Sunday, 13 August 2017

Cacti Heaven, Barcelona

The best sights in any city, in my opinion, are those that steer well clear of the tourists. Off-the-beaten-track gems, cultural spaces and undiscovered landmarks that you get to enjoy all by yourself are just as worthy of seeing than any Eiffel Tower or Buckingham Palace.

A Barcelona cactus garden probably doesn't seem like much of an exciting, must-see thrill, but it is a fun botanical highlight that will teach you plenty about Spanish flora and treat you to a beautiful view over Barceloneta Beach and the harbour. 

But first, breakfast baby.

Cosmo is a contemporary art space and café with a pretty simple and sweet menu.

It's got that cool arty vibe which Sarah and I love wherever we go. It was the perfect space for a quick morning snack and brew before heading to La Sagrada Familia.

Sure, as I said, major tourist spots are not my thing but they're tourist spots for a reason. They're worth seeing for their beauty and history - just don't hang around for too long or you'll undoubtedly have a "death by selfie stick" moment.

I mean, look at all those people and backpacks.

La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's famously unfinished Basilica (work began 135 years ago!), is the main highlight of Barcelona and so a trip to the city without seeing this work of art would be a great shame.

My sister and I didn't manage to squeeze it in last time, but I am so incredibly glad I've now finally seen it. Honestly, there's nothing like it. Sarah and I quite literally stood and gazed in awe for what seemed like forever. We understood why it's taken so long to complete and why Gaudi is so highly praised as an architect as the detail in La Sagrada Familia is unreal. It's so intricate, Gothic and grand in every nook and cranny.

The surrounding gardens, which reminded me very much of the Jardins des Tuilieries in Paris, are rather beautiful too.

The cranes will be lingering around until its estimated completion date of 2028 - a year I shall definitely be re-visiting to see the finished beauty of work.

Post-Basilica, we found ourselves hiking up a hill, in the most stifling heat both of us have ever experienced, to Jardins De Mossen Costa I Llobera.

A.K.A Cactus Paradise.

Located on the Montjuic hillside, this garden is the perfect calm escape from the swarming city. It specialises in desert, sub-desert, mountainous and tropical plantlife so there's a wide feast of flora fun to feast your eyes (and camera) on. 

There are over 800 different types of Cacti (who knew that many even existed!) and many other similar species that call the Mossen gardens their home. It's an absolutely huge space - walking around its entirety is almost next to impossible.

The garden paths and stariways zig-zag around the plantlife on different levels, offering varying views of the gardens and in fact the beach.

The cacti here really is so beautiful and since entry is free of charge, I see no reason not to visit!

However if you do wish to pop along, I'd recommend visiting before or after midday as, due to its location, the temperature on this hill can rise up to 2'C higher than in town. Those two degrees make all the difference - Sarah and I were in desperate need for water and shade afterwards.

Enter: Bacoa.

A.K.A Burger Heaven.

Just like Surf House I mentioned earlier in the week, this casual and hip little joint is also situated on the beachfront, offering some rather lovely people-watching and sea views.

And the menu is insanely fun and innovative. You grab a pencil and one of the menus and tick off what you'd like in your burger, what type of bun you fancy and so on. It's a bit of a 'build-a-burger' that works so well for this kind of place.

I had the beef burger with Swiss cheese, potato rosti and bacon with French fries. So healthy.

All finished off with gelato at Ice Box (which happens to be part of a pretty hip surf shop, take a look inside for some cool finds!)

A few hours later after spending the afternoon on the sandy beach, we found ourselves sky high and on our way home.

Barcelona - I will always love you! Thank you for another amazing trip!
And thanks to Sarah for some beautiful, fun memories too.

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