Monday, April 6, 2015

Bristol, England & Cardiff, Wales

Our next stop on our UK trip was a weekend in Bristol and Cardiff to catch up with more family and friends.  We lived in Cardiff for 20 years before we moved to the USA, so we have lots of fond memories there!  However, as there was a six-nations rugby match in Cardiff Millennium Stadium that weekend, which meant staying in Cardiff itself would have been "difficult" for all sorts of reasons, we stopped over in Bristol.  We'd never really spent much time in Bristol before, other than visiting my brother and his family on the outskirts.  But this time we stayed in the city centre, and after family visits, we did a little exploring ourselves. 

Bristol is another ancient seaport, although the docks have since been moved to the outskirts of the city.  It sits on the river Avon, and has been a key trading point for the UK since around 1000 AD, as well as a starting point for many global explorers in the 15th century.  Bristol is also heavily associated with the engineering exploits of Isambard Kingdom Brunel who designed the Great Western Railway between Bristol and London, two pioneering steamships, including SS Great Britain which is still in port today, and the picturesque Clifton Suspension Bridge.  The Harbourside area is now filled with restaurants and bars, places of interest such as the Bristol Aquarium and the M Shed, and the odd outdoor market which was good to browse.  You can also tour some of Banksy's infamous works of art here, too.

The Matthew, a reconstruction of the boat originally used
by John Cabot when he discovered Newfoundland in 1497,
and now used for harbour tours in the summer.

The masts of SS Great Britain rise behind the old dock buildings

Colourfully painted houses on Bristol Waterfront
We spent a good day wondering around the waterfront and stopping for the occasional coffee and slice of cake in one of the many cafes and bars along the dock.  In the evening, we enjoyed a lovely tapas meal at Pata Negra, indulging in our favourite jamon iberico.
From Bristol, it is a relatively short 50 minute train journey under the River Severn into Wales and into Cardiff.  It was great to revisit "our" city, to catch up with old friends albeit briefly, and to feel content in the familiarity of everything (and relief that not much has changed in our absence!).
Cardiff Castle, parts of which date back 2000 years

But it was literally a flying visit, and then it was the start of the final week of our trip - visiting my family on the south coast near Portsmouth.

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