At the end of August, we booked a last minute trip to Bristol. I had wanted to visit the world famous Balloon fiesta for years and even though I used to live pretty near to Bristol in Gloucestershire, I’d never actually made it down for the same weekend as the balloons. Having visited Bristol some 30+ times before, I was adamant I wanted to stay in Clifton as that is my favourite area, with its lovely restaurants, boutique shops and stunning views of the suspension bridge and Avon Gorge.
We booked to stay in the Avon Gorge hotel, which I had previously visited for food (The White Lion Bar). We were lucky enough to get the last room left on the night and even more lucky that we had accrued a hotels.com reward night, so the hotel was free. Our plan was to arrive mid afternoon on the Friday, watch the evening balloon ascent from the suspension bridge and then go down to the festival site the following day. However the weather didn’t play ball and the balloons didn’t go up on Friday night.
When we checked in to the beautiful Avon Gorge hotel, the lovely receptionist told us they were hosting breakfast on the terrace of their White Lion bar at 5am, to watch the early morning ascent and said it was a sight not to be missed. I had to talk Matt into it, with the promise he could go back to sleep afterwards but that became the new plan. We were so surprised when we checked into our gorgeous room. We booked this hotel purely on location, but the rooms are AMAZING, very decadent, huge comfy bed, giant bathrooms some really cool art, amazing views and to top it off, they’d left us a plate of strawberries dipped in chocolate. Both the staff and hotel itself were amazing and I couldn’t rate it highly enough, the same could be said for the restaurant & bar. I strongly recommend you check it out if you are ever in the area. The only thing I would say as the tiniest negative is that the mini bar prices are extortionate, to be fair, I think this is the same everywhere as we never normally use anything, but Matt ate some crisps without looking at the price…eeek.
After we had checked in, we went to find food, we stopped at Fujiyama and had a really lovely meal of yummy sushi and it was great value for money as well.
After dinner we wandered around Clifton, finding all the Wallace and Gromit statues and took a walk over the suspension bridge to watch the sun set.
We were on the Terrace just after 5am, and kept warm with hot chocolate and bacon sandwiches whilst waiting (Impatiently) to see if the balloons would in fact fly. Just before 6am came the news the balloons were to lift and a few minutes later we spotted the first one. I’m actually sat here welling up, trying to explain the feeling of seeing the balloons emerge from behind the trees and fly over our heads and over the suspension bridge. I found the whole thing a bit emotional as Hot Air Balloons always remind me of my lovely dad, when we were little we would “Chase” them in the car to find where they land and now whenever I see one it makes me think of him. I didn’t take as many photos as I intended too as I was too lost in the moment but let me just say it was certainly worth getting up at 5am for and something I won’t forget easily.
We were planning to head down to the festival early afternoon, however the weather was poor and it seemed unlikely the balloons would fly again, so we changed our plan to go and see some of Bristol’s art we hadn’t seen before. We’ve previously seen all off the Banksy pieces in Bristol other than the one in the Bristol Museum so that was our first stop. Then we headed to Bedminster as I had been told the week before they had hosted a street art festival and the streets were freshly adorned with new art.
The quality and variety of the street art in Bedminster was just brilliant, a great free way to spend a few hours locating as many of the works as possible. Again I’d really recommend this if you’re going to be in the area.
What are your favourite spots in Bristol?