London is a great place to live, but sometimes all a girl needs is an escape. This week’s city-break has brought me to the quirky city of Bristol in South-West England; with just over 400,000 residents and being labelled as student central, this city is known to be a cultural and creative hub just waiting to be explored. Let’s go.
After a near 2 hour train ride from London, I arrived into Central Bristol at Temple Meads station. My initial reaction was I could breathe, there was something about being somewhere where no one was rushing that was refreshing and creatively liberating. I sometimes find London to be so passion forward that it’s suffocating, Bristol just has this calm vibe. After checking into my hotel, I went out to explore; street music, poetry readings, and an abundance of book and art supply shops were suddenly at my finger tips.
Bookshops X Cafés
Ever walked into a book shop and just felt your body go ‘ahhh’ – it’s quiet, there’s a total lack of in-your-face salespeople, and let us remember the miles and miles of books. I walked into the Bristol Waterstones and every muscle in my shoulders relaxed. As I furthered into the store I heard someone speaking loudly. I wandered in search of the voice through the delicious maze of bookshelves until I found a man doing a reading of a children’s story. A sign at his feet told me he was a local author reading his hand-made, self-illustrated story book. With an audience of only a mother and son, his passion was inspiring. Half hiding behind a stack of Young Adult fiction, I watched with admiration in my eyes.
It’s this passionate expression which instantly made me acknowledge Bristol for being an inviting place for creativity. I spent a further 2 hours in this Waterstones. In the centre of this single level book haven is the elevated ‘Cafe W’ – the ultimate cafe for all book lovers. I sat at a bar style table looking out into the sea of books, synopsis signs, and grazing people, and wrote a portion of this blog.
If you’re like me and don’t have a rebellious “anti” attitude towards coffee shop chains, I highly recommend the Starbucks at 48 Horsefair, Bristol BS1 3EE. The upstairs hosts the quietest lounge with plenty of armchairs, tables and light-inviting windows. Cafés such as this one are all over Bristol – the perfect places for writing, reading and to drink that much-loved cup of coffee.
If you’re wanting a creative city-break, open spaces are forever inviting. The fresh air, natural light and inspiration allows you to think more clearly. Queen Square was definitely a favourite of mine whilst on my trip to Bristol. Surrounded by trees and cobbled streets, it’s a blissful escape into your mind. The harbour-side is also a lovely place to wander, I was lucky enough to be showered in sunshine whilst in Bristol. Join the Bristolians, grab a book (or a friend and some wine) and sit along the canals edge.
Galleries, Museums and Exhibitions
People who have never met me, can look at me and go “You like museums don’t you”. I don’t know what it is, I don’t wear slogan tees, but I definitely am an advocate for the buildings assigned to housing and promoting the creative expression of artistic brains. I travel the world and I visit the museums in every city I go to – Bristol has been no exception.
It was recommended to visit an art gallery on the harbour-side called Arnolfini. I happened to be very fortunate for visiting when I did. From April 15 – June 18, Arnolfini is hosting the first UK solo exhibition by Egyptian artist Basim Magdy. The multi-media exhibition displays thought-provoking displays of life on earth and visual representations of the artist’s mind. Basim pushes for those who visit this exhibition to take photos of his work and respond with any form of art along with the hashtag #DearBasim on social media. I left feeling overwhelmingly confused, in awe, and with an obsession for his creative mind. As far as exhibitons I’ve visited, this went above and beyond my expectations; I cannot wait to return to Bristol again so I can visit Arnolfini over and over. Another museum I really enjoyed visiting was the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. A quiet space to wander, think, and be inspired.
I’m back to London this evening, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my getaway to Bristol. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to make it here. I often got told I would love Bristol, and I guess people know me better than I realised. Whether you’re wanting to have a weekend away, or you’re stumped on that novel you’re writing, give Bristol your time. You’ll leave refreshed and inspired.
Can Bristol host a Creative City-break? It’s a yes from me.