Decoded Spotlight on Bristol

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With a population around 440,000 people, Bristol is regarded as the UKs eighth largest city. Steeped in maritime history, Bristol’s prosperity has been linked with the sea since its earliest days. At the turn of the 15th and 16th century, it was the base for voyages of exploration to the New World: on a ship out of Bristol, John Cabot was the first European to land at North America in 1497 (since the Vikings 500 years before); and William Weston, a Bristol merchant, was the first Englishman to lead an exploration to North America, in 1499. The Port of Bristol was originally in the city centre before commercial shipping moved from Bristol Harbour to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth. Royal Portbury Dock is on the western edge of the city. Its economy has recently depended on the creative-media, electronics and aerospace industries, and the city-centre docks have been redeveloped as centres of heritage and culture.The city has two universities and a variety of artistic and sporting organisations and venues.

In 2005, Bristol was named one of England’s six science cities. It is connected with the surrounding region and the rest of the country by road and rail, including the M5 and M4 (which connect to the city centre by the M32 motorway and Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway railway stations). Bristol, which was named England’s first cycling city in 2008, won the European Green Capital Award in 2015. Located in southern England, Bristol is one of the warmest cities in the UK with a mean annual temperature of 10.2–12 °C (50.4–53.6 °F). It is among the sunniest, with 1,541–1,885 hours of sunshine per year. Although the city is partially sheltered by the Mendip Hills, it is exposed to the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel. Annual rainfall increases from north to south, with totals north of the Avon in the 600–900 mm (24–35 in) range and 900–1,200 mm (35–47 in) south of the river.Rain is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, with autumn and winter the wetter seasons. The Atlantic Ocean influences Bristol’s weather, keeping its average temperature above freezing throughout the year, but winter frosts are frequent and snow occasionally falls from early November to late April. Summers are warm and drier, with variable sunshine, rain and clouds, and spring weather is unsettled.

Many famous musicians have come from Bristol, and the city has a rich history across many genres. Local lad Fractal Architect has agreed to show us round.

Motion Bristol

So where is the best place to party?

Bristol is a big city, with a very strong musical heritage, however in recent years it has lost some of it’s smaller more intimate venues. I’m not a fan of mainstream club culture and prefer a more underground vibe. Lakota is still hosting some great underground music.  The Dojo Lounge is a great small venue with a killer sound system, and the Thekla (the boat) is still a great venue if you don’t mind the heat! If you prefer your venue a bit larger, but still want to avoid the mainstream, then Motion is a great place for the serious clubber. Skate park by day and club by night. Legends such as Derrick May and Seth Troxler are just some of the names lined up in the coming months.

What promoters are really moving the scene?

Just Jack are still bringing the best club nights and DJ’s to Bristol.

Any up and coming DJs we should look out for?

Not really up and coming… But Dubspeeka is pretty awesome right now.

For those who indulge, what is the local laws on drugs and alcohol?

All the clubs have a zero tolerance policy towards drug use, which is fairly standard. And generally the lary drunk types frequent the more commercial venues like Oceana and The Syndicate.

Away from the tourist traps, where do the locals usually eat?

Pizza Provencale in Clifton is a fantastic little restaurant. Superb food and a wonderful shabby chic feel. Not too pricey either. Be aware though, its the centre of the student population so it can get pretty busy.

I suppose a visit to the largest restaurant in Britain is de rigour. Za Za Bazaar is a gigantic 1000 seater venue that hosts a world food buffet the likes of which has never been seen before. It can get seriously busy, but if you go a little bit later than the crowds, you could literally eat yourself to death!

za za bazaar

Any special local dish one should try when in town?

Not a dish, a drink. If you’re looking for a unique and totally authentic experience, you need to try the local ciders. The Apple, a renovated Dutch barge is a great place to start, but if you have the time, its worth finding a local farmers shop and picking some up there. You’ll never want to drink Strongbow again!

Best place to grab a drink?

On a sunny day, definitely one of the many venues along the historic harbourside, such as The Pitcher and Piano and The Slug and Lettuce. For a more sustained drinking experience, a walk down Bristols ‘Golden Mile’ from Whiteladies Road via Park Street in to the city centre is a serious challenge even for the most seasoned pub crawler.

Best place to stay?

For a luxury stay, the Marriott Royal is a very nice hotel in a beautiful Georgian building right in the centre of the city. A cheaper ‘crash pad’ option would be the Premier Inn at the Haymarket in the centre.

@bristol

5 things to do when sober?

Bristol has a lot to do and its pretty much all family friendly too. First up, I would suggest @ Bristol which is the countries first 3d planetarium and science centre. Its fantastic for the kids as everything is interactive with demonstrations and shows. Theres an IMAX theatre next door as well, that just blows their minds! The M – Shed and Bristol Museum chronicles the history of the city, its shipping roots and its involvement with the slave trade in the 18th century. Theres also Bristol Cathedral which has been standing since the 1100s if history is your thing.
If you would rather go shopping for the day, theres two shopping malls in the city centre (Cabots Circus and The Galleries) and an out of town one a bus ride away  (The Mall at Cribbs Causeway).  One of the cities best sights is Clifton Suspension Bridge. Built in the 1800s, it straddles the Avon Gorge 75 meters up, and the views are fantastic! Steeped in history is Blaise Castle , an 18th century mansion in Henbury. Interestingly, it is referred to in Jane Austins’ novel ‘Northanger Abbey’ as “..the finest place in England.”

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Any local customs we should be aware of?

You may well be referred to as ‘me babber’. Bristolians are a friendly bunch, but sometimes a bit difficult to understand!

What languages should we expect?

There’s really only one language and that’s ‘Bristle.’ Although the city is a mish mash of many cultures.

One place we should avoid?

One area many will tell you is the St Paul’s area at night. Its been a pretty rough place in the past, but through redevelopment its becoming much better. I would avoid Stapleton Road in Easton though, it was once voted the ‘most dangerous street in the country’ due to the number of drug related crimes committed there.

Best way to get around town?

Definitely on foot.