5 Things You Should Know About Bristol, England
One of the first things I like to do when visiting a new place is to take a guided tour to acclimate myself with the city, its history, and a local’s view on all the good spots to eat. Being in England, it seemed only appropriate to take one of the red double-decker bus tours. And in typical English fashion, it was only appropriate that we would be rained on during the entire tour. Nothing like feeling like a local from day one. Here’s the bare-bone-basics that will give you a jump start to touring like a local in Bristol.
In NYC, our iconic taxi is yellow. In Bristol, the taxis are blue, taking after the famous “Bristol Blue” glass. This was decreed by the council so that the good people of Bristol could tell the difference between private hire cars and a proper British taxi, or “hackney carriage”. Unfortunately, all the drivers had to pay for the paint job themselves.
Being very much a city of the water, Bristol has another sort of taxi as well: The Bristol Ferry Boat. The boats stop at all the major sites, and allow you to jump on and off as you please.
If taxing isn’t your thing, have no fear: Bristol is an extremely walkable city. Word of caution to ladies in heels: be wary of the cobblestone.
The Symbol of the City
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is to Bristol what The Empire State Building is to NYC and the Eiffel Tower is to Paris: the defining symbol of the city. Set at the top of the city amongst the cliffs, visitors can enjoy a stroll across the bridge, taking in the majestic beauty of the Avon Gorge below and the spectacular vistas of lush, rolling green hills in the distance. I guess there’s something to be said for all that English rain, after all.
Fabulous Annual Festival
Bristol is known for being the hub of the largest annual hot air balloon festival in Europe, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Taking place every August, the event attracts over 500,000 visitors during the four day show, and is free to attend.
Claim to Fame
Bristol is home to no shortage of celebrities, including the legendary Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, animated film favorites, Wallace and Gromit, and one of my favorite actors of all time, Cary Grant. In fact, Mr. Grant had his first theatrical role in Bristol’s very own theater, the Hippodrome.
The Art Scene
Like any distinguished city, Bristol has its share of graffiti. However, the difference is, Bristol actually invited the artists to spray on the sides of buildings. A huge graffiti exhibition (the largest street art project in Britain, in fact) was held on Nelson Street, and artists from all around the world were invited to come share their creative genius. Who needs sunshine with color splashes like that?
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen
A very special thank you to the folks of City Sightseeing Bristol, especially our very knowledgable and entertaining guide, Andy!