Bristol: The Land of Babbers, Brunel, And Banksy

The Harbour

This is Caitlin writing again and I’m so excited for this post!  Now on to my favourite city in England located in the South West, Bristol. It is the sixth most populous city in England and the eighth most populous in the UK. I won’t lie, I went to Bristol Uni and that makes me incredibly biased to this amazing cultural city. I had the best time studying for my master’s in maritime archaeology. I decided to come back and visit. I timed the trip perfectly to be there for the May Bank Holiday. A lot of my uni mates now work so it was great to spend that Monday with them.

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Tepees in Queen’s Square

Bristol is one of those cities that always seems to have something going on. If you want to do something you will find something. It’s incredible! I love the community and close-knit feeling to the city that is Bristol. It has such a great and open vibe to it. It’s not stuffy or overly posh. While I was there a few great festivals were going on: Eat Drink Bristol Fashion 2015 and Food Connections 2015. They were both awesome events. Eat Drink Bristol Fashion 2015 set up tepees in Queen’s Square and served tapas while a live band was going outside. While Food Connections 2015 took over College Green. I love any place that has food stalls and both of these events had plenty of food to try. Unfortunately, the Bank Holiday turned grey and it up raining (it was so England of it to be honest).

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Wills Memorial Tower

If you’ve never been to Bristol there a few iconic places you must at least visit. Wills Memorial Tower is an absolutely stunning piece of architecture. The first time I walked in I felt like I was on the set of Harry Potter. The stained glass is amazing and worth seeing in person. A walk to the harbour is completely necessary. I spent a lot of my time during my degree at Pitcher and Piano down at the harbour. You will always see a great fireworks show there during the Harbour Festival as well. While you’re in the harbour you should go and visit the SS Great Britain. I had many lectures for my degree there and it is a cool museum.

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Stokes Croft road covered in street art

Another thing not to miss is the Stokes Croft area. Bristol isn’t home to Banksy for nothing. There’s always amazing works of street art blanketing the city. I always have to take a walk down Stokes Croft to see all of the new art. It’s what makes Stokes Croft, Stokes Croft. I always start my walk from the iconic Bear Pit and go from there to Attic Bar and along to The Canteen. If there’s one place I love to get a drink in Stokes Croft its The Canteen. I also enjoy No. 51 Stokes Croft. Although there’s many great places to go in the area.

Sunny Clifton

Another area that’s worth exploring is Clifton. It might be the polar opposite of Stokes Croft in every way. It’s a bit more posh and cleaner but the views from the Clifton Suspension Bridge are always worth the walk over. I really enjoy the Mall and the Coronation Tap in Clifton. The Coronation Tap makes their own cider and it’s absolutely deadly and delicious. It’s probably the most potent cider in % of alcohol I’ve ever had and that’s why they only serve it as half pints.

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Most of my time in Bristol was hanging out with my mates I met while living in England. I went to a great dinner at Alma Tavern (http://www.almataverntheatre.co.uk/). A place I’ve never been to before and had a great meal. I also had dinner at one of my favourite places the Burger Joint (http://www.theburgerjoint.co.uk/). Any place that serves gluten-free burgers is a place for me. I’m allergic to wheat and peanuts so this always make a restaurant skyrocket to the top of my list. Another amazing place for food is Townhouse (http://www.thetownhousebristol.co.uk/). There food is positively incredible!! I’ve never been disappointed and £10 for 3 courses is very hard to beat. Also their chocolate nemesis is to die for. It’s vegan and gluten-free and is complete chocolatey goodness. One of my mates and I hit up Brown’s for their great happy hour with cocktails (http://www.browns-restaurants.co.uk/locations/bristol/). I love their drink called “British Royal,” but I love anything with Prosecco in it.

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Banksy’s art on the side of the Highbury Vaults

As a post grad in the archaeology and anthropology department I’ve spent a lot of time at the Hawthorns and the Highbury Vaults drinking way too much Thatcher’s Gold. They are two places I could not miss on my week back in Bristol. Not to mention the department has a weekly lecture and we always head to those two places afterwards. I of course went to the lecture and all I really wanted was to just hug everyone while the speaker was talking on. It’s incredibly hard to maintain relationships over continents but it’s so worth it.

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My university’s crest
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My very unhealthy diet of cheese and Thatchers Gold

For our night out we stopped at OMG Bristol, a gay friendly dance club/bar for my mate’s birthday. It was good fun to get a dance in and hangout with all of my mates. They usually play some of the best music as well however this night wasn’t there best but we still danced our bums off. After that, as a staple of most graduates from Bristol I climbed in the Victoria Rooms fountain as my final send off from Briz.

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Street sign in Clifton

As I said, I will not lie about Bristol being my favourite city in all of England. I love it and miss it every day.

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More Stokes Croft street art

My final day in England was spent in London as I was flying out of Heathrow. I met up with one of my mates who live in Battersea and we went out to the Magic Garden Pub in Battersea. They had a DJ playing amazing electro-swing and now I am completely in love with that genre of music. Not to mention that they had several bands from Bristol playing a mix of roots, reggae, funk, soul, and ska. It included: First Degree Burns and Mango Factory with DJ Jon Bongly and here’s the link to the event https://www.facebook.com/events/436013076547814/.

It was very hard to get on my flight the next morning. Trust me I almost stayed. The thought of how long my passport allows me to stay legally crossed my mind far too many times. However, this was a trip for the record books. I cannot wait to go back already!

