Written by Joy S on 20 Aug, 2012
We stayed in Bristol for 3 nights and ate out in a different restaurant each evening. We had 2 meals that we really enjoyed and would recommend, but one evening we were very disappointed and would not go back to that particular restaurant.The first…Read More
We stayed in Bristol for 3 nights and ate out in a different restaurant each evening. We had 2 meals that we really enjoyed and would recommend, but one evening we were very disappointed and would not go back to that particular restaurant.The first evening we ate out in Bordeaux Quay. This is one of the restaurants that overlooks the Floating Harbour. It has an outdoor eating area overlooking the water, and a big restaurant on 2 floors inside. We ate here on a trip to Bristol last year, thoroughly enjoyed it and decided to return. We were not disappointed.This year we ate inside the restaurant - it was raining and cool. It is a very stylish, cool and contemporary place. As well as a restaurant, they have a cookery school and emphasise that their meals and ingredients are all sustainably sourced. There are lovely views out over the water, with all the boats coming and going and it is also a great place to people watch. The atmosphere in the restaurant was relaxed and we really enjoyed the food. My husband had mussels, I had duck leg confit with beetroot and new potatoes and our son had a small portion of food from the adult menu. The food was delicious, very well presented and the service was excellent too. It was not the cheapest option, but in our view definitely worth the money.The second evening we ate at the Spyglass Restaurant. This is called a barbeque restaurant and is on a converted barge on one of the canals. It has a wonderful setting and has the potential to be a lovely place, but it did not live up to this for us.The interior of the restaurant is lovely - there are cushions and blankets on the chairs and it is styled very nicely. However, despite being called a BBQ restaurant, I saw no evidence of a barbeque. We were the only people in there, and walking past the next evening it was empty as well. The menu was plain, but fine. I ordered mussels, about 10 minutes later the waitress came back and said they had no mussels. I then asked for crab and was told there was no crab either!! The options were steak or chicken.When the food did come, it was bland, presented in a very bland and average way and definitely disappointing. This place should have been wonderful, but the food let it down.On our last evening we ate in a bar/restaurant called The Hole In the Wall. This is just off Queen's Square and is very easy to find. It had a buzzing atmosphere in the bar downstairs, the restaurant upstairs was quiet, but there were a few people dining there.Apparently the pub was named after a spy hole that 18th century sailors and smugglers used to keep watch for customs men and press gangs. The service was very good, and we opted for a special they had on Fridays - "Fizz and Fins" which meant if you ordered a fish dish, you got a bottle of champagne for £20.00. I ordered mussels which were delicious and the champagne went down very well. Everyone in our party thoroughly enjoyed their meal, the atmosphere was lovely and I would recommend this place without hesitation. Close
We had really wanted to take a boat trip in Bristol. The city centre is interwoven so much with the old floating harbour, that I felt this really is a must-do here. There are lots of boats used as pleasure craft and it…Read More
We had really wanted to take a boat trip in Bristol. The city centre is interwoven so much with the old floating harbour, that I felt this really is a must-do here. There are lots of boats used as pleasure craft and it seemed like a really good way of getting around - as well as a way to see a lot of interesting sights from a different angle.The harbour in Bristol is only nowadays actually used by pleasure boats and small working craft. It is, though, still, as in days gone by, very much the heart of this city.There are several options for a boat trip. Having researched them, we found that Bristol Ferry Boat runs several ferry services around the harbour and stops at various quays en route. It also provides a commuter service between the city centre and the main railway station.We decided we wanted to take a ride with The Bristol Packet. They offer tours of the docks with commentaries during school holidays and at weekends all through the year.When we arrived at the departure point, we were really disappointed to find we had missed their last boat by just a couple of minutes. The last boat leaves at 3.30, so they do not carry on, as I had expected, all through the afternoon.We walked a little way further on, thinking we had missed out on a boat trip, when we saw a man with a sign advertising boat trips around the harbour. We decided to go with him - I was actually glad we had done so. There was no commentary, but the boat was very comfortable - seats with tables and covered over, and took the same route as all the others. We paid £13.00 for a round trip - this was for 2 adults, 2 seniors and 1 child - very reasonable I thought.The boat trip gave really lovely views of the quays and wharves, old warehouses, bridges and cranes that are all reminders of Bristol's maritime history.I had wanted a trip with a commentary, but in hindsight thought this was just as good. It was lovely to sit without someone else telling you what you are looking at, and just absorb the sights and views.We went as far as the SS Great Britain, where 3 other people on the boat got off. We then had it all to ourselves for the rest of the trip. We went down to Temple Meads station and then all the way back to our starting point. The whole trip lasted about 45 minutes and was relaxing and enjoyable. Close
