Bridges, Boats, Balloons & Buh-bye Bristol

Bridges, Boats, Balloons & Buh-bye Bristol
Bristol, United Kingdom

Bristol, United Kingdom

Our last day in Bristol didn’t get off to the greatest start – Perry was feeling a bit under the weather, so he had a lie in, while I headed out for a bit of a wander. The first thing I came across was the planetarium in Millennium Square – a great big metallic sphere which was pretty cool looking. Cool in an entirely different sense was a small band performing country music nearby – as in music of the West Country. Yes, the song did actually contain lyrics such as “oo-er, oo-er, where’s me ciderrrrr”. Brilliant.

Next I headed up Park St, the main shopping street, and in Bristol’s find tradition of being the best/first/most of everything, it is apparently the steepest shopping street in Britain. Still, I somehow made it to the top, not before stopping for a good strong coffee and a sausage roll half way through. Having reached the top, or, ‘the triangle’, I checked the map and wandered along another 2km to the wonderful, famous, historic, Clifton Suspension Bridge. Along the way I walked across beautiful terraces (for Clifton is the poshest part of Bristol), a beautiful avenue of trees that bisected a cemetery, and along a street called The Fosseway. (What’s the only way to dance? The Fosse Way!).

And then there it was stretching out in front me – the beautiful, imposing, yet delicate, Clifton Suspension Bridge. Having been designed by Brunel, I was already a fan of it, and it had been great to see it from afar during the Hop On Hop Off bus the other day. But it was wonderful to see it up close, to walk upon it, and see just how high up it is – 101 metres above the water at high tide. Sure enough, it’s a long way down when you look over the edge. The Avon Gorge, which it spans, it just huge, building this bridge across it over 150 years ago must have been one hell of a job. Especially considering bits of it are second-hand – the chains that hold it up were taken from the Hungerford Bridge in London when it demolished to make way for a railway bridge. But enough of the fascinating (?) trivia… Just across the bridge was a Mr Whippy van (yay) selling ‘Cornish Ice Cream’. Now, maybe I’ no great ice cream connoisseur (though I’ve had a LOT of practice!),but dare I say Cornish ice cream tastes suspiciously like normal soft-serve. Not that I’m complaining…after all, it’s ice cream.

I hung around the bridge for a while just soaking up the views and the atmosphere, and watching a number of surprisingly cool cars go by – a TVR, a new Jaguar F-Type, a 1960s Alfa Romeo Spider … a reminder that it’s the posh end of town. Perry had stirred by this point, so I started heading back, this time through The Mall of Clifton town … very Paddington, dahlings – posh shops selling overpriced tat, you know the thing.

Returning to the hotel I stumbled across a market being held pretty much just outside the hotel, around our end of the Floating Harbour. Lucky I happened to look out the window because suddenly there were 7 hot air balloons decorating the lovely blue sky – nice! After all Bristol does the worlds biggest/first/largest/most-est (whichever you feel is most appropriate) Balloon factory, churning out a balloon every day. We left the hotel and went on a little boat cruise around the Floating Harbour for 45 minutes, to see some of the sights without too much effort. The commentary, yet again, had some more of Bristol’s first/most/greatest of everything. This time, it was world’s best / worst pirate Blackbeard, who was Bristol born and bred, apparently. After the cruise the markets were still going so we had some ‘real’ lemonade, delivered into our cups by the magic of solar power – yep, a solar powered lemonade stand, just the thing in a country that gets so much sunshine 🙂 Having said that today was really sunny, I think I even got a little bit sunburnt. It was a glorious day, and according to the forecasts, the last one there is for the rest our time in the UK.

Dinner was at The Stable, allegedly the best Cider Pies and Pizza in Bristol. It was already packed by 6pm when we turned up, so I figure it must be popular. We had a pie, pizza, and a 5 glass cider board sampler. They had about 80 different kinds of cider on offer, so trying 5 was the least we could do. So we quickly learnt a few things about cider – 3 of the 5 were served warm (well, room temperature) out of casks. Two of them were more of the cider I’m used to – cold and a bit fizzy. We both found two of them to be borderline undrinkable – bordering on bad-tasting apple wine vinegar. But three of them were nice, and one (yep a cold fizzy sweet one) was delicious. The pizza and pie, delicious. As was the massive Sundae and Waffles we had at the nearby Sundae shop… yum!

The only minor downside to all this food was that we missed the first few minutes of the brand new season of Doctor Who Yes, as an avowed Dr Who nerd it was great to watch the first episode live on the BBC as soon as it aired. Of course as is normal with Dr Who these days much of it didn’t make a lick of sense but I guess that’s why we have to tune in to all the remaining episodes.

That was about it for the day – now it’s time to re-pack everything and get ready to leave Bristol. If I had my time over again I would have taken one day off our stay in Brighton and added it on to Bristol. It’s a great city, with a great vibe, and of course it’s the first/best/most of pretty much everything, if you ask it. All that, and it’s a very nice looking city, too. I came here to see the SS Great Britain, but was blown way by how much more it had to offer. I can strongly recommend a visit if ever you’re somewhere in the nearby vicinity. Ship shape, and Bristol fashion!

Tomorrow we’re off to Cardiff, on the day of one of the rugby matches there (whoops). So get ready for another rant about traffic tomorrow as a bazillion people pile into town, including us two 🙂