There are more than 220 million olive trees in Spain, giving it the largest surface area of olive production of any country. And those olives, and the all of their byproducts, are delicious.
Nearly every great landscape view in Andelucia was filled with rolling hills of olive trees. We drove through them on our way south from Madrid to Seville, and promptly started ordering a plate of olives with every meal. We drove by olive oil factories, learned how to order just about any type of olive product in Spanish, and after a little while it felt like my blood was turning into olive oil.
The climax of the olive experience came when we reached the small town of Ubeda, in Jaen province of Andelucia. Our first evening in town I wandered past the church in the middle of town and was rewarded with the view above. We headed back in the morning to see great views of the olive covered hills rolling off into the distance where they met the mountains, like you see below.
After a solid hour enjoying the views, I knew we had to chase down a closer encounter with olives, and started asking around to see if we could find an olive oil factory, or tour of any nature. One lady seemed to have an idea – a little place called La Laguna that wasn’t on any of our maps and received no mention in Lonely Planet. It look a good leap of faith, and a bit of hunting, but we eventually found it. As you can see on google maps, it’s not more than a compound out in a in a sea of olive trees. But that compound is fantastic, including a cheap hotel, bar, restaurant, and the Museo de la Cultura del Olivo. It’s build on an old olive processing site, so has giant vats for olive oil in the basement, as well as 24 types of olive trees from all over the Mediterranean and 3 different type of historic olive presses above ground. There are some signs in broken English, but if you love olives anywhere nearly as much as I do, they will be more than enough to keep you captivated for a long while as you explore the many uses and falvours of olives.