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A Weekend in Bristol: Festivities, Food and Furry Animals

Home > London > Animals and Wildlife | Cinema | Restaurants
by Victoria Granville (subscribe)
I'm a student studying Russian at Leeds University. After having spent a year in Moscow keeping a blog I have grown to love travel journalism. Feel free to read my Moscow blog
Published November 16th 2012
The Christmas Market in Broadmead
Broadmead Christmas Market

It's only the beginning of November and already Bristol is in full Christmas spirit! The Christmas lights have been lit, there is a Christmas market, an ice-rink in the city centre and shops are teeming with Christmas goodies. Bristol is a vibrant city but I was glad to be with my friend who knew it well, because to me it was a maze. I'm usually quite good with directions, and getting my bearings, but in Bristol I truly felt like I was in a never ending maze. That's why if you ever think of going, keep a map close at hand or get as good a guide as the one I had.

On the Friday evening we went out to Vincenzo's Pizza House just off of Park Street. Everything about the place looked quirky, authentic and delicious, with it's bright blue exterior and enticing signs with the promise of steak - which we were desperately craving! Inside the decor wasn't disappointing. The walls were covered with old post cards and family photos, which made the space very welcoming. The service was brilliant as well, not only did the food arrive on time but the waiter was very friendly. This wasn't surprising as the restaurant itself was empty - a fact that we were at first surprised about (due to the restaurant's location and its beautiful decor) but which came evident later when the food arrived.

We should have known what was coming, what with the empty restaurant and with the fact that when we did come in confused whether the 'Pizza House' served steak at all we were told in response that the restaurant 'did everything'. I should know better by now, if a restaurant claims to do everything it usually means that the quality of the food is far below par. So when the steak and chips arrived, we should not have been surprised at how bland it all tasted. No amount of salt, pepper, mustard or ketchup did anything to change that.

After a very unsatisfying meal, we went to the Brass Pig. This great pub, located in the Triangle, filled us with remorse. Remorse at seeing all the deliciously smelling and bountifully full plates of food coming past. People tucking into steaks that were obviously far more delicious than the one's we had just had, and chunky chips that made our mouths water. Having been thoroughly unsatisfied with the previous meal we could have ordered anew but decided to save our money and buy drinks instead.

The inside was beautifully decorated with wooden flooring, tables and chairs. There are also very comfortable leather sofas available. The upstairs is the restaurant and bar, with a terrace outside, which to our great relief was equipped with heaters. Relief as we wanted to stay as far away as possible from the vast numbers of lucky people enjoying delicious food. Downstairs was much darker and was obviously a dance room, but was not yet teeming with people as it was far too early for that.

The next morning we decided to go to Bristol Zoo. Yes, Bristol has a zoo and a great one at that. It can be reached by buses number 8 and 9 from the city centre, and is quite cheap for a zoo. There are also plenty of discounts that are clearly advertised on their website. I thought that going to a zoo in the winter might be quite depressing but in Bristol Zoo all the animals are kept in excellent conditions and look healthy and happy.

My favourite moment, which happened to be one of the first things we saw, was in the Twilight zone. Though it's hard to see the animals in there due to the darkness, it's fun to play 'see if you can spot it' game. But in the moment I'm talking about the animals were very easy to spot. They were sloths and owl monkeys living together. It was extremely entertaining watching the owl monkeys jumping around the slow-moving sloth making its way along the branch. At the zoo they also have a reptile house, a bug house, an aquarium, a seal enclosure, a Brazil zone, and much, much more.

Meerkat at Bristol Zoo
Meerkat at Bristol Zoo

After a lovely time at the zoo we went to the Showcase Cinema in Cabot Circus. Here I'll take a moment to describe Cabot Circus. This so-called mall is so big that it has street names in it! It is absolutely amazing. Not only this, but on exiting the mall one ends up straight onto Broadmead, which at the moment has a fantastic Christmas market on with an ice-skating rink. Following that there is a whole other street filled with shops, most noticeably the unbelievably huge Primark. To shoppers delight this is not horribly filled with people, as though many shoppers go there, the space in the actual shop is so huge that it seems no matter how many shoppers are inside there will never be a feeling of stuffiness or claustrophobia. The Showcase Cinema itself is one of the best cinemas I have ever been to. Not only do they sell popcorn and ice-cream but also fries and hamburgers. Moreover, when you actually get into the theatre and sit down your chair adjusts to you. No buttons need pressing, nothing, your seat adjusts to your weight so that you are utterly at ease - bliss.
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Why? Because Bristol is a fun, vibrant city
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