I've been in the U.K. since around the end of October, and even took a break in the middle to spend three and a half weeks in Greece, but I've still done so much here that it's hard to know where to start. I'm staying in Bristol, which is a city in the southwestern part of England near the border with Wales. Anna and her family have been showing me around Bristol and the areas nearby; we've made a lot of trips out to Wales and Cornwall especially. I'll be doing a series of posts catching up on what I've been up to here, and a few on Greece as well. There's been a lot of traveling, but there's also been a fair amount of hanging out at pubs and playing with cats.
|My first pub in the U.K.! And catching up with some old friends from Sendai, Japan|
|How will I ever say goodbye to you, Peaches?|
First of all, Bristol. I really, really like staying here. It's a big city but doesn't feel as big as it is, since you can get around pretty easily just walking, cycling or taking the bus. The downtown area is busy, with lots of shopping, food and nightlife around the docks. Where we're staying is not far from Gloucester Road, an area with a lot of great pubs and places to catch live music.
There are a lot of nice parks, too, like Blaise Castle (not really a castle, just a tower) and Brandon tower, both of which are nice to walk around and have good views of the city. Another great park is Ashton Court, which is a large green space around an old house, with good views and even some resident reindeer.
|A slightly gloomy view of Bristol from the top of Brandon Tower|
|The old house at Ashton Court|
Here are a few other Bristolian landmarks:
The St. Nicholas Market, where you can buy handcrafted souvenir type things, and which is also a great place to stop for a cheap lunch downtown.
|An alley near the entrance to St. Nicholas Market|
The docks, a fun place to walk around, with a lot of food and bars and a small ferris wheel. You can also find some bars on boats in the canal, where you can stop and try some cider (something this region is famous for.)
There's also a very pretty Cathedral downtown, and at the docks you can see the S.S. Great Britain, the last ship ever built in Bristol (it used to be a big ship-building city and gained a lot of its wealth in the slave trade.)
|The library and cathedral|
And, of course, the greatest of all Bristolian landmarks, the Clifton Suspension Bridge. I've been told (many times since arriving here) that it was the first suspension bridge ever built. It was designed by a man with a really great extravagant name, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and a woman less inspiringly named Sarah Guppy. Brunel is, according to Wikipedia and probably many Bristolians, "one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in engineering history." The idea for a bridge over the Avon Gorge started in 1753 but thanks to some pesky riots, wasn't finished until 1864. It was the location of the first modern bungee jump in 1979 and an Olympic torch hand-off in 2012, and it's apparently had cameos in some movies and TV shows.
|The man himself, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, looking like he knows history will remember him well. Photo credit.|
Anyway, it's a very nice bridge.