitress laughed at our reaction and showed us that it was non-alcoholic…thank goodness!

The exterior of Baeza’s church.

After Úbeda, we progressed to Baeza, a small town full of renaissance architecture.

Interior of Baeza’s cathedral.

We managed to find a tetería and passed some time there after our guided tour of the small town, which surveyed a renaissance church, a palace with a strangely erotic facade,

A tower of the aforementioned palace…

the university,

This is the old exam room of the university. Two students would debate a topic as their final exam, and the one who won passed – the other had to repeat the year. Hence the university had a graduation rate of exactly 50%…ouch.

a few town hall buildings, renaissance palaces, and amusing folklore. After dinner we set out to explore the small city center in the dark, amusing ourselves by posing for a multitude of photos…

According to our tour guide, these little connecting bridges between houses used to be popular secret meeting places for lovers…however, this one connected the church and the bishop’s residence, and he used the window to control who entered the church.

Despite the girls’ precaution about the region, we managed to have a montón of fun!

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