The Original

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, February 27, 2011

I thought I'd take a day-trip west to the city of Bristol to take a break from school (because obviously I don’t take enough breaks as it is). Bristol is the biggest city in southwest England with about 500,000 in city proper.  It only took a mere hour and half from London by train to get there.  When I had traveled by train to less prominent places, I usually got an entire carriage to myself or only a few other people, but this was not the case with Bristol.  When I arrived at the station, I bought my ticket and walked on to see carriage after carriage full of people.  I would have had to stand if I didn’t just sit down in a reserved seat, a reserved seat for a passenger that never showed up over the entire journey.  Little did I know that it didn’t matter anyway, because once we got 20 minutes outside of London to the town of Reading, everyone got off.

The train station in Bristol probably couldn’t be in a worse location, being adjacent to an abandoned office complex and several neglected fields (definitely not pictured below).  I also had to walk too far before I stumbled into the really nice part of town.  Once I was finally there, I could appreciate Bristol a bit more.  I walked through Queens Square and the Floating Harbor (or, Harbour).  It’s "floating" because the water level doesn’t change in the harbor thanks to some mechanisms and gates.

Bristol is quite the hilly area, and I realized that I climbed up the 75 degree incline that is Brandon Hill, a large park.  At the top of the hill is Cabot Tower which was under renovation when I was there so I really couldn’t see much of it.  I moved through the park to a district known as Clifton, a very attractive residential area full of Georgian homes.  Before I had left the house in London, I checked the weather forecast which told me that there was a chance for rain.  However, while I was wandering around Clifton, I was not only rained on, but I was hailed on as well!  I did get a bit lost in Clifton.  It is full of small winding streets and many dead-ends, but I did finally manage to escape in the direction of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Bristol’s big landmark is the Clifton Suspension Bridge that spans the Avon Gorge, opened in 1863.  The bridge is not just a landmark for the city but also for England, as it is featured on the 1 coin.  Beside the bridge lies an old observatory and a nice park that leads down to the bottom of the gorge.

On the way back to the train station, I walked through the Old Town where many medieval and Tudor buildings still stand interspersed with some modern office buildings.  Bristol was hit heavily by the Blitz during WWII, and I saw at least two blown out churches in the old town that are evidence of that.  The churches now serve as memorials and gardens to those who lost their lives in WWII.

The train that was supposed to take me back to London ended up being a bit late.  As more people walked up to the platform to wait for the train, people became more and more anxious about getting a seat on the train.  Finally, a man came on the intercom and said that the train was to be boarded at a different platform.  You haven’t seen people run before until they are suddenly presented with the fact that they may not get a seat on the train back to London.  Once I arrived at the new platform, I realized that the train waiting there was only two carriages long (when the one that brought me here was at least nine or ten).  Someone must have been having fun at the intercom because then someone came on again and said that the train would be boarding at the original platform so then everyone ran back to the platform we started at.

In the end, Bristol doesn’t have a lot going on in it on a normal day, though they do host a large hot air balloon festival in the fall.  The city has been around since the 12th century, possibly even before, so there is quite an array of architectural styles throughout the city.  With districts like the Old Town and Clifton, it is a very attractive town (if you take out some of the office buildings).

PS: I called this entry "The Original" because there area apparently at least 34 other towns on Earth called Bristol, most of which are likely named in honor of the original Bristol in England.

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