Shoping in Bristol
Shoping in Bristol Reviews
A Shopping tour of Bristol Feb 14, 2009
OK, it's only free if you have much, much better self control than me. But no-one's going to MAKE you buy stuff. It's not like there's a cover charge.
Bristol is one of the few cities in the South West that feel like cities, rather than just big towns blessed with Cathedrals. I mean, Exeter and Bath are lovely, but no-one arriving in either would think "wow, this place is metropolitan!" Actually, you wouldn't think that about Bristol if you'd been in London or Manchester recently, let alone New York or Jakarta, but lets gloss over that. Bristol has art house cinemas, restaurants, a fair sized port just downstream, and shops.
I have gone on at length about the other charms of Bristol in other blogs, so today, it's the shops we'll concentrate on.
Wear flat shoes, for a start. Bristol is a laid back city and has hills, so you won't want uncomfortable shoes on. Start your shopping tour at the floating harbour. All the guides will tell you to start with Cabot Circus, but I have a very good reason not to. And that reason is Park Street, a steep hill lined with the quirky boutiques of the city. Somehow, the street has retained loads of cool clothing shops, vintage stores, and Fopp. Fopp is a place of wonder, stocking chart CDs for ridiculously cheap money, cool books, and dvds. At the top of Park street there are surf shop type places, because this is the last major shopping city before the South West proper begins, but I ignore them as too expensive. Another good place to browse is the Bristol Guild, which I love, but rarely spend any money in because it's all a bit pricey. Sometimes there are free samples in the food hall, though, so always worth a look.
At the top of Park street, if the weather is nice, I would strongly recommend stopping in Shakin Stevens to try one of their milkshakes. There are quite literally hundreds of kinds and it is well worth the inevitable queue. Then you can take it across the road and up a side street into the park on Brandon Hill and admire the view.
After your milkshake, you have the choice of wandering into Clifton (which I will ignore today, but it is very nice) or turning right towards the hospitals and city centre. If you go towards the hospital, you will pass the Historic Christmas Steps, one of the few parts of Bristl not to get flattened in the war, which has a couple of interesting shops on. There are also some interesting shops on the main road, inclusing one that sells icons, of all things. Past the Bristol Royal Infirmary hospital, turn right towards the city centre keeping the Eye hosptial on your right the whole time. This brings you through the bit they haven't redeveloped yet, towards the mighty Cabot Circus.
Cabot circus is about a year old, maybe less, and finally brings Urban Outfitters and Mango to the region. There is also a Zara and a nice H&M. So top end of cool high street, basically, at this end. Continuing through Cabot Circus, you come to a sort of fake village square bit where the expensive shops are. For example, there is a whole Radley bag shop. This will mean absolutely nothing to any men who haven't stopped reading yet, but girls, they are so worth a look. Although if you can afford to actually buy them you have a much, much better job than me.
At the end of this part, there is Chandos Deli which does lovely coffee, better and cheaper than Starbucks, and has olives on the deli bar. I love Olives. I wouldn't take a vegan though, because of all the amazing cured meat and cheese. And that brings you into the older part of the city centre, with the sort of high street stores that the rest of the UK has. Hurry through this part, aiming back towards the floating harbour, and you will pass the St Nicholas Markets.
Maybe I should have taken you here first, because I'm not sure how late they stay open. But the St Nicholas Market has a slow food market on some Sundays, loads of cool, cheap-ish silver jewelry, and t-shirts and rock clothes and a south african food shop and decent goat curry. And more vintage clothing. There are usually more quirky jewelry stalls on the street here, so if you promised to bring your sister something back with you, there are worse places to be.
Hopefully, it's summer. Which means you can take your goat curry or Pieminster pie to the fountains on the floating harbour and cool off. If it's winter, then perhaps you can have another coffee in the Arnolfini. Unless you are actually as rich as I would like to be, in which case I read great things about Bordeux Quay, which specialises in local organic produce. But I've never been.
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