This weekend I fell in love with another British city, the hipster paradise that is Bristol.
Sitting on the banks of the River Avon, near the Severn estuary, Bristol is a city of contrast, where old and new clash is a wonderful and vibrant manner, where you can go from the grand old cathedral to a small pop-up shop in a caravan in the space of 500 years, where you can find the largest restaurant in the UK sited inside the remnants of the docklands industrial past or where a massive shopping centre wraps around a 13th century Dominican Friary, making it practically impossible not to find something for everyone.
A lot of my friends had raved about just how good Bristol was and how it was well worth a visit, but I never found the time to actually visit and to be fair I only went on Friday because my friend Chloee of Unwritten Hollywood didn’t fancy driving to the original destination of Brighton, we ended up here instead, but given how much I loved the city, I’m happy she didn’t.
Arriving around midday, we decided to find somewhere to eat and after broadcasting to the world where I was heading, my good friend Lindsey from over at Elegant Chaos suggested we try the Za Za Bazaar, a massive world food banqueting hall on the Bristol Harbourside, providing all you can eat Chinese, Tex-Mex, Indian and English dishes on a grand scale, in-fact with its 1000 seats, it boasts the claim to be the UK’s biggest restaurant and surprisingly the scale doesn’t mean they skimp on quality, with all 6 serving stations packed to the gills with different dishes, cooked in front of your eyes by multiple chefs, all for the bargain price of £9.99.
After lunch we set about discovering just what this city has to offer, heading over towards the beautifully gothic Cathedral that dominates the city’s skyline and providing the perfect backdrop for all the people who had decided to head down to the College Green for some sunshine or to hone their skateboarding skills, it’s here where you will find Park Street, a row of quirky shops and restaurants that run between the University and the city centre, passing both Bristol Museum & Art Gallery and Cabot Tower on the way, it’s here that you will find most of the cities trendy and independent shopping establishments.
After making our way to the top of the hill and visiting a few of the more unique shops on Park Street and spotting one of the many Banksy works of art that adjourn the city walls, we headed back down towards the center, stopping of halfway to treat ourselves to a cocktail at Turtle Bay or two given that it happened to be happy hour, this provided just enough time to gauge our surroundings and plan our next move.
After the cocktails, we were ready to continue our exploration of the city centre, this time heading down Claire Street towards the main shopping district of the city, passing a succession of both independent and chain bars, but also the indoor market and clearly well used registry office, before cutting through the 90’s Galleries shopping centre to get to the more recent Cabot Circus, where you will find most of the large chain stores that you’ll find in most towns and cities across the UK, all of which are built around the 13th Century Friary turned pizzeria and overlooking the ruins of Saint Peter’s Church, bombed during the blitz of 1940, it’s maintained as a monument to the civilian war dead of Bristol.
With just enough time to make a quick circuit of the shopping district and pick up some treats from the wonderful Ben’s Cookies, we made our way back to the car, thoroughly worn out from a day of adventure, safe in the knowledge that we will have to return as there is still so much to see and do, be it the Great Western moored at the Dockland museum, the Christmas steps that take you to the Arts quarter or even the world-famous Clifton Suspension Bridge that you pass under as you make your way out of the city towards the M5, I for one will be heading back very soon and seeing what else I shall find on my adventures.
until next time