48 hours in Bristol – 48 things to do!

© The Milk Thistle.
© The Milk Thistle.

Have you ever been to Bristol – Let’s eat & drink ’till the cows come home!

My second glorious press trip to England. Yes, I’m going to Bristol & Bath. Yippee!

But first, did you know that:

I thought I would put Shaun the Sheep in for light relief, in Bristol LOL!
I thought I would put Shaun the Sheep in for light relief, in Bristol LOL!
  • 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!
I'm sorry but I look amazing! © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I’m sorry but I look amazing!
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

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!

© The Cowshed.
© The Cowshed.
  • 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!

Banksy in Bristol.

  • 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!
Redcliffe Sunset in Bristol. © Gary Newman
Redcliffe Sunset in Bristol.
© Gary Newman
  • 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!
The Crucible at the Bristol Old Vic in Bristol with Daniel Weyman as Rev Hale and Dean Lennox Kelly as John Proctor. © Geraint Lewis.
The Crucible at the Bristol Old Vic in Bristol with Daniel Weyman as Rev Hale and Dean Lennox Kelly as John Proctor.
© Geraint Lewis.
  • 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.

Jane Eyre at the Bristol Old Vic. © Manuel Harlan.
Jane Eyre at the Bristol Old Vic.
© Manuel Harlan.

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.

Dean Lennox Kelly
Dean Lennox Kelly

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.

A Whippy 99 flake ice cream! © wouldliketoeat.wordpress.com
A Whippy 99 flake ice cream!
© wouldliketoeat.wordpress.com
  • 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!
©Brunel's ss Great Britain in Bristol.
©Brunel’s ss Great Britain in Bristol.

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!

Myself "sailing" Brunel's ss Great Britain in Bristol.
Myself “sailing” Brunel’s ss Great Britain in Bristol.

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.
A speakeasy at the Hyde & Co. in Bristol.
A speakeasy in Bristol. ©Hyde & Co.
  • 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.
A bottle of sherry from Harvey's Bristol Cream.
A bottle of sherry from Harvey’s Bristol Cream!
  • 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 the Milk Thistle in Bristol.
©The Milk Thistle in Bristol.
  • 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!

 

 A glass of champagne at the Avon Gorge Hotel, Bristol.

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.

Yay!

Sausages and a meat pie at the AspirePlus Airport Lounge in Bristol.
Sausages and a meat pie at the AspirePlus Airport Lounge in Bristol.

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you have any questions about Bristol or Bath, let me know!

November is going to be frosty!

Watch this space!

48 hours in Bristol - 48 things to do!

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.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Advertisements

How to Spend 48 Hours in London – 6 Easy Ways!

 

I Love London! @ Annie's Cupcakes
I Love London!
@ Annie’s Cupcakes

Last week, I suggested that I would be going to London, and indeed I did. As a British person, I know London. I mean it’s the capital of the UK after all. However, since moving to Berlin, it’s amazing how many people I’ve met who believe that they could never go to London ‘cos it’s too expensive.

It’s true that London isn’t Bielefeld, but it’s a far cry from Tokyo! With a little planning and a lot of luck, it can be done. Here’s how:

Use alternative transport: Take the bus!
Use alternative transport: Take the bus!

1.    Take alternative transport: Flights are cheap but if you don’t like flying or want to do more shopping than is airport-acceptable, then you’re either going to have to take your car and a ferry, take a train, or take a coach (bus) and a ferry. I decided to journey with a German travel company called MANGO tours. They describe themselves as “a cheap and comfortable travel” company and include transport, hotel and breakfast! Due to work complications, I had to cancel my original trip to Amsterdam (sigh!), and in order to avoid a hefty cancellation fee, they offered me a trip to London instead! This would mean travelling to West Germany in order to catch up with the travel company as they couldn’t pick me up in Berlin.

To sweeten the deal they offered me my own room and paid for my five and a half hour coach (bus) journey to Osnabrück instead. The guide – Henrik – was friendly enough and the clientele were pretty mixed. Ranging from a bunch of long-haired, long-bearded hard-rock metal American guys to a couple of French girls. At least twenty people were over 35, and some had pre-teenaged children with them. I also spied a few 20-something girls with at least one parent and a group of friends who all sat at the back but were enormously quiet. So not your normal 18-year-old then!

