December 2008


Brilliant Bristol

Anti-Climb Paint?

Anti-Climb Paint?

I realize that Christmas is almost upon us, and it might seem odd to be blogging about my travels whilst everybody is at home with family, but the fact remains that I popped over to Britain as the surprise guest at a party (and it worked), and that I chose to extend my stay in Britain by a few days.

Yesterday I vacated Cheltenham and headed to Bristol, a 40 minute ride down the rails from Cheltenham toward the coast.

Unfortunately I arrived in terrible shape—some kind soul at my office gifted me a cold last week. Originally I thought it was mild, but ultimately I was a dead man walking in Bristol. My room wasn’t immediately available—not unreasonable given that I arrived at 10:15—so I ended up wandering around for two hours without any clue of what I was doing. I did manage to buy tissues at Boots and find some really bad “Italian” food at some restaurant where the principle virtue was that they served me while I tried to read The Guardian.

I returned to the hotel shortly after 12, got into my room, took two Tylenol, and then crashed, sleeping solidly for over two hours. I then snoozed on-and-off until well after 4, when I felt considerably better. Heading out into the evening, I walked through parts of Bristol in the dark for over an hour, before returning to the hotel. I fell asleep no later than 9:15.

Today was much better—I woke up, brilliantly refreshed, at an absurdly early hour—which prompted me to buy ‘net access, and surf until the sun was up—whereupon on I took a shower, and headed out to explore what Bristol has to offer by daylight.

Under the ss Great Britain

Under the ss Great Britain

At first glance, Bristol is a charming city. I was listening to an audio tour I’d downloaded before getting here (something now unavailable from the city’s Visit Bristol website)—it said the walking tour would take two hours; the mp3 file was 25 minutes long. There was a lot of pausing, and, because I forget directions in only 5 seconds, I had to back up several times. The tour was nice, but somewhat lacking. I ended up taking the tour as far as the SS Great Britain before deciding that listening to the rest would suffice. The ship was my actual goal—it’s an old ship, built in Bristol, well traveled, and now restored—that is worth visiting.

I managed to finish my tour just in time to catch a cute little ferry to the city centre—and because I’d never ridden the Bristol Ferry before, I got the full safety briefing about lifejackets, emergency exits, and the like—very British. I can’t remember ever having received a safety briefing on ferries in The Netherlands or between Tallinn and Helsinki. The safety briefings in Britain are even more extensive than the pro-forma announcements that are made on the Staten Island Ferry, or any other commercial boat I’ve taken in the States.

From there I wandered up Park Street, popping into the Boston Tea Party for lunch. I can safely say that it’s overrated and that I wouldn’t return. The drinks were overpriced, and my sandwich was not inspiring.

Graffiti by Banksy

Graffiti by Banksy

Next I wandered through Stokes Croft, a graffiti filled vibrant neighborhood. I enjoyed seeing the art, including work by Banksy (Wikipedia article).

Eventually I returned to the hotel, my feet hurting.

Unfortunately my flight leaves at 6:50—the only way I can get back to Weimar before 2, and before the grocery stores close. I want fresh produce over the Christmas holiday.

1 comment to Brilliant Bristol

  • I hear it’s getting so bad in the UK nanny state that they are almost to the point of putting up signs that say, “Danger, sidewalk” to keep the pedestrians safe.