WHISTLESTOP TOUR OF BRISTOL


I am just back from a couple of nights in Bristol, catching up with a school friend and enjoying my first visit to this fabulous city.  I had always heard glowing reports of it and I was not disappointed.  Sadly the pictures don't really do it justice as although we avoided any rain the weather was rather grey.  We stayed in the Clifton area, renting a small apartment and making the most of this beautiful part of the city.


We ventured through the leafy areas, past the famous downs and Bristol zoo into Clifton Village to view Brunel's famous Clifton suspension bridge and enjoy the many Georgian buildings that this area abounds with.  The Village itself is so pretty with many boutiques, quirky shops and places to eat or enjoy a relaxing coffee.


Bristol is an easy city to walk so you can take in  much of it's stunning architecture and history and it abounds with green spaces and pretty areas.


Top of our list to visit was the Harbourside which covers an extensive area incorporating loads of bustling bars, restaurants, art installations, historic attractions and places to visit.  Bristol has been a trading port since the 11th century but is probably most known for its involvement in the slave trade which is featured in the M Shed museum.  It was also home to John Cabot who discovered Newfoundland in 1497 and a replica of his boat, The Matthew, is moored in the Harbour.


We were particularly keen to visit the SS Great Britain which is another Brunel's engineering feats.  We caught the little ferry across from the other bank and instead of immediately boarding the ship  we went into the dry dock to view the incredibly preserved hull of the ship.


It is really cleverly done and you can look up to view the bow of the ship from below.  There is a giant dehumidifier that ensures the air is kept to the perfect level of humidity to preserve the ship and stop the rust developing further.


The interior of the ship has been restored and you can walk through the first class suites and dining area through the kitchen and into steerage class where you truly understand what the journey must have been like sailing to America. They even have sounds and smells wafting through the ship for added affect. To think that this ship sailed the world 32 times since the mid 1800's,  including navigating the treacherous Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope, only retiring in 1933 is incredible and a testament to the amazing engineer that Brunel was.


On our last day we made our way to the Old City with its cobbled streets and little alleyways to see some of Bristols oldest buildings, with particular focus on St Nicholas Market and Cabot Tower.  The Tower offers far reaching views of the city but as the weather was grey and misty we didn't venture up the the top.


The glass covered St Nicks market, which dates from the 1700s. was a real treat with is array of independent traders and cafes. We enjoyed a lovely traditional brunch at the Be Natural Kitchen but there is every type of cuisine on offer in the market so visitors are spoilt for choice.


We finished our trip with walk through the arts quarter and up the Christmas Steps before heading back to Temple Meads station and our respective train journeys home.


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