This week we finally got to explore different touristy places in our own city, Barcelona. Our first stop was Parc Güell. The park was designed by Gaudi, like most of the things in the beautiful city of Barcelona. Located in the hilly outskirts, the park gives the most beautiful view of the entire city of Barcelona. We could even see the even more famous structure built by Gaudi, Sagrada Familia from it! The Parc Güell is set up on terraces, due to the location on the hilly outcrop. Though most of the parks in Spain are not completely green, this park is certainly one of the most colorful areas I have seen so far. Güell was originally built to be an up-scale park for the aristocracy of Barça and contains a house that Gaudi had lived in at one point in his life and has been transformed into a museum. The structures built by Gaudi have been influenced by his surroundings, and the ornate tile work is absolutely breathtaking. One can see his original, modern style in virtually everything he builds.
Another historical place in Barcelona we were able to visit was Marsella, one of the oldest bars in Barcelona. The patrons of the bar include the likes of Salvador Dalí and Ernest Hemingway. With so much history behind it, how could we not visit! Also, it is one of the few bars that still serve absinthe. With this in mind, we set out for the bar, which is now located in one of the more unsafe districts in Barça. After traveling down an alley for a ways, we found it! We located a table towards the back of the bar and proceeded to order our drinks. What came to us was different than what was expected. The absinthe, which was supposed to taste of licorice, was a very light golden color, somewhat similar to rum. With the 1/4 filled glass of absinthe, came two sugar cubes and a water bottle with a tiny hole pierced in the top. Luckily, our roommate, Mike, had been here before and was able to explain how we were supposed to drink this drink. First, we were to put the sugar cubes on the spoon and dip them in the liquor. Next, we were to balance the spoon with the dipped sugar cubes on the glass, over the absinthe, and set them on fire! After the extremely hot fire burns out, put the sugar cubes in the liquor and use the water bottle to spray water on the side of the glass, until the liquor becomes cloudy. One drink of absinthe turns out to be about the size of a normal glass of wine. Boy, was it strong tasting, even though it was diluted!
Marsella's details looked virtually unchanged from its earlier days, except there were cobwebs on all corners of the bar. Old bottles of liquor, locked up for decades in glass cupboards, had the labels falling off, due to their age. The key to get into the storage area was still the same that was used when the bar was first opened.
In addition to the historical places we were able to see this weekend, we were also able to see how modern of a city Barça really was. Clubs line the beach, targeting the tourists in the area. Every weekend they are packed to the brim with people from all over the world, we have even met boys from Sweden, Australia, and England. Another place we were able to find was a movie theatre that shows movies in their original version, and most movies playing here are American. We have seen Snow White and the Huntsman and the Dictator so far. We aren't missing out on too much of American culture this summer after all. We get the best of both worlds!