TRAVEL: Bristol

In September last year I won an overnight stay and River trip in Bristol via Gold Radio, it also included National Express coach travel.  The River trips are seasonal so I opted to wait until the new season this year.
I contacted the PR company dealing with the prize in April and arranged for the trip to be on 19th August.

I also won Sunday Lunch with wine with the Hotel’s Walters Restaurant via Twitter. I contacted them and asked if we could dine during our stay instead and they were happy to oblige and offered us the 3 course set menu with wine – 2 prizes rolled into one.

Day 1

We set off from home and parked the car by Hubby’s Mum’s and walked to the bus station to get the coach to Bristol. We had a quick walk around the Galleries, unfortunately it was a quick walk there are a lot of shops that have closed down. We saw our first Gromit here..More about Gromit later!
We decided to make our way to the Waterfront so we could sit by the river to have a drink and some lunch before booking into the hotel.  The Waterfront is a lovely area that has a good selection of bars and restaurants.  We usually go to the VShed as it’s a Wetherspoons – cheaper drinks and dependable food – nothing posh here just everyday fare!
Fed and watered we made our way to the Marriott Bristol Royal which is on College Green and a stones throw from the Waterfront. We were warmly welcomed and were given a room with a King size bed. Our room was spacious and had everything you’d expect of a 4* hotel.  I particularly liked the masses of shelf space in the bathroom – plenty of room for all your accoutrements!

It was then time for our River trip – a Cream Tea Cruise via the Bristol Packet.  We had to go to Wapping Wharf to join the cruise, a good walk across Pero’s Bridge, past the Arnolfini across the swing bridge, left onto the wharf, past the Mshed and you’re there! Although I worked in Bristol for nearly 16 years I had never done a river trip. It was always one of those things that you just don’t get around to!
We were welcomed on board by a lovely chap whose name I didn’t take so we’ll just have to refer to him as ‘Mine Host’.  Cups of tea all round while we set off to pick up other passengers at the Watershed. The trip then carried on up the river past Redcliffe, Castle Park, and Temple Meads with very interesting commentary by ‘Mine Host’. We turned just past Temple Meads and cruised back to the Harbourside and past the SS Great Britain and on to the Cumberland Basin. We were served more teas and the cream tea consisted of a big scone, jam, clotted cream and a fresh strawberry, oh and another cup of tea!
I really enjoyed this trip, it was interesting seeing Bristol from the river. The cruise takes 2 hours and is worth the cost of £13.50 (a 45 minute cruise costs £5.50 so this longer trip is good value)

River trip on the Avon

River trip on the Avon

After being dropped off at the Watershed we walked around the Harbourside area. This has changed so much over the past few years. It now houses @Bristol and many bars / restaurants and a couple of budget hotels.
We then returned to the hotel to take advantage of the pool, jacuzzi and steam room. The steam room was very steamy which makes a change from other hotels we’ve stayed at.

We went back to our room to relax before going to the hotel’s ‘Walters Restaurant’ for dinner. The set menu had a good choice of food, Hubby chose the red onion salad and I had the mussels.  Big fat creamy mussels in a creamy broth – divine!
Hubby chose the chicken for his main course and I had the Sea Bream. Both were very tasty, although hubby thought mine looked a bit skimpy. For dessert hubby had cherry creme brulee which came with a berry sorbet and I had pineapple cheesecake. This was the weakest course for me, the cheesecake could have been a supermarket one for all I knew. I didn’t taste much like pineapple.
The house dry white wine was an Arien grape variety. I’ve not come across this variety before and it was very good, crisp, light and fruity.

We went back to our room and had yet another cup of tea before collapsing into sleep!

Day 2

After a pretty good night’s sleep (who sleeps soundly in a hotel??) we made our way down to breakfast at around 9am. The selection for breakfast is what you’d expect, cereal, fruit, croissants, continental meat and cheese and of course the full English. There is a chef who prepares your eggs any way you want.
After a full English followed but some fruit we went back to our room to pick up our bag and check out. We had all day to fill – our coach was scheduled for 8pm.