Written by Joy S on 19 Aug, 2012
Clifton Village is a suburb of the city of Bristol. We visited the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge which spans the Avon Gorge from Clifton on one side to Leigh Woods on the other side. We decided to have a stroll around this area,…Read More
Clifton Village is a suburb of the city of Bristol. We visited the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge which spans the Avon Gorge from Clifton on one side to Leigh Woods on the other side. We decided to have a stroll around this area, and were very pleased we had done so. It is a lovely place to wander and soak up the very genteel atmosphere.Clifton was actually once an aloof spa resort. Now it is perhaps one of the most elegant quarters of Bristol. We found free parking on the street, left our car there and just wandered. Everything centres on the Mall, close to Royal York Crescent. This is actually the longest Georgian crescent in the country. The buildings are all beautiful, a bit reminiscent of nearby Bath. Lots of stone terraces and wonderful Georgian design, it all felt very civilised and grand.There are lots of quirky and unusual shops. Clifton is well known for its boutiques, antique shops and smart craft shops. There are lots of little lanes and squares to explore, each one with its own identity and wealth of unusual shops.As well as all the Georgian buildings, there is a lot of green space and parkland in Clifton. We found a lovely playground for our son to run around and let off some steam, before we climbed to the top of the hill for wonderful views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. If you follow the signs to the Camera Obscura, you get to the top of the hill.It is also definitely worth paying a visit to the Camera Obscura and the Giant's Cave. We paid £8 for 2 adults and a child to go inside. There are 65 steps up to the Camera Obscura, once in the darkened room, you get a unique view of Clifton and the bridge. It is fun and unusual and we all enjoyed this.We then walked back to the entrance and walked down 135 steps underground to the Giant's Cave. It is a real cave, but was once only accessible by scaling down the sheer cliff face. Nowadays you visit via a tunnel. The steps are extremely uneven, steep, very slippery and it is a narrow walk. At one point I wondered just what we were doing here. When you emerge at the cave, and then go outside to look at the bridge from yet another angle, it makes it worthwhile. Only tackle this though, if you are wearing sturdy shoes and I would not bring young children here.We spent half a day in Clifton enjoying the sights. I would definitely recommend a visit here if you are staying in Bristol. It gives another side to this wonderful city. Close
Written by Joy S on 23 Aug, 2011
* There are a number of tourist information centres and outlets in Bristol. The main one is in the centre of the At Bristol complex on the harbour side. They can book tours, trips, theatre tickets etc. and have details and timetables…Read More
* There are a number of tourist information centres and outlets in Bristol. The main one is in the centre of the At Bristol complex on the harbour side. They can book tours, trips, theatre tickets etc. and have details and timetables for the ferries.* Crime levels are low. We found it had a lovely atmosphere in the evening and had no issue wandering around later on at night. Apparently though, the St Pauls area is best avoided at night. We thought the whole of the old town and the harbour was fine.* The weather is very changeable. We had driving rain one morning and it was very drak and gloomy, but the afternoon was so gloriously hot and sunny, we could barely believe it. Bristol is one of the warmer cities in Britain. The best time to go is in summer. June to September is usually warm and bright, average temperatures are just above 20 degrees. Autumn and winter are wetter and colder, but the city does have seasonal charm. Bristol does not really have an off-season, and I can see how you could visit it any time of year. Apparently the Christmas festivities are very good. The quietest time is January to mid March.* Accommodation can be expensive, but there are a large number of hotels to choose from. It is a thriving financial city, so hotel rates are often higher during the week. Book in advance and choose a weekend break and you should be able to find a good deal.* The harbourside is a tourist attraction in its on right.* Most sights can be visited on foot. A bus or taxi is needed though to reach the Clifton neighbourhood. The harbourside and old city areas are really best explored on foot. There are lots of attractive walking routes along the quayside and the central streets are mostly pedestrianised. Do be aware though, that the city is very hilly and some of the cobbled quays are very uneven.* Visitbristol has free maps of the city. You can also get them from hotels and tourist offices. Several MP3 walking tours of Bristol are also downloadable. * There is plenty of NCP car parking and street parking. Cheaper street parking is in short supply in the centre though. The traffic is also very heavy - taxis can thus be expensive.* We mainly explored Bristol by walking - you can also take a sightseeing bus or the other option is from the water. From Temple Meads station, a ferry runs through the city and around the harbour, you would get a fine view of the quays and wharfs, old warehouses, bridges and cranes. Close
