If I had to sum up my main memories of Bristol, it would be as follows: Clifton Suspension Bridge, jacket potatoes, polenta cake slices, and Wetherspoons.
Bristol is another city that I would have never thought to visit if it hadn’t been for Mike. Back in 2005/2006, he lived and worked in Bristol for about a year (basically living my dream, NBD) and wanted to show me around. Throughout the years, he had told me a few stories of his “Bristol days” and I was looking forward to putting pictures to memories.
Unfortunately, the AirBnb that we stayed at was one of our least favourites of our trip. The room itself was actually quite cosy, and the bathroom was really modern and clean, but the host controlled the temperature and during the day, opted to turn it completely off. Keep in mind that we were here in the middle of the winter. While not as cold as Canada, the buildings are not insulated at all. At night, they turned on the heat so we were warm and content, but during the day, when it was turned off, it was colder to be indoors than outdoors. This was problematic because Mike was sick with a cold at the time. Obviously not planned, but we would have preferred to have the option to stay inside and take it easy until he was feeling better. In hindsight, it was probably a blessing because it forced us to wander around.
We spent 3 nights and four days in Bristol.
Not surprisingly, the first thing we did after we checked into our AirBnb was go for a run. Mike booked our accommodation in Clifton because that was the area he used to live in. The first place he took me to was the Clifton Suspension Bridge because he knew I’d like it. I do love bridges!
After our run, we went in search of food and wound up at a pub. Since it was a Sunday, I saw that the bar was advertising a roast as one of their meal options. Now keep in mind, that I had no idea what a “roast” was. I know what a roast chicken is, but using a “roast” as a noun to include multiple items was confusing to me. Naturally, I began to quiz the bartender there about what a roast dinner was. I didn’t really get a satisfactory answer, so it took me a while to really grasp the concept of a “Sunday Roast”. I THINK a Sunday Roast is equivalent to a Sunday Dinner. Items on the menu can change but it’s a meal eaten at dinner time on a Sunday. Does that make sense?
In any case, after all that quizzing, I glanced at the menu and something else caught my eye – jacket potatoes. I mean, really? A baked potato served as a main, rather than as a side dish?!? Was I in heaven?
I just LOVE baked potatoes, but in Canada, they’re typically topped with sour cream, loads of cheese, and other things I’m not into like bacon bits. And if you order them as a meal, they will not be satisfying enough on its own. I had mine with a lovely vegetable curry and a side salad. I tend to be obsessive about things I like, and I began searching for jacket potatoes at every restaurant in every British city we visited after that. #adulting
Bristol reminded me a lot of Guelph, the city I lived in during my university days. It was small, cosy, and full of students. We spent most of our days trying out new cafes so that we could get work done during the day.
One of my favourite cafes, Mockingbird, was a block away from our AirBnb. They had ginger shots (which we would order to try to fight the cold germs), great coffee and great tea. One day I ordered Earl Grey tea and had it served with hazelnut milk. It was amazing! I’m always looking for trends in cafes when I go to new cities, and a big one here were polenta cake slices. I’m obsessed with cornbread, so I was quite inspired to try as many different versions as possible. You know, for research purposes…
Two last major items on our agenda were to walk by Mike’s old apartment and to have a cheap Tuesday evening meal at Wetherspoon’s for nostalgic reasons.
It’s crazy to imagine what his life was like back then. Fun fact: we were both in the UK around the same time, but obviously didn’t know each other then. And I was travelling and playing tourist, while he was a resident. And I was in London and he was in Bristol, but you get the point!!!
Current (well, early 2015) photo of his old residence.
Old photo of his residence (dark pink building), taken around 2005-2006.
Regarding Wetherspoon’s, Mike warned me that the food was far from gourmet, but he had so many memories of eating there on a semi-regular basis because they had a “Tuesday Steak Club” meal that included steak, chips, peas and a beer for relatively little money. He was pretty excited to share this experience with me so of course we went. 🙂
We also visited his old work area and had drinks at a nearby pub that he used to frequent often.
Overall, I really enjoyed Bristol. Probably because I had my own personal tour guide and it was really fun to imagine what life was like for Mike.
It felt very liveable with a nice, low key atmosphere. My kind of place! I love any city that is built around or near a body of water as well. I imagine it would have been even more lively in the summer, so I’d love to go back and experience it then some day.