By SOPHIE COLLARD
Sometimes it takes moving to a different city to appreciate the one you came from. I found cheap enough car hire to drive all my stuff to the capital of the UK and begin to acclimatise. London gives you the opportunity to have food or drink from any part of the world and all the sights on your doorstep. Rich in culture and history, it is imbued with a sense of pride you might not have thought possible for such a large city. Away from the sights you’ve got Brick Lane with its colour and curry aromas and Camden with its alternative crowd and music scene. London is a wonderful place.
I’m from Bristol. I’ve always loved my city but as I grew older I realised the place is like one big village where everybody knows your name and the physical things I loved became clouded by a desire to get out and meet new people. It took a wedding to get me back and a new person in my life to show around to appreciate how wonderful it is all over again. Walking the streets in my new found city ambassador role I excitedly pointed out all kinds of things I’d almost forgotten.
We began at the Avon Gorge Hotel, where we stayed. The Avon Gorge is something of an institution in Bristol’s upmarket Clifton. Even if you are not staying, the Georgian Hotel has a bar and restaurant with a very large terrace which looks out to the gorge. It has the best view of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s suspension bridge you will get.
While there is no table service and some strange and slightly frustrating organisation as to where you collect your tea and coffee, other drinks and food, the view and the atmosphere make up for it.
From the hotel, you can walk to the bridge and go across it, from where you’ll have access to Ashton Court Estate, probably Bristol’s greatest green space. Alternatively, Bristol Zoo Gardens is a short walk away. It’s a lovely example of a Victorian-designed zoo. You’ll find penguins, monkeys and a black widow spider. There are also currently different painted fibreglass gorillas all over the city. They are there in a bid to raise awareness about deforestation and endangered habitats.
A walk down the hill from Clifton Village will take you to the Hotwells Road. Here you can walk along the river. On the way you will pass Brunel’s SS Great Britain, which was the first screw propeller steam ship to cross the Atlantic.
Further along you will find the Matthew, a beautiful wooden ship. And then you’re in the centre. Consider At Bristol, a science centre for all ages, and the Arnolfini art gallery. Corn Street with the famous St. Nicholas Market is close by. It still has the nails which hammers were brought down on when items were traded, the origin of the phrase ‘to hit the nail on the head.’ And if you’re looking for a great British city experience, that’s precisely what Bristol does.
Sophie Collard writes about fascinating places to visit and people she’s met while on her travels. She’s travelled in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia and loves the sense of distance and changing landscapes.