Written by Joy S on 22 Aug, 2011
We were going on holiday in southern England and decided to break the long journey by stopping off in Bristol for a couple of days. This is the West Country's biggest city. It is 120 miles west of London and just across the…Read More
We were going on holiday in southern England and decided to break the long journey by stopping off in Bristol for a couple of days. This is the West Country's biggest city. It is 120 miles west of London and just across the Bristol Channel from Wales. I knew it as being famous for its maritime history, but was surprised to find it offered a large and diverse range of attractions, and is a wonderful place for a short break. In recent years, Bristol has become one of England's most vibrant areas and there is a thriving cultural scene. There are buzzing bars, lots of restaurants and cafes, beautiful architecture, wonderful hotels and excellent shopping. It ranks 4th in England's top visitor attractions.Bristol is a historic inland port, linked to the sea by the River Avon. It has seafaring traditions and many links with the colonisation of America. It was always a port and trading town, but after John Cabot sailed from here with his son Sebastian in 1497, claiming the "New Found Land" for Henry VIII, Bristol looked to the New World for imports.The 17th and 18th centuries were a prosperous time for the city and Bristol became the foremost port for trade with North America. The merchants of Bristol exploited the New World. They made fortunes from sugar, rum, tobacco and slaves. The construction of the Floating Harbour in the 19th century provided much needed extra moorings, but trade declined. Slavery was abolished and this contributed greatly, but in addition, manoeuvring bigger ships up the tidal Avon was too tricky.Bristol was the home of William Penn, developer of Pennsylvania and a haven for John Wesley, whose Methodism movement played an important role in colonial Georgia. You can visit the New Room in Bristol - John Wesley's chapel and first headquarters.In the 19th century, Bristol became synonymous with engineering and the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Engineering projects here included the Great Western Railway, two ships - the SS Great Britain and the SS Great Western and the Clifton Suspension Bridge - now the symbol of the city.We absolutely loved wandering around the old part of the city in the evenings. There are many lovely old buildings, but also lots of hidden alleys and quaint cobbled streets. Be sure to look out for the Corn Exchange and the Nails. The Corn Exchange was built in 1743 and has a clock on the front that tells the time in Greenwich Mean Time and Bristol Old Time. Before the Corn Exchange was built, business was conducted in the street. Merchants completed money transactions on 4 flat topped bronze pillars or "nails" which are still standing on Corn Street. The oldest one dates back to the 16th century. This is the origin of the expression "paying on the nail."Also look out for the Llandoger Trow - a beautiful old half-timbered inn on King Street. It was renowned as a haunt of smugglers and pirates in the 18th century. It was also supposedly the inspiration for the Spyglass Inn in the novel Treasure Island. The inn was the meeting place for Daniel Defoe and Alexander Selkirk - the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe.The city's industries no longer rely on the docks, so the historic harbour along the River Avon has been handed over to recreation and the harbourside is again the floating jewel in Bristol's crown. Again it is a vibrant and exciting place to be - day or night. Many of the city's attractions are on or close to the harbour - I would recommend staying in a hotel in this area.We loved Bristol - the picturesque harbour, lovely Georgian streets and beautiful setting on the River Avon make it a place we want to return to. It is such a lively city, full of energy and excitment and left us wanting to come back and explore some more. Close
Written by captain oddsocks on 07 Feb, 2008
Banksy is possibly the world’s most famous graffiti artist. He’s been variously described as an "elusive art terrorist", "shadowy", "a streetwise scourge of the establishment" and has painted and stencilled across several continents, most famously on the Palestinian side of the Jerusalem wall. His work…Read More
