As some of you may know, we flew to & fro from Bristol on our recent Iceland trip. The unexpected part of this decision was how unexpectedly awesome Bristol turned out to be and even though we spent a night + a few hours in the city, we fell short by a few hours in exploring it. The street art scene in Bristol is by far the best in the UK (hence the title) & Banksy has his signature all over the city!!! Let us try to sell you on why you should be visiting Bristol.
1. The Street Art
Holy sh*t!!! We had to pinch ourselves when we saw the quality of graffiti while walking to a restaurant from our AirBnb (a 10 minute walk in a residential area). And then 4 days later we had to pinch ourselves again when we saw 3 Banksy works in the space of an hour (and still have a few more to see). The quality of street art is among the best in the world (in our limited experience Seattle, Portland, London & Reykjavik maybe come close). Here are a couple of Banksy and a couple of equally impressive local works.
Unfortunately, we were too late in finding out that one of the more famous Banksy pieces had been relocated after being blocked by this ship 😦 (relocated to the nearby M-Shed).
Tip: We used this map to find the pieces that we did, cross reference this with other web sources to make a comprehensive trail.
2. The extremely walkable city
Our walk through the partly sunny city centre while on our Banksy trail was one to remember. It helped to walk during a weekday afternoon with very few people in what we imagine are very busy on the evenings & weekends. Such places include the river side near the Aquarium and College Green in front of the Cathedral. We were pleasantly surprised to find the statue of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a famous Indian educator from the late 1700s from the state of West Bengal, in a prime location in front of the Cathedral. Took a pic for IN pride purposes again.
3. The Bristol Cathedral
This is another stellar English cathedral we visited adding to the likes of Worcester & York. Its big, peaceful and beautiful. There are no entry or photography charges connected to seeing the cathedral (which is how it should be). We highly recommend dropping in for some time.
4. The Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
As mentioned previously a few times on this blog, one great thing about the UK are the free museums. We went to Bristol Museum & Art Gallery as it was the final part of our Banksy trail and had only 20 minutes in there. It was quite a nice museum, still decked out in the Chinese New Year celebration colours. Definitely recommended if you have kids along.
5. The Baba Ghanoush @ Souk Kitchen
We’d looked up the Mediterranean restaurant called Souk Kitchen as a place near our AirBnb to have our dinner with some scepticism. Surprisingly, the food here was exceptional! (and a reason to visit Bristol in itself! ). The 1st thing you’ll notice on stepping in is the smoke in the dining area coming from the kitchen, a distinct trademark of Asian restaurants. The smoke, mixed with the aroma of delicious food and lively chatter of patrons magically enhanced the ambience. This Baba Ghanoush with chilis & pomegranate had a deep smoky taste to it which made our tastebuds orgasm. We also had a delicious cumin fish curry. Do not miss this place if you like Mediterranean food (we were lucky to get a table walking in, the place was packed even at 9 PM!).
Getting in and around
Bristol Temple Meads is a major railway junction in the SW of England with connections to London (GWR), Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh & Plymouth (CrossCountry). However, Bristol is possibly the 1st major British city we’ve visited where the train station is a bit of a walk / bus from the happening city centre.
Bristol Airport is extremely well-connected to most major European hubs through low-cost airlines (the reason we visited to begin with). Take the Airport Express bus A1 to get straight to the City Centre in 20 minutes (£7).
Bristol has a great bus service that you can use to shuttle around town. A sample fare is £1.70 from the Art Museum to Temple Meads station.
Where to stay
We cannot recommend our Bristol AirBnb highly enough but we’ll try. The space is a nice private room with a King bad in a peaceful neighbourhood with amazing restaurants nearby (like the Souk Kitchen). The flat is a 15 minute walk from the Airport bus station making it decent for an affordable nights stay before the flight.
The piece-de-resistance is that the host, Helen, is a delightful person. She’s a keen baker and fed us her homemade Lemon Drizzle cake that was out of this world. She even emailed us her recipe that we replicated to great success (we’re super-amateur bakers). She is an urban farmer who rears chickens in her backyard and offered us freshly laid eggs in the morning and we could literally taste the freshness in our runny, fried egg. Another quality of these superb eggs are their super-hard shells, an egg fell from her hand and the shell barely cracked a tiny bit!! The recipe for the perfect breakfast 🙂
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