Well what a surprise! There were a number of reasons why we came to Bristol last Friday, not least to tie in with other things that we were doing over the weekend that led us to fighting zombies on Sunday morning (but that’s a separate review altogether), so Bristol is where we ended up for the start of my wife’s surprise birthday weekend (she had no idea where we were going or what we were doing, I even had to pack for her). We were genuinely surprised by the city itself, it was lovely.
We stayed at the Radisson Blu, right in the city centre, overlooking the main square and the north end of the floating harbour, with views of the Watershed and the Cathedral. After arriving, we went for a wander round some of the spots that I’d looked at while I was researching the weekend. Firstly the Cathedral, which was big and imposing, but without the “wow” factor of some. It was still impressive though, as Cathedrals generally are. With Tesco butties in hand, we strolled back across the main square and up to Nelson Street to look at the graffiti art that’s adorning every inch of available wall space along that particular road. Mightily impressive stuff.
From there, we just relied on my in-built compass to guide us. The good thing I found about the city centre is that it’s quite compact, and not easy to get lost, with the river and the floating harbour pretty much being around every corner. So you always knew pretty much where you were. And there’s plenty of maps at road junctions, so you can soon work out where you are if you’re unsure. So a stroll along the side of the harbour, across the swing bridge and on to the M-Shed museum, which is free and very interesting, with lots of interactive exhibits, as well as the remnants of the industrial side of the harbour preserved outside, cranes, railway lines and trucks etc. A thoroughly entertaining place that’s well worth a visit.
We continued on the see the SS Great Britain, which we looked at from outside. We declined to pay to go on board, as we felt the £13 entry fee was a little steep for what it was and we were also starting to get pushed for time. Another time perhaps.
So back along the harbour we went, and crossed over to the other side after watching the swing bridge in action. We were on the hunt for somewhere to eat later, and I’d been recommended “ZaZa Bazaar”, which we went to look at. Unfortunately, my wife has an issue with “buffet” restaurants, and didn’t fancy it, which is a shame because it looked like it might be a bit of a crazy place!
After a quick wander around Millennium Square and a glance at the cafés in the Watershed, we ended up back at the hotel and decided to eat at Fellinis, the restaurant in the hotel. It was excellent and very reasonable, and just the thing to fuel our evening, which started at the Hippodrome over the road, for the touring production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. No complaints there, very entertaining and thoroughly recommended.
After the show finished, we wandered round trying to find a quiet pub for a nightcap, but we couldn’t find anything that wasn’t either packed or overly trendy and full of kids, so we ended up back at the hotel bar for a couple of drinks before retiring to bed. Although we might have had a cheeky glass of red in the room with a film before we finally went to bed!
After a fabulous breakfast the following morning we had another nice walk before we had to check out, this time on the other side of the floating harbour, past the Lloyds building and the amphitheatre and on towards the new residential developments at the far end, past the ship “Matthew of Bristol”. Again, thoroughly pleasant and a nice way to spend a couple of hours. Back to the hotel, checked out and onto part two of the weekend, in Worcester.
In conclusion, Bristol’s a lovely city, with plenty to see and do, without that overbearing feeling that you get in London and other large cities. I think we barely scratched the surface in the short time we were there, and we’ve both said we’d return to try and see more of the city and it’s surrounding areas.
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