But first, did you know that:
- Bristol is located just 120 miles west of London.
- It’s the largest city in the south-west of England.
- Bristol is the only UK city to have won the title ‘European Green Capital’ for 2015 and is one of the first cycling cities in the UK too!
- Bath is about 12 miles to the east of the city.
- Bristol is a 45 mile trip across the Bristol Channel to Cardiff in Wales.
- The city is situated on the rivers Frome and Avon.
- Bristol has been a wealthy trading port since the Roman era.
- Bristol is a port city known as the “Birthplace of America”.
- John Cabot sailed from Bristol to help “discover” North America in 1497.
- The city played an important role in England’s maritime trade in tobacco, wine, cotton and more.
- From the late 1600s to the early 1800s, Bristol was involved in a massive slave shipping industry.
- Bristol is a university city of 400,000.
- The infamous pirate Captain Blackbeard once had a hideaway cave under St. Mary Redcliffe church. His original birthplace and childhood home still stands on Bristol’s harbourside.
- Pero’s Bridge is named after Pero Jones, who was the African servant of a plantation owner.
- John Wesley’s New Room in Broadmead, is the oldest Methodist church in the world!
- Hollywood legend Cary Grant (Archibald Leach) was born in Horfield, Bristol. Grant’s first role in theatre was working at The Bristol Hippodrome.
- Bristol is the street party capital of the UK. I know. Bristol!
As you all know by now and if you don’t, whose blog have you been reading? No! Don’t answer that. Back to me!
As you know, I went to Bristol and I stayed there for two days. In short, just 48 hours. I’m sure that I could have stayed for at least a week but time is tight for many of us so I’m going to tell you how I managed it. And if I can do it, so can you!
Yes, I was working in partnership with Visit Bristol but if you’re looking for maps, brochures, addresses and the like, just log onto their website. It’s free and they’re wonderfully helpful.
So without much ado:
48 HOURS IN BRISTOL – 48 THINGS TO DO!
- Go forth and have an English breakfast. As I told you last week, whenever you’re in England or anywhere else in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you must get yourself a full English, Irish, Welsh or Scottish breakfast. If you’re vegetarian, not to worry, just order a veggie English breakfast instead!
- Book a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) rather than a hotel as a B&B has a more distinct British flavour. I went to the boutique Brooks GuestHouse B&B situated right next to the St. Nicholas Market!
- Go on a walking tour: You know how much I like city walking tours here or here! I had my historical walking tour organised by a Blue Badge Guide called Liz Gamlin who even collected me from my B&B! She was lovely and flexible enough to make the walk geared towards my needs. She was also sensitive to my interests, and would stop whenever I wanted to take a photograph of something or needed more info. We got on so well that we eventually left each other about 13:00 instead of 11:30!
- Check out the Street Art: Banksy is huge in Bristol. I didn’t go on a specific street art tour but if you want to, you can contact the guys at The Ultimate Bristol Walking Tour.
- Visit Bristol’s oldest market – the 200-year-old St Nicholas Market and soak up the delights of the vibrant marketplace that has been trading since 1743! I really liked it and bought many nostalgic English gifts!
- Check out the historical buildings. Bristol is centuries old and there’s a lot to see.
- Ramble and stroll through the cobbled streets. Don’t be afraid to go down a narrow off-street path, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.
- Go into The Commercial Rooms or the Cosy Club on Corn Street. I won’t tell you what’s there. Go see for yourself!
- Check out the churches: In pretty much every corner is a church or cathedral sticking out or hidden around the corner!
- Take a harbourside stroll along the floating harbour.
- Have a snack on the river side. What better than with a bag of fish n’ chips!
- Meet some of the locals at a typical old-time historical pub!
- Go to the Old City and check out Norman Bristol, Georgian Bristol and Medieval Bristol which look as they did hundreds of years ago!
- Watch pieces of drama at the Bristol Old Vic. I watched an outstanding performance of The Crucible which was marvellous. I totally loved it.
The Bristol Old Vic is the oldest theatre in Britain and celebrating 250 years with a special year-round anniversary programme that will feature five (5) world-class productions – one from each century of the theatre’s life – as well as a production of a Shakespeare play to mark the 400th anniversary of his death.
With actors like Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, 2016 represents an extraordinary moment in British theatre history.
I’m a lover of the creative arts so this was always going to be something that I would be eager to watch. It was a great performance and surprisingly, the actors came out and mingled with the audience at the end. I’m used to this in Berlin but I’ve never had the luck in England, unless it was a premier night, so I was pleasantly surprised. Saturday, November 7th was effectively, the last performance night and everyone was in a merry mood. I would usually stay and hang out with the cast but was exhausted from the long day, I did however, manage to have a quick chat with the leading actor – Dean Lennox Kelly – who used to be Kev in the original British series Shameless and who I found to be extremely humble as he told me that he couldn’t quite believe that he was performing in such an establishment as that of the Bristol Old Vic.
