One of the teacher’s unions at the University of Bristol was on strike last week and most of my classes were canceled, so I decided to use that time to explore parts of Bristol and just get lost in the city. I didn’t have much of a game plan for each morning, but the campus bus ran to the City Centre every morning and I knew I could just figure it out once I got there.
The first place I went to was the Bristol Christmas Market. Now that the holiday season is in full swing, I knew it was the perfect way to spend my afternoon in the city! Similar to the German Christmas Market we have in Philly, the Christmas Market here is filled with lots of yummy treats, fresh bread and cheese, stands selling all sorts of trinkets, and Christmas music filled the air. At the entrance of the market was a giant Christmas tree which made for a perfect photo backdrop. There were twinkling lights, plastic snowmen families, and candy cane decorations scattered around making the whole place feel like a Christmas village. My favourite stand was the one selling Belgian waffles. I bought one that was completely drowned in Nutella to the point where you could barely see the waffle underneath. I made sure to brush my teeth extra hard that night!
My craving for sweets didn’t end there, of course. I ended up at a cafe one afternoon after feeling cramped sitting in my flat all morning. There’s an ongoing debate of which popular chain cafe in the UK sells the best hot chocolate, Costa or Cafe Nero. I decided to settle this debate once and for all. I’ve tasted Cafe Nero’s hot chocolate and was very impressed, so I decided to stretch my legs and take the bus to the nearest Costa for the taste-test. The cafe was filled with uni students taking a quick break between lectures, catching up on homework, and just hanging out with friends. After ordering my drink I plopped down on a comfy armchair and started to read the book I brought with me. I have to admit, while I thought both cafes make delicious hot chocolates, Costa’s narrowly won. I’ll have to compare their coffees next time because I’m sure that’s another controversial debate.
One of my favourite places to visit when I arrived several months ago was the Harbourside. I was surprised to see so many people there one morning while I was wandering the city, even though it was absolutely freezing outside. The marina was always filled with boats, and the restaurants along the docks had the best outdoor seating areas. I walked up the path alongside the water and sat down on a bench and watched people sail out into the water. Normally, I would turn back towards the city at this point, but I never explored what was further so I continued walking along the path. This lead me to a bridge that connected the paths along both sides of the harbour and I noticed that it was covered in locks. It reminded me of the famous “love lock bridges” found in Paris, and I thought it was sweet that the tradition was carried on in Bristol.
I’ve passed Bristol’s local farmers’ market every Saturday morning on my way to the bus and train station and I finally got to visit it this week. There were about ten vendors, each one with their own fresh food displayed! There was produce, cheese, bread, pastry, gelato, jam, and honey stands set up on the corner of a busy intersection. I took my time exploring each of the stands before settling on some fresh Indian food and a pastry. While traveling around the UK, and in Bristol in general, I’ve found that many people prefer shopping locally to support small businesses! I’ve really enjoyed doing this and loved hearing how passionate the vendorswere about their products!
I ended the week with a trip to St. Nicholas Market in Bristol’s City Centre. Like the other markets I’ve visited, this one was filled with everything you could imagine including stalls selling succulents, art pieces, clothing, jewelry, and of course lots of food! I spent most of my time wandering the aisles of the covered portion and I purchased some souvenirs to bring back home to family and friends. Afterwards, I ventured outside where there were more tents set up, and despite the freezing cold, there were many people eyeing all the tables while trying to decide what they wanted to buy. With Christmas coming up, there were tons of decorations hung from the ceilings of the covered market and lights strung on the tables of the outdoor portion. It was a festive and lovely place to explore that morning.
I had a really fun time seeing the parts of Bristol I had not been to before. I felt like a tourist again, even though I’ve been living here for three months! I think the most enjoyable part about my exploration was not having a plan mapped out. Every morning I woke up, bundled up in my hat and gloves, and set off on an adventure. Each experience was new and exciting in its own way and I was able to check off a lot of boxes on the “Must See in Bristol” list without even trying!
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.