Good German beer!

Being that it’s Germany, beer was sold on the bus or you could bring your own. No worries!

The hotels are never really centrally based but easy enough to reach by public transport, and always a few minutes from a train station. In this case – Wembley Park Station. I was amazed that my nightmare of a tiny, grotty single bed was actually an upgrade to an en-suite private double room with a full English breakfast. Our hotel choices were Quality Hotel and the Holiday Inn.

Not too shabby. Thanks MANGO tours.

Book your hotel here!

My bedroom.
My bedroom.

2.    Go to a market: London has a wide variety of lovely markets to suit all interests and pockets. Some of the best are: Convent Garden market, Camden Lock Market, Brick Lane Market, Borough Market, Greenwich Market, Old Spitalfields Market, Portobello Road Market and Neal’s Yard. I decided to go to Carnaby Street Market.

Hip Carnaby Street.
Hip Carnaby Street.

From as far back as a 100 years ago, Carnaby Street had always been a magnet for creative people and Bohemians, as the area was and is, slap-dash right near the centre of London’s West End, the theatres and the galleries. It was finally in the 1960’s when “Swinging London” was born that Carnaby Street became the place to be and thus “hip and trendy London”. The boutiques, the Mods, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, all these fascinating people were here and made Carnaby Street cool and a bit of a dive.

Carnaby Street Market in London.
Carnaby Street Market in London.

Carnaby Street is still as bohemian as it comes, with lots of independent shops, crazy fashion, and organic food. A bit like my area in Berlin then!

Me, myself & I in London!
Me, myself & I in London!

3.    Go shopping: You can’t be in London if you haven’t emptied your purse and wallet. At least a little bit. And there’s plenty to choose from! Go to Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street, Selfridges, Harrods, Topshop, Liberty’s, Hamley’s, Mulberry, Whistles, Heal’s, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols, etc.

Selfridges &Topshop!
Selfridges &Topshop!

The last time I came to London, I popped into Selfridges and came out with two dresses and a pair of shoes! This time as my visit wasn’t a shopping one, I wandered around as you do and went into Reiss. Reiss is a British fashion brand that has a strong focus on quality and detail. Just what you expect from a UK label. It’s not cheap I’m afraid, but I have a suit and a dress in my wardrobe from Reiss and since it was the sales….I bought a cream dress for the office, with an original price of £179 dropped to £49. Bought!

REISS!
REISS!

I almost had a heart attack over my dress though as it began to rain heavily and I just managed to save my lovely cream dress as the paper bag it came in, fell apart. I was so worried that my red leather gloves would stain my dress, that I went back to my hotel and had a large cup of tea!

It was raining! ©2012-2016 Pamba
It was raining!
©2012-2016 Pamba

4.    Go to the theatre, show, musical or comedy: Whenever I’m in London, I always look forward to watching something different. I was going to see something at the National Theatre but as they’re going to be showing in Berlin as part of a worldwide selection of productions, I decided to opt for a musical instead. A Bollywood musical called The Merchants of Bollywood at the Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre.

The Merchants of Bollywood.
The Merchants of Bollywood.

I was lucky enough to receive a complimentary ticket from the Sadler’s Wells Theatre. They were so generous and even gave me two. Thank you so much Sadler’s Wells as this was my very first complimentary show!

Now for those who know me, know that I love Asia and Asian stuff, so watching a live Bollywood production on stage, really made my day. In this case, my night! The Merchants of Bollywood is a theatrical dance extravaganza about the troubles and tribulations of the Merchant family dynasty, based in India. The production was pretty amazing and located itself in the traditional dessert and customs of Rajasthan to the fast-paced golden era of India’s film industry, Bollywood. The costumes were glamorous, the music was out there, the dancing was impressive and well-known. They even encouraged people to dance along in the second half of the show and the speed of dancing and choreography was creative and exhilarating.

The Merchants of Bollywood.
The Merchants of Bollywood.

