England, Europe, Travel, UK

Banksy’s Bristol

Bristol conquers the south west. Destroying any perception of the west country to be only full of combined harvester driving, cider drinking locals, any who visit Bristol soon realise that this is not the case. Bristol, surrounded by aromatic country side and sweeping country lanes, is a hive of culture, music and art. It hosts posh Bristolian’s in Georgian architectural town houses, broke students in grungy clubs and grinning locals in traditional pubs. The River Frome weaves through the cobbled stone streets of the Old Town, past modern lavish apartments, under arched bridges and besides spectacular street art that covers much of Bristol’s walls. Being home to Banksy, the most famous graffiti artist in the world, emphasizes to all that visit, how culturally diverse and liberal Bristol is. As well as hosting a thriving electronic and alternative music scene in eclectic venues, and home to some of the most impressive urban art in the world, parts of Bristol are spruced up and elegant. Shopping in Cabot Circus is similar to perusing in Bond Street and gourmet dining in Bristol is definitely more popular than edgy cafes or organic restaurants only to be found in St. Werbughs, demonstrating that Bristol is a mish mash of styles and people, a hybrid blend of attitudes and values.

To put it simply, Bristol is as culturally and musically on point as Manchester, as welcoming as Liverpool, whilst the architecture and price tag is similar to London. Confusing right?

As my brother and my sister in law live here, as well as my best friend having studied at University here, means that I have frequented Bristol a fair few times. Immersing myself in the shops, the restaurants and the drinking culture. It is a lovely city to stroll around in at a leisurely pace as each neighbourhood resonates a different vibe and energy, attracting different crowds and clientèle. Walk along Harbourside by the river for a pleasant glimpse into Bristol’s maritime past, and head to St. Nicholas Market which is held daily and hosts a number of deliciously different food from all over the world.  Bristol’s Eastside is the area that appeals to me the most, as the neighbourhood offers alternatives to commercial chains by promoting independent retailers, individual creativity with cafes that pulsate with funky music, and shops that sell anything and everything. Head to St.Paul’s to immerse yourself into the Afro-Caribbean vibes by eating delicious food and enjoying fantastic reggae clubs and bars; Easton for international cuisine and shopping, or St. Werburghs, a neighbourhood that strives for climate change and their environmental ethos is embedded into their very being.

Rather than people watching, street art instagramming and perusing independent shops for funky things as if a magpie for gold, whilst in Bristol head over to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery which is “guaranteed to inspire“. Another attraction that will no doubt inspire you is At-Bristol, a dynamic science centre which aims to educate all on the world, an enlightening experience. M Shed, located in a dockside transit shed, is a social history museum that explores the city’s history from prehistoric times to the 21st century, all through the recollections of people, objects and film- a different type of museum than what you usually expect. Other places to visit are the; Bristol Cathedral, Clifton Suspension Bridge, Spike Island– for more culture and art, and the Ashton Court Estate– which is 850 acres of woodland filled with bike trails and nature paths, acting as a perfect escape out of the city.

When dining out in Bristol I only ever did so with family, never with friends, which being a broke student myself, meant that I never had to foot the bill (hurray!), thus the following restaurants are not “budget” options. Head over to The Burger Joint- which allows you to pick every ingredient in your burger for your desired choice, Bravas for tapas, Arch House Deli -for a cafe that serves organic food you can be tempted to take home, Hotel Du Vin– a classy French bistro in the centre of town, and The Cowshed – great for steaks.

With my experiences of night life in Bristol, I will be as brutally honest as I always am and tell you where not to go- which is where I went. Ending up in the chain Walkabout was a bit of a disappointment whilst being in one of the most musically diverse cities in the UK for alternative music, although the staff giving me a free bottle of champagne for being able to do the duttywine, might have been a reason why we found it hard to leave. (I will not be posting a video of me doing this dance move, although if unsure of what it is feel free to click here for some one else on YouTube demonstrating it to you). Another evening was spent in the student standard night club of Bunker, where jagerbombs were on half price and music from the charts played in the background. However, a great bar I was shown was Zero Degrees, which is in fact a microbrewery, creating their own alcoholic concoctions- tasting delicious. The airy bar filled with funky decor and shiny steel pipes supports the brewery image and  is an added bonus.

If heading back to Bristol for a night out I would most definitely make sure to hit up quirkier venues (especially now being a graduate), such as the club Motion. Similar to the gig style and music of the Warehouse Project in Manchester, Motion has been turned from a skate park into Bristol’s biggest nightclub filled with heaving sweaty bodies.  Club Cosies focuses on all things dubwise and bass heavy catching my attention and love, whilst Attic bar combines my favourite type of music with live bands and is nestled right next to a hostel- perfect for me to chat to people from all over the world (I like to do that a lot). Hyde and Co is a jazzy cocktail bar and a hidden gem amongst kebab shops and is an example of Bristol’s more sophisticated side, which I would most likely avoid when returning (coming to Bristol I would be more interested in what it offers so superbly- bass and alternative music in unique venues). Traditional pubs which I have been told are fantastic are: The Apple Pub -which has an array of potent cider on offer, and The Hatchet – an authentic English pub with a cosy atmosphere. As well as drinking, Bristol also has an abundance of theatre on offer here like The Bristol Old Vic and a number of comedy nights in venues such as The Lanes and A Man Walks into A Bar, making Bristol a plethora of entertainment and diverse cultures embodying both day and night of this vibrant city.

Thinking about it.. I may just give my brother a call and see if he wouldn’t mind me visiting…