We've all heard the expression, "making lemonade out of lemons..." Well, that was Bristol. Originally, I was scheduled for a work exchange elsewhere in England, but upon arriving, knew it wasn't a fit. So, I quickly got online and accepted my first house sit 😊 in Bristol.
Located in South West England, population 463,400, Bristol was a launch point for early voyages of exploration to the New World. On a ship out of Bristol in 1497, John Cabot, a Venetian, became the first European since the Vikings to land on mainland North America. Home to a vibrant art scene and music festivals, there's a youthful energy here; especially since it's the Home of Bristol University.
With 3 days to burn before my house/pet sit, I stayed at my first Hostel, 😳 affectionately called "007Hostel." Sharing a tiny room with 3 women, I had a bunk mate; my backpack. Not optimum but doable for 2 nights. Plus, it was cheap, about $15.00 per night. It was an adventure tutoring English online in the reception area of a hostel. Come on all you mature travelers, when was the last time you slept on the top bunk of a twin bed with your pack?
Bristol has a great vibe which called me to explore. With limited time, I walked the 30 minutes to the City Centre and boarded a ferry taxi to Brunel's SS Great Britain. I hope you read the remarkable story of this ship, from it's cutting-edge design, it's extraordinary
rescue and return home. What's really cool about this exhibit is you venture down into the original dry dock, which is covered with plexiglass and a few inches of water at ground level; giving the feel of being under water. Likewise, when you're above water, touring the interior of the boat, it looks as if the ship is in water. Fabulous idea.
Speedy Stats: Built 1843, Length 322', Beam 50'6, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. This famous engineers original office is now a museum at the same location. I just love how the English hang on to buildings, even at the dock yards.
The entire dockyard is filled with period carts, trunks, and cargo waiting to be loaded. You are issued a Passenger Ticket in the handy gift shop. As you descend, you are greeted with life as a passenger in the 1800's. From the dining saloon, to the medical room in use (with sound affects🥴), the clanking action in the galley, and the livestock needed for, well, your dinner and eggs, this exhibit is the closest you'll ever get to taking a Victorian era steamer across the pond. It even included toilets developed by Thomas Crapper; yep, that was his name. Who knew his inventions would improve sanitary conditions and provide the "Porcelain Gods" aboard swaying, nauseating passenger ships.
Bristol Adventure Video-Click Here
Have you ever ate lunch on a Packet Boat? Well, you can read about these little-boats-that-could Here. Lucky for me, one was a café, which provided the opportunity to relax and absorb the sensory overload. There's nothing like a sunny day (they do happen in England), a cold pint, and lunch on the water. I watch a ferry named "Butcombe" pass...Hmm...
Plan on taking your time to explore the floating harbor, shops, ferry rides, and feast on all the history this area has to offer.
Next stop was St Mary Redcliffe Church. Built sometime in the 12th century, this Gothic masterpiece is worth seeing. It's majestic pipe organ, architecture, and medieval stained glass stand overlooking much of the city.
Standing inside a church that's been a place of worship for over 900 years makes one reflect just how brief our lives are. Sort of like comparing our life-span to the life-span of the common house fly. Here in Bristol, there are strong ties to our beloved USA, including a bronze of John Cabot, and Sir William Penn, father of William Penn who founded Pennsylvania. It's a small world after all 🎵... I hope that song gets stuck in your head like it is in mine.
Alas, it was time to return back to the Victorian era row house, as 3 kitties were expecting my affections. I'm grateful for this first little house sit; it gets my foot in the door, so to speak. The long weekend I stayed in Bristol was the same weekend of St Pauls Carnival; an Afro-Carribbean music festival which I enjoyed from the house; trying to comfort 3 kitties who were nervous about the windows rattling. You can see more photos of Bristol on Instagram Go Silver Oyster. Thank you for joining the adventure.
Next stop; Calstock, a quaint English village, population 1,200 on the River Tamar.