Banksy is possibly the world’s most famous graffiti artist. He’s been variously described as an "elusive art terrorist", "shadowy", "a streetwise scourge of the establishment" and has painted and stencilled across several continents, most famously on the Palestinian side of the Jerusalem wall. His work has also hung, albeit briefly, in some of the major galleries of the world, including the Tate, the Louvre and the New York Metropolitan. While Banksy’s identity remains a secret and he rarely gives interviews, it is certain that he’s from Bristol. While his work is gradually disappearing from the city’s streets and lanes, some of the larger paintings have become prominent and popular local landmarks.Up on Stokes Croft, the Mild, Mild West mural; a teddy bear aiming a Molotov cocktail at riot police, faces one of the main roads as it approaches central Bristol, and tells the story of heavy handed police treatment of the soft and cuddly Bristol dance music subculture that nurtured artists like Massive Attack, Roni Size and Portishead.A more recent mural faces the bottom of busy Park Street as it approaches College Green and the Bristol cathedral. Five or six metres above ground level, a fully-clothed and angry man peers out the window while his semi clad wife tries to calm him and her as yet unseen lover dangles by his fingertips from the window sill. If you’re anything like me, you’re first reactions will be "ha, that’s funny", quickly followed by "how the heck did he get up there?"Another Banksy stencil that has survived in the centre is on the side of the Thekla, which is an old German warship that’s now used as an entertainment venue and is moored just upstream from the Arnolfini and the Mud dock café on the floating harbour. From the other side of the river you can see Banksy’s grim reaper rowing along in a canoeFinding more Banksy stencils will require a bit of walking and the area around the teddy bear mural, just north of the centre up to Picton Street, is a good place to start. Not only will you spot Banksy works like the statue of liberty dancing the can-can and holding an assault rifle, there’s also plenty of other good graffiti in the neighbourhood.Some of the other graffiti is obviously just as political as some of Banksy’s work, but there are lots of styles and some of the pubs and nightclubs have invited graffiti artists to decorate their buildings. The result is a colourful and vibrant neighbourhood that’s a delight to walk around, especially if your wanderings mean that you end up near the Bristolian café on Picton Street and you have time to pop in there for a cuppa. Close
Written by GB from Devizes on 17 Nov, 2004
The City of Bristol is the centre of its own Unitarian authority, basically meaning that it governs itself and is regarded as a county in its own right. It is situated on the banks of the Severn Estuary, and in days gone by, ranked alongside…Read More
The City of Bristol is the centre of its own Unitarian authority, basically meaning that it governs itself and is regarded as a county in its own right. It is situated on the banks of the Severn Estuary, and in days gone by, ranked alongside London and Liverpool as one of the busiest ports in Britain.
It has population of around half a million and is the largest city in the west part of England, with major industries, including aircraft manufacture (Rolls Royce and British Aerospace), chemicals, and heavy engineering, plus it is a major port of entry for cars, coal, and oil-based products.
In the 10th century it was already a flourishing port, developing rapidly in the 11th century with the increase in wool trade with Ireland. This was further bolstered by the cloth-making industry in the 14th century. In 1497 John and Sebastian Cabot departed from Bristol for America.
Fortunes started to change in the 18th century with the demise of the cloth trade, but this was replaced quickly with the slave trade and business in general, with the Americas supplying metal processed in the city.
Things took a decidedly turn for the worse in the 19th century when the slave trade was abolished, and Bristol suffered hugely from competition from the likes of Liverpool, all this leading to a period of economic decline from which the docks never really recovered.
A slight reprieve was instigated with the arrival of the railway in 1841, with newer industries sprouting, such as brewing and tobacco, both of which, nowadays, have fallen by the wayside as the large multi-national companies have consolidated their operations to remain competitive.
Today, modern Bristol is a city undergoing a renaissance, with the old being swept away to make room for the modern industries upon which the city has built its reputation.
An endearing and lasting image for me will always be the sight of Concorde returning home to Bristol for the last time, where it was conceived, built, and tested, flying over the Clifton Suspension Bridge as a salute to Brunel and as a tribute to the engineering history of this fine city.
Written by Hotwellian on 22 Apr, 2002
The Cabot Tower stands on Brandon Hill overlooking the heart of the city. It was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Cabot's voyage of discovery to Newfoundland. Admission is free and it is worth the somehwat breathless climb to get…Read More
The Cabot Tower stands on Brandon Hill overlooking the heart of the city. It was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Cabot's voyage of discovery to Newfoundland. Admission is free and it is worth the somehwat breathless climb to get great views over the Floating Harbour, seeing the SS Great Britain and the replica Matthew built to celebrate the 500th Cabot anniversary. The surrounding park is also the home of the Avon Wildlife Trust who have encouraged interesting semi-wild areas. Close