Land of Banksy ’n’ Bridge
LAID-BACK IS THE BEST WAY TO DESCRIBE BRISTOL
Located in south-west England, Bristol has been named the 2018 UNESCO City of Film and is also one of the most environment-friendly places in the whole of the UK. If you are planning a visit, follow this simple guide.
SIGHTS & SOUNDS
Check out the Bristol zoo, which has giant elephant enclosures and up-close penguin feeding. At the Bristol Aquarium, wander through the underwater tunnel to catch a glimpse of tropical sharks, rays, seahorses, puffer fish and piranhas.
Are videos more your thing? Belong by GAME is the UK’s largest gaming arena and its VR headsets are something that every gamer will love. A trip to Bristol’s M Shed is recommended. It’s a massive museum that allows you to see the city through time. You must also stop by the Hippodrome, one of the top theatres in the UK. Their repertoire ranges from opera to ballet, pantomime to comedians, and some West End and Broadway hits.
The iconic image of Bristol is the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Based on a design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the great figures of the Industrial Revolution, the bridge covers the river Avon. It was the site of the first modern bungee jump in 1979 and was a handover spot during the Olympic torch relay in 2012. Sticking with the river Avon, the Kennet and Avon Canal is a scenic waterway that cuts through Bristol and expands out into the hilly heart of the West Country. The majority of the waterway is linked with canals that stop and start a lot but make for beautiful, chilled-out boat rides. Spot ducks and other wondrous wildlife as you slowly chug your way down the river on a boat.
One of the most famous things to come out of Bristol is Banksy, the anonymous graffiti artist. His dark humour is etched into his artwork along with his signature stenciling style. What started as a few clever pieces of graffiti has become a worldwide phenomenon, with some pieces like Slave Labour, The Mild Mild West and Balloon Girl becoming internationally famous.
Add to your list the SS Great Britain, arguably the most famous ship in the UK. It was one of the largest passenger ships in the 1800s. Now, she is an award-winning visitor attraction.
Check out Cabot Circus, where all the designer brands live. It’s not the shops themselves but where they live that is worth looking at — a large curved glass roof dominates the mall, with funky aesthetics like a lopsided walkway to the car park, glass floors and artistic walls scattered throughout the shopping centre.
And make it a point to chat with the local people. Their accent may make them sound like angry pirates or farmers, but they are wise and fun!
MUNCH & HIC
When eating out, you want tasty food that’ll fill you up, right? Za Za Bazaar, overlooking the harbour, hosts a buffet like no other. The food here comes from all over the world — traditional Chinese to American classics. There is a lot to choose from and you can have as much as you want for a fair price. The only snag? You only have one hour and 45 minutes each time you go in there. So you have to plan your plates well.
Here’s a tip: Start off slow and have less on your plate, that’ll increase the number of times you can go up. A personal favourite is the make-your-own ice cream station. Try it.
Love beer but want to try something different? The Wild Beer Company offers a wide range of flavours. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Iced Modus beer. Hints of sour cherry and sherry come to mind after a few swigs of this bad boy. Bristol is renowned for its cider. Why not try something a little less strong, like Zintuki? It’s the perfect combination for fish, chicken or cheese.
Highly recommended is the bar at Wapping Wharf by the Ferry Steps. It has 22 draft beers to try along with tasty accompaniments that change regularly depending on the season — so keep your eyes peeled and your taste buds ready.
If you want something considerably more sophisticated, head to Souk Kitchen. They offer “a menu inspired by the foods of the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and much of the former Ottoman empire”. Flickering candles in jars, cutlery in colourful cans and the shadow of the popular Tobacco Factory Theatre looming over the restaurant, the warm, rustic vibe enhances the experience. Every dish here is presented like a wax sculpture.
A cafe filled with cats might seem like a daft idea, but to the people of You & Meow, cats and coffee go together like bread and butter. Bristol’s first cat cafe describes itself on their website as “a unique experience where customers can enjoy the company of our cats whilst savouring our selection of teas, coffees and delicious cakes”.
Most cafes are noisy places filled to the rafters but You & Meow offers refreshments and relaxation through their carefully designed space, inspired by Japanese Zen gardens. The cats are well-fed and get a lot of attention. You might be saying to yourself: “A cat cafe? Isn’t that dirty with hair everywhere?” Well, it is one of the most hygienic places! The off-the-beaten-track location behind the Bristol Hippodrome gives it that extra bit of homely feel that you just don’t get at other places.
— Benjamin Wodecki
(A journalism graduate from University of Gloucestershire who interned with t2)