It then off to the Mshed to look at some Bristol history.  This is spread over 3 floors – the top floor has a portrait photography exhibition on until November if you like photography you’ll love it. It makes you realise that not all the photo’s you take yourself are shit.. some of the photos on display are candid and many others are posed but ALL are just wonderful.  This ONE stood out for me.
The other 2 floors show how Bristol has made its mark on the world.  The Mshed is free to enter but they suggest that you make a donation. I think most people would be happy to donate at least a couple of pounds.

Around Bristol - Murals and MShed

Around Bristol – Murals and MShed

We decided to walk up to the city centre, past the Mud Dock (stop for a cuppa – as you do!), along Broad Quay and right onto Clare Street. We walked through St Nicholas market and ended up on Wine Street.  A rest was needed and we sat on the grass by St Nicholas church in Castle Park.
We continued down Union Street which leads to Broadmead. It was good to see so many people about and plenty of shops still in business.
We made our way around to the new shopping area of Cabots Circus. This is a Mall type area full of designer shops, restaurants and a cinema. We found some seating on the second floor and ate our lunch. We were both feeling rather weary, legs and feet aching and it was only 3pm! Another 5 hours to the home time coach!

We both agreed we’d had enough and couldn’t walk very much further! We headed off towards the coach station and managed to get our tickets changed for the 4pm coach home.  A quick cuppa at Mother in Law’s house and the quick drive home. Tired, aching but happy that we enjoyed seeing Bristol from a tourist point of view.

Gromit

This year there is a display of 80 Gromits in and around Bristol. It’s a public art exhibition and each one has been decorated by a different artist. They are on display until September 2013 and the sculptures will be auctioned to raise funds for Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity.

It was good fun spotting them – we didn’t purposely hunt them down, just snapped them as we came across them. There were lots of families taking their children to see them. Good exercise and good fun for them.

These are the ones we saw in just a day and a half!

Gromit around Bristol

Gromit around Bristol

What I liked

  • Comfy bed
  • Selection of goodies for Breakfast
  • Dinner – especially the Mussels!
  • The service in Walters – the ladies on duty that evening were all lovely, friendly without being intrusive.
  • Getting more milk and tea for the room – for tea drinkers like us there wasn’t enough in the room.  I asked for more at reception and they rung through to a porter. By the time we got in the lift and walked to our room the porter was there waiting!
  • River trip chappie – ‘Mine Host’ on the boat. Made sure everyone was well taken care of. Answered questions about Bristol, kept us topped up with tea!
  • People who found my bag – while at the MShed I left my bag under a seat while I took a photo and forgot to pick it up. I panicked a bit!! The MShed reception put out a call to staff and I retraced my steps. A lovely gentleman said he and his wife handed it in. All in one piece, nothing missing – what a relief.  Thank you Mr. & Mrs Anonymous Stranger.

What I didn’t like

  • Dessert – It was a bit of a let down after the wonderful starter and main.
  • Breakfast table cleared before we finished – We had a full cup of tea and full glasses of OJ on the table and by the time we filled a plate with breakfast it was cleared away! The waiter rushed and got us more tea but not what you expect at a good hotel!
  • Wi-Fi only available in public rooms in the hotel. You have to pay to connect in your room. I appreciate that the hotel probably caters more for the business traveler but they could at least let you have the first hour. Even Premier Inn gives you some free time! It is something that should be a ‘given’ in this day and age.
  • The jobs worth at John Wesley chapel. The chapel is on the Horsefair and has a small garden and benches where you can sit and contemplate the world (or where you’re going / what you’re doing next!). We wanted to go in the garden and sit down to take a rest but there was a man on the gate that refused entry as the chapel was closed.

Have you been to Bristol? Leave a comment to let me know if you have or if you plan to visit.

I have not been asked to write this post by any of the companies mentioned. I just wanted to share my experience of my visit to Bristol with my lovely readers. 🙂

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4 comments on “TRAVEL: Bristol

  1. Never been to Bristol but it looks like fun!

  2. I´d love to go to Bristol! On my list

  3. Sounds like a lovely trip. That Marriott is lovely inside and I like the sound of the cream tea river cruise! We have been too busy Gromit spotting to enjoy much of Bristol, but had great fun doing that!

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