Bristol is an edgy city with offbeat charm in England’s stunning south west. And since we can’t live in all the beautyful places on this earth at once, we ask locals to show us the heart of their city which was travel writer Wendy Johnson in this case
Words by Wendy Johnson
The thriving street art and graffiti scene is one of the things that sets Bristol apart from other cities and nowhere captures the edgy rebellion of aerosol art quite like Stokes Croft. Turn any corner in this district and you’ll be met with some of the city’s finest street art, whether it’s the petrol-bombing teddy bear of ‘Mild, Mild West’ one of the most famous pieces from the elusive Banksy, or a gigantic Breakdancing Jesus. John Nation, one of founding fathers of the Bristol street art scene, leads an enlightening tour of these and many more street artworks every Saturday (check wherethewall.com)
Roll for the Soul
Bristol is England’s first ever cycling city and jumping on a bike to pedal your way around is one of the simplest ways to feel like a local. If you arrive in town sans velo then hire one from Cycle the City, based at No.1 Harbourside café in the floating harbour. To fully immerse yourself in Bristol bike culture though, hang out over a beer or coffee with some of the most knowledgeable pedal-heads in the city at Roll for the Soul on Quay Street, a new cycling café and bike workshop run by Bristol’s awesome cycling community.
St Nicholas Market
A weekday or Saturday stroll around St Nicholas Market in Bristol’s Old City is a must. Just be sure to go when you’re hungry as St Nick’s is one of the most concentrated areas of diverse and delicious local food that you’ll find in Bristol. One of the best eateries in the market is Pieminister. Every one of its pie flavours is an award-winner and for good reason, they use the best west country ingredients to make them. Do it Bristol-style and have the works – pie, mash, peas and gravy.
The Avon Gorge Hotel
Wake up to the best views in the city at The Avon Gorge Hotel in Clifton, the most exclusive and salubrious part of Bristol. If you don’t get the chance to stay there, make time to eat on the terrace of its restaurant, The Bridge Café, for a stunning panorama that takes in the Avon Gorge and the impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge. Nearby Clifton Downs are a picnicker’s paradise and a jogging hotspot, as is Ashton Court Estate, which is a little oasis of lush greenery at the other side of the suspension bridge and a particular favourite among mountain bikers.
Arthouse films that won’t be on the bill at the mainstream multiplexes of Bristol are more likely to be screened at The Watershed on the harbourside. As well as being a pretty wonderful independent cinema and arts venue, the café bar here is a popular meeting place for creative types and people with an anything-is-possible outlook on life. If you don’t arrive with a head full of ideas, you are certain to leave with one.
Other things you may not know about Bristol:
* it has its own currency, The Bristol Pound
* Robinson Crusoe is said to be inspired by a meeting in The Llandoger Trow pub in King Street
* on one Sunday each month the city centre closes to vehicles so that people can play, walk and cycle in car-free streets