Counter-culture capital – de facto – of the United Kingdom, Bristol has an obsession with unicorns and hot balloons and is home of the well known street art creator Banksy. You can see his creations all over the walls in this busy with a hipster vibe city.
As I have lived in Bristol for more than a year now, I feel strangely attached to this rather weird city, neither big enough to feel really lost in it, nor small to get easily bored walking on its rather narrow streets.
Pros of living in Bristol
- Cultural life. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is my all time favorite art centre. Lots of paintings, more or less famous, but nonetheless inspiring. Bristol is home to many live music venues and vibrant street art (after all, this is the city where the world-renowned street artist Banksy originates from) as well. If you haven’t heard of Banksy yet, you don’t really like street art I guess. Also, based in Bristol is the Spike Island, an international centre for the development of contemporary art and design. Many artists and designers have working spaces there. Or you may go to Arnolfini, a leading centre for the contemporary arts which is housed in former tea warehouse where you could admire five exhibition spaces and a theatre/cinema auditorium. At Arnolfini you can walk into of the best independent art bookshops in the country as well.
- Stunning mother nature meditation places. If you need every so often breaks from life’s daily stress and you’re looking for a nice and quiet place where you can experience inner peace, reconnect with the amazing beauty of nature, or you just want to soak in beautiful scenery, Bristol is the right city for you.
- Clifton Bridge surrounding areas. Beautiful and elegant, Clifton Suspension Bridge is very emblematic of the city. Tourists from all over the world come here to admire the structure of this amazing feat of engineering and Avon Gorge as well. But don’t get me wrong, the Clifton bridge is a historical attraction and looks nice especially in the sunset, but after all it is just an old bridge. However, the surrounding area is spectacular, and you can spend hours in awe or meditation or writing in your travel diary on a bench up the hill near to the Clifton Observatory enjoying the outstanding view and the birds’ chirp. It’s a great place for nature amateur painters as well.
- The Harbourside. Even early in the morning you’ll be in the company of a lot of joggers, dog walkers and cyclists along the water’s edge, so it’s not really the place for a quiet walk in the morning fresh crisp air, if is that what you want. However, the harbourside is full of other attractions, from the vintage yachts to most enticing terraces, cafes and bars you’ll see in Western England.
- Bristol has a easygoing hipster and causal vibe. Once you leave the house, you can feel that positive energy in the air, it’s optimism mixed with high hopes floating around.
- Atmosphere aside, the Bristolians are very proud of their city and have a real sense of beauty. Every corner, every street, every patio in the city is nicely arranged and abound in beautiful flowers, street paintings, plain green grass, vintage benches or old trees.
Cons of living in Bristol
- First Bus service sucks. There are several complains about first bus, but the main issues are that bus service is slow and unreliable. If you ride the bus now and then it probably does not bother you when they don’t come on time (unless you got a train or a plane to catch) but if you’re relying on buses to get to the job every day, like I do, delays, cancellations and overcrowding are really really annoying. Sometimes you have to wait for about 1 hour for the bus (nr. 2 for instant) although they were supposed to provide a bus every 20 minutes. And the times you do wait 40,50 or even 60 minutes for one, two will arrive at once. At other times, the drivers would shut the doors just in front of you if they see you running to catch the bus. Last summer a bus driver crossed the line and closed the doors in front a visible pregnant woman. I was in the bus watching her running toward the bus which seemed to wait for her only to shut the doors when she was close. How cruel was that?! And this happened to me several times, too. And last year I was riding the same dirty bus number 45 for several days (coca cola spilled on the floor) until they finally cleaned it.
- First bus services suck. Again. And a hundred times more.
- Narrow streets, but I think this is a problem in the entire United Kingdom, I guess.
- Medical services. Pray to God not to need any of them, because you’ll have either to treat yourself or to go in another country for a proper medical check and treatment. Last year my gallbladder was infected and the only tablets I got from my GP were pain killers, when I obviously needed antibiotics. Lucky I had some spare tablets or else I was in real trouble. I was put on a surgery waiting list and after 2 years I am still waiting. I heard it takes at least 6-7 years of waiting to have a surgery here.
- The Bristolian accent. It is horrible, I can barely understand a Bristolian when talking real fast. To be completely true, it is hard to understand them even when they don’t talk that fast. An old lady told me in Swansea that she – a Welsh native – does not understand Bristolians as well. That was comforting, really.
- And the list is open.