I spent three years in Bristol, and I don’t like to talk about it. I had a pretty shitty time at uni so I currently spend a lot of my post-grad life filled with regret and jealousy. It’s not great so I ignore it.
However, Bristol the city is a delightful, beautiful place filled with joyful people, so it would be unfair of me not to talk about it. Or, at the very least, share some of my favourite photos. For structure, lets pretend we’re going on a day trip from London (totally possible, not advisable). The train leaves from Paddington a few times an hour and takes 1hr 45mins. It costs around £36 with a rail-card. You can also get the coach, which leaves from Victoria coach station.
You want to get in to Bristol Temple Meades. You can get a train to Bristol Parkway but then you have to change and, really, who can be bothered with that. The station was built/designed/inspired by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (remember that name), who wanted to put Bristol back on the map by making a kick-ass train line to London. However, he didn’t want to use the same type of trains that everyone else did, which meant that nobody could use his lines because no one had the right train. He won in the end though – everyone uses his trains now.
You then want to head into town. It’s a pretty straight road and it takes you to the docks. It goes past St Mary Redcliffe, ‘the most beautiful church in England’ (Queen Elizabeth I said it so it must be true). I’ve literally walked past it 20-30 times and never gone in – let me know if it’s any good.
You then have to head up. Spoiler alert: Bristol is pretty freakin hilly. It has seven hills, or something (like Rome, but no one has actually ever counted them). Just embrace it, don’t give up, and think of all the good work it’s doing to your ass. The views at the top of the hills are worth all the hard work.
On the way up you’ll pass the Cathedral, which is good fun and definitely worth a poke around. If you look confused and ask questions then a helpful guide will tell you things about the cathedral and Bristol in general. It’s on the same square as the Council building, where I gave blood and voted for the mayor.
You’ll also pass the Wills Memorial Building, where I did my exams and didn’t go to graduation. In fact, you’ll pass through lots of university stuff. I apparently don’t have a photo of it but the Victoria Rooms (where the music department can be found) is pretty cool – it’s the only music department I’ve ever seen that has fountains, statues, and columns. At the Victoria rooms you should swerve left, because otherwise you’ll end up in Clifton Down and, despite my lovely photo of the train tracks, nobody wants to go there.
Continue on your merry way until, ta-dah!, you’ve found a park. Carry on through the park and you’ll find Clifton Suspension Bridge. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (remember?), it wasn’t actually built during his lifetime because it was so expensive. They finally raised the money about 30 years later, although there is still a toll.
Once you’re bored of the bridge, head down as quick as you like back down towards the river. It should be pretty late now (I may be understating how long it takes to walk to the bridge) and you’ll get a nice sunset walk through the old docks. The HMS Great Britain is moored there, which was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (are you getting the idea?) to be the fastest ship in the world, but only ever crossed the Atlantic like one time.
There are boats along the river that will sell you cider, and it’s very good. It’s also very cheap, compared with London at least. I recommend The Apple, but really any of the pubs will do. You could also go for dinner in any of the many restaurants in the Waterfront, which is new.
Then, simply stumble back along the straight road, past St Mary Redcliffe, and back on your train to LDN.
Easy as pie x