Friday, 21 October 2011

Bristol Weekend, just brilliant!

Bristol City Centre
The City of Bristol (South West England) seat around the Avon River always has been in my radar for the only reason that was one of the more important cities of the English industrial revolution, but perhaps is a city overshadow by Cardiff in the another side of the Avon River and even more for the tourist eternal thermal city of Bath at the first sight more appealing cities to visit.
But for me surprise and anyone that visit the city for first time the Bristol of today is a cosmopolitan city with great creativity who keep and restore its proud past putting them in a must visit to understand the English past,  present and also a reference city for the own English for the future.
We arrived to the busy Bristol rail station in a sunny summer day; we took a taxi; a mistake because the public transport in the city is comfortable, clean and cheap. Even most of the people recommend stay in the Clifton area where the famous suspension bridge is, for a short break of 3 day I preferred stay in the central Blu Radisson Hotel where you can visit the most of the main attraction just walking.
If the wheatear is nice the best that you can do is take one of the Bristol harbour boat trips, the round trip are very chip and is a good way to introduce yourself in the city.
The two must stop in the boat trip are the Brunel’s SS Great Britain a ship that is part of the humanity heritage since Victorian times (launched 1843) until 1937. This great piece of Victorian engineering has been recovery and transform in an interesting museum located in the same dry dock where was built where you can feel like part of the crew or like one of the first transatlantic passenger.
SS Great Britain deck
SS Great Britain Kitchen

No far either for the SS Great Britain and the City you can visit the new Bristol historical Museum situated in the old harbour, the building has great view over the city and you can touch and interact with a lot of objects, great for kids, grandparents and vintage lovers.
If you want art (or kind of) visit the Arnolfini centre of contemporary art, or for more family adventures cross the pretty design Piero´s bridge and visit the aquarium and the millennium square.
Then is time to get lost in the city, the best two walk can start from the historical Hippodrome theatre. First you can go to the Bristol Cathedral an impressive Hall Church at the level of the best European cathedrals. After that a quick look the college next door and start to walk to Park Street, where nice cookery shop, galleries, restaurant and coffee shop with some surprises like Banksy graffiti’s and a well-kept Georgian House will make easy climb the hill until the university tower. Beside is the Bristol Museum, totally avoidable unless you can find a good exhibition.
Vegetable stall outside St Nicholas Market (Wednesday´s)
 The another great walk is taking the Corn street, where you find nice church towers and Victorian buildings until arrive to the St Nicholas Market where stalls sell fresh and deli local foods, caf├ęs, second hands book and clothes, tourist crap, even curtains and a bike workshop, but the more interesting for us is the farmers food market and the Slow Food market outside the building.

Cabot Circus Shopping Centre (Above). Working in a new grafiti (left)

No far away you can go the shopping malls area, In your way you can appreciate several gratifies in a good attempt to bring to live some awful 70´s buildings with the art of the imaginative Bristol youngers (Is believed that Banksy born in Bristol). Really I ‘am not the kind of bloggers that recommend  go to a shopping centre, but when half of a city recommend to you must be a reason and the reason is Cabot Circus where you can’t miss the opportunities to watch a movie in the Director halls which offers bento boxes and a great cocktail menu. Also you can have a nice gastro-experience in Brassiere Blanc by Raymond Blanc.
Before left the city doesn’t forget to relax in some of the several boat terraces or in Queen Square.

Where to Stay

Radisson Blu Hotel
Radisson Blu Hotel bedroom
The latest addition to the Bristol hotel scene within a reclad 1960s office block in the city centre.
The views from the upper floor bedrooms are spectacular overlooking the Quay.
The rooms are well designed and furnished but the air conditioning is noisy and ineffective. The bathroom design/ layout could be better but these are minor gripes.
Bar and restaurant are warm and welcoming serving above average food .
However the lifts here are a nightmare and the building/ lift  contractor needs to get his act together as the lifts have been only working intermittently since this hotel opened.

Brooks Guest House Bristol
Brooks Guest House Courtyard
 Close to St Nicholas Market this bijou hotel is a real find.
The owner Carla Brooks showed us around the well decorated establishment.
Bedrooms on the ground floor are on the smallish side but are very inviting and comfortable. However the bathrooms more than compensate for this.
We will stay here on our next visit to Bristol as it is close to all local amenities and has a homely touch
Where to Eat

Brasserie Blanc Bristol
Brasserie Blanc
Located in Cabot Circus this is a welcome addition to the Blanc chain. Situated in the former Bakers and Cutlers Halls the room is magnificent and retains a lot of the original fittings and plasterwork combined with contemporary furnishings  to create a warm and attractive space.
We had a superb and enthusiastic waitress who talked us through the menu.
I had a fillet steak with chips perfectly cooked the way I like it medium rare and my partner had the Octopus salad which was beautifully presented. 
I would not hesitate to recommend this restaurant and will return next time I am in Bristol.
Casamia Restaurant Westbury on Trym
 Casamia is a truly stunning Michelin starred restaurant run by two young chefs who are clearly passionate about food and its presentation.You enter via a small and attractive alleyway and pass the kitchens on the way to the main entrance.
The dining room is simply furnished with white washed walls with a few pictures of Italian scenes here and there - similar to a local trattoria. But there the similarity ends.
The staff are very knowledgable about the menus and the wines to accompany each course. Tables are well spaced and covered in freshly laundered crisp linen.
The food is superb and served with a theatrical flourish.We had a conversation with the young chefs who are clearly influenced by the EL Bulli restaurant in Spain and are  keen to experiment with food and its flavours. Even the breads deserve a special mention .
This is not an inexpensive establishment but in this reviewers opinion is worth every penny.
An upstairs dining area was due to open in the late summer and we will be back to investigate further.

Spyglass Bristol BBQ boat

I just I am going to quote the welcome Spyglass webpage " this lively waterside restaurant has become a Bristol institution, serving an assortment of meat and fresh fish from the grill to create their popular signature dishes with some new and exciting options thrown in for good measure" because is really true and honest with the place we had a fantastic piri-piri chicken and Cuban burger in an environment that remind me a Caribbean tavern full of people having a great and fun dinner out.


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