Photos of all of my favourite street art in Stokes Croft commences, if you know any of the artists names let me know in the comments:

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Adventures in London town and Salisbury

This is Caitlin, the other half of this blog. I’m a maritime archaeologist living in Florida and I absolutely love to travel. I lived in Bristol, England for my master’s degree and I have to say I am very biased to this country. I love England! It’s my home away from home and I loved getting the chance to come back and visit in May. Even crossing a few more things off of my list of things to see and do. I’m going to start with the first half of my trip, London and a day trip to Salisbury to see Stonehenge.

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London. Where do I even begin? This is perhaps one of my most favourite big cities on the planet. There’s always so much to see and always something going on. I love the vibe the city has, it’s not too stuffy with all of its expats from various nations but it still has the refinery of all things quintessentially English, stiff upper lip included. Yet still, I find the people of London so warm despite its consistent rain and October like weather. Luckily for me, my first day was sunny, cold but sunny! I was elated. This rarely ever happens. I decided to walk around Kensington Gardens and take advantage of the beauty. Not to mention I love to visit the Serpentine Gallery. The Serpentine is very much a niche-market gallery. It’s quite modern but it’s always so unique showcasing one artist’s pieces.

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After that stop, I decided to still take advantage of the sun and visit Big Ben. For once he was shining and glimmering in the sun. A wonderful site indeed!!

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After this, I took the long jaunt up to the British Museum and along the way I ran into a May Day parade. Quite frankly, I have no idea what I ran into but it was thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square. (If anyone knows, let me know in the comments section) However, the British Museum is a must! As a historian and archaeologist, this is a happy place for me.

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I enjoyed all of the Assyrian and Egyptian art and artefacts. That is a period I’m obsessed with so I spend most of my time in that section. Luckily, on the maps they list all of the must-see artefacts and there locations in the museum if you don’t have enough time.

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After spending hours there, I was supposed to meet up with my mates on the Southbank for a festival done by Campo Viejo for Spanish cuisine and Sangria.

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This is where my phone died. After not meeting up with any my friends and having the keys to my mates flat. I went to a nearby stand for comedy festival going on and asked if they had a charger.  They inevitably found one and started charging my phone. Nearly in tears and overwhelmed by the amount of people on Southbank a lovely English woman afford for me to use her phone while I waited for my phone to charge. She invited me to sit with all of her friends outside the comedy festival and have a drink. I’ve never been more thankful to someone for taking me in like that. If you ever think the English are too tough or stiff upper lipped I hope this disapproves that. They were so friendly and welcoming! And were more than just a “polite Brit.” Once my phone was charged I finally met up with my friend and had some tapas and sangria in a nearby restaurant. The food was delicious! That was the busiest day I think I’ve ever had on two to three hours of sleep (I flew in that day). After a four hour dinner it was off to bed for the next day.

The second day was also a much filled day. However, this day was spent mostly in Greenwich and I fell in love with the area. First, I visited the Greenwich market and for a steal bought Jerk Pork with coleslaw and rice, a gluten-free cupcake and donut from Ruby’s, AND a flavoured coffee for only 10 pounds. A foodies dream! The food was so good!

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After eating and taking the views, I ventured onto the Cutty Sark and to the National Maritime Museum. As a maritime archaeologist this was a must see but I never got the chance while I was living in England. I had to go this time around. The Cutty Sark was a clipper ship built in the late 1860s.

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I loved learning the history of the ship and playing with all of the hands-on displays. The views on top of the ship were good even for a grey day. The National Maritime Museum was very informative and a bit overrun with children that day but it was Saturday so that was expected. As always, I geeked out in the museum. There was a lot of stuff I learned about while doing my degree so it was quite cool to see in person or at least have the knowledge background to it all. Next, I ventured back to my mate’s place in Camden and hung out until morning for a trip to Bristol to drop my stuff and head to Salisbury.

There’s an overwhelming amount to see in London but I tried to hit up my favourites and now new favourites. This isn’t a city you can tackle in two days. You need a lot more time to investigate, look, and try all of the things that make London, quite frankly London. Here’s my list of must-sees if it’s your first time to visit:

Big Ben

London Eye

Buckingham Palace

Tower Bridge

Kensington Palace

Tower of London

British Museum

Don’t forget to eat at an English pub and get some local beer. Also, Wahaca and Bodean’s BBQ are two great restaurants. That’s just a few but they are all worth it.

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Now onto Salisbury and Stonehenge. One of my mates from Uni moved to Portsmouth for a job and we decided to meet up half way in Salisbury. Giving me a chance to visit the Cathedral and Stonehenge. The morning started off with the Cathedral and seeing the Magna Carta. It was so sunny!! The Cathedral was stunning with all of the stained glass windows and dim lighting. The people working there were extremely helpful and even started telling us there personal stories. They talked about times they’ve been when they were younger and stories from ages ago about the Cathedral itself. They made sure we didn’t miss out on any of the important little nooks and crannies to the place. Seeing the Magna Carta was definitely a highlight.

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Afterwards, we went to a nearby pub and I had the ham steak and a pint. This allowed my friend and me to catch up and take it easy. We decided to drive over to Stonehenge as it’s a bit out of the ways but along the motorway. We walked to Stonehenge as opposed to taking the bus. I was a bit annoyed as the communication about the bus and how close you could get to Stonehenge was kind of unclear. We thought we had to pay for the bus ride but not to get up close to the henge but unfortunately it was the other way round. We did get quite close for free though. There’s a field right next to it and you get a very decent view. It was surreally windy up there though. I was glad I brought my coat but I wish I wore wellies in that field. Next, we had to say our goodbyes and I headed back to Bristol via the train.

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Here’s me with my mate above!

The next post will be about my time in Bristol. I could write a novel about that city so I figure I should separate the two. Let me know of any of your favourite places in London that I should visit the next time I go.  Here are some other photos from the trip:

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