The show used a fusion of classical, folk, modern, Western and Indian dance styles with a twist of modern blending and wow, they all looked colourful, hot and energetic. Even the character playing the grandfather! I loved it.

You don’t need to be a native-speaker of either Hindi or English to enjoy the show. All you need is an appreciation of a love story, sacrifice, rebellion, and at the heart of the story – a love of dancing.

The Merchants of Bollywood.
The Merchants of Bollywood.

If you’re in London in the next few weeks, go see it. Having said that they’re always on tour so you’re bound to find them at a major city near you!

Watch it!

5.    Go to a museum: Most, if not all, Britain’s museums and galleries are free. That’s right!

Free!

I wanted to go to a museum that I hadn’t been to before and hit on the The Geffrye Museum of the Home. This museum does what it says on the tin and is devoted to the history of the home, showing how homes and gardens reflect changes in society, behaviour, style and taste over the past 400 years. It also explores the home from 1600 to the present day, focusing on the living rooms of the urban middle classes in England, particularly London.

Oil on panel painting, depicting a family scene in a domestic interior. 1815-1820. © Geffrye Museum, London
Oil on panel painting, depicting a family scene in a domestic interior. 1815-1820.
© Geffrye Museum, London

I’ve always been a sucker for museums and galleries that show how people actually used to live. This explains my love for the Manchester Science and Industry Museum, the People’s Story in Edinburgh and our very own, The German History Museum, in Berlin.

The museum shows a series of period rooms and how such homes have been used and furnished over particular periods, reflecting changes in society and patterns of behaviour as well as style, fashion and taste.

I had wanted to join a special tour of the restored historic almshouse which had been fully restored to its original condition. This tour would have offered a rare glimpse into the lives of London’s poor and elderly in former times and takes place only once a month, but I missed it by 15 minutes. I couldn’t wait for the next tour, two hours later as I had another appointment, it was raining again, and I broke a part of my camera!

The lovely Geffrye Museum of the Home in London!
The lovely Geffrye Museum of the Home in London!

6.    Go on a walking tour: Most specifically, a free walking tour. As you recall in my previous post about Edinburgh , walking tours are a delight especially, a free one! I picked a different company this time – Free tours by Foot.

I chose them ‘cos they were doing a rather unusual tour. A tour of the City of London. Known as “The Square Mile”, which is the old and original City of London. With borders nearly unchanged since the Middle Ages, it encompasses the area’s history since the Romans. Our group consisted of South American, Italian, and French tourists, one German and myself!

My namesake - Queen Victoria!
My namesake – Queen Victoria!

Charles – our guide – was a knowledgeable Masters students who was able to inform the group about the fascinating history of why the Knights Templars are so-called, Temple Inn, the Financial District, Money, History, Kings & Queens, the majestic dome of St. Paul’s, through the alleys and through the centuries, to the representation of the new millennium and finally ending at Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

Our meeting point was the Temple Station and the tour was a name-your-own-price walking tour which you do by tipping discreetly at the end. A great idea whether you have very little money or quite a bit. Hopefully, reasonable payment will balance itself out.

Have a beer on me!
Have a beer on me!
  • For more information on budget travel contact MANGO tours (in German). I paid €169 but prices range between €79 and €184 per person
  • For more information about the British fashion brand contact: Reiss
  • For more information about the show. Contact: The Merchants of Bollywood. Prices range from £18 – £45 with a 20% discount if you buy at least two tickets or more. Very family friendly
  • For more information about the museum contact: The Geoffrye Museum of the Home. Prices are wonderfully free and the special tour will cost an extra £2.50
  • For more information on the walking tour contact: Free tours by Foot. Price. Absolutely nothing except a tip!
How to Spend 48 Hours in London – 6 Easy Ways!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

So there you have it! 48 hours in London and very little money spent!

HOW TO SPEND 48 HOURS IN LONDON – 6 EASY WAYS!

At 10 Downing Street in London!
At 10 Downing Street in London!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a complimentary theatre ticket, all opinions are my absolute own.

What would you do in London? How would you budget a weekend? Have you ever been to London? What was it like? If you haven’t, why not and what are you waiting for?

London at Harrods!
London at Harrods!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!