I found that charming!
- Have a snack or a drink at the Llandoger Trow which was built in 1664 and one of the last timber-built buildings in Bristol! It’s also said to be the inspiration for the Admiral Benbow in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and where Daniel Defoe met his Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk!
- Go on a ghost walking tour!
- Bristol is surrounded by water so take a ferry ride with Bristol Ferry Boats which provides a scheduled water bus service around Bristol’s unique Floating Harbour. Due to Remembrance Day or Armistice Day on 11 November – a day used to remember all the people who died in wars since the Great War or WWI, I decided to sail with the Bristol Packet Boat Trips.
I was the only customer for half the ride but the skipper and his assistant were friendly and chatty and pointed out the best places to take photographs.
- Get yourself a Whippy or a 99 flake ice cream and make sure it has an original chocolate flake bar with raspberry or strawberry syrup on it!
- Go to a museum or gallery. Most of them are completely and utterly free. Hurrah!
- Take a trip to the M Shed which is on the harbourside. It focuses on the history of Bristol and it’s people and is a historic wharf which has been turned into a museum. I only had 1.5 hours there but I certainly could have spent more!
- Visit Brunel’s marvellous ss Great Britain. It’s one of the top 10 attractions in the UK and was voted Bristol’s Number 1 attraction.
I would utterly agree!
If you only have time for one thing, I recommend you do this one! I had a marvellous time sailing the flag, skipping through the decks and imagining what it would have been like to be a passenger on board. It’s got a dockyard museum, a glass sea view of the ship’s hull, a dockyard where you can dress up and take photos, and you can climb up the top deck complete with flags, and then go from deck to deck opening doors and seeing what’s behind them. Some even have sounds and smells!
I liked it so much that I spent three (3) hours there!
- Potter around a vintage or second-hand bookshops.
- Hang out and chat with the locals. I spotted quite a few people in fancy costume and one of them was dressed as Keith Richards in Pirates of the Caribbean!
- Go to fringe theatre performances. Perhaps make a stop at the Tobacco Factory Theatres or the Raucous.
- If you’re into film culture and media and digital technology, then the Watershed is not to be missed!
- I haven’t visited myself but I hear that the riverside restaurant – The Glassboat – is to be considered for that extra something.
- Take a hop-on-hop-off city sightseeing bus and let a local guide provide a unique and personal experience of Bristol.
- Explore British artists and go to the gallery.
- Get yourself a plate of good British grub and chomp on locally served nosh at The Cowshed.
- Have a pint of ale, craft beer or English cider and scrumpy.
- Be creative and search for Bristol’s speakeasies which have secret entrances and payphones to call a waiter, so part of the fun is to find how to get to the entrance in the first place!
- Go unconventional and chase the white rabbit at the Illusions Magic Bar!
- Go to the Old Market Quarter which is home to a great selection of vintage fashion and antique shops and also has strong connections to the LGBT community and popular gay-friendly shops, pubs, bars and clubs.
- Climb up the hill and go to the bohemian village known as Clifton.
- Be an undergraduate for a day and visit the University of Bristol.
- Get a real taste of Bristol’s heritage at Harvey’s Cellars – the home of Harvey’s Bristol Cream – and relax while you fantasise about Bristol’s glorious past!
- Take a discrete peek at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, an independent school for boys and founded in 1586!
- Go for a walk through the huge protected parkland and countryside known as The Downs.
- Gasp over the amazing views and wildlife of the Avon Gorge.
- Have a classy meal or Afternoon Tea at the Avon Gorge Hotel.
- Prepare yourself for the gorgeous unparalleled views of Brunel’s grade-one-listed Clifton Suspension Bridge. A bridge said to be one of the greatest bridges in the world!
- Go for a night out at any of the 101 bars and restaurants dotted about the Old City, the Harbourside, the West End and Broadmead.
- Explore Bristol and hop on a bike.
- Take out your credit card and go shopping at the Bristol Shopping Quarter. You know you want to!
- Be an artist for a day and join in one of Bristol’s biggest and oldest art trails.
- Visit The Harbourside Market which describes itself as ‘no ordinary market’ but an independent alternative to the high street, supporting local creativity and providing a safe space for people to shop, eat and relax within a setting rich with tradition. I saw a few food stalls, arts, crafts. It definitely lives up to it’s name!
- Experience the luxury and glamour of a roof top Retro Rocket. The only one of it’s kind in the UK! More about that next week!
- Have champagne. Why not!
Even though I was invited on this trip as a guest of Visit Bristol all opinions and the sailing experience and skipping that I indulged in, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you and will continue next week with my final post on Bristol!
In December, I’ll be taking part in The Best of Berlin in 48 Hours campaign.
If you have any questions about Bristol or Bath, let me know!
November is going to be frosty!
Watch this space!
Have you ever been to Bristol? Is there anything else you would do on a 48 hour weekend visit to Bristol?
See you in Berlin.