from Bath, England to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Bristol Travel Blog

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Philipp & Evans by Clifton Suspension Bridge over Avon Gorge with Clifton Observatory behind us

I had a BritRail pass, but Philipp did not have money for the train, so we decided to hitch hike around 6:00.  Observing that the vast majority of cars were sub-compact, it seemed unlikely anyone would stop to pick up two additional passengers with huge backpacks and I was on the verge of giving up after nearly 120 minutes.  Just then, however, a little blue car pulled over and a kind fellow offered us a lift.  He dropped us off in the center of Bristol and directed us toward the bridge to the suburb of Clifton.


Philipp and I split a four-pack of terrible English beer as we approached Clifton Suspension Bridge.  The night was already dark when we crossed Avon Gorge and reached the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

Saturday Nightglow at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. the balloons were lit in time with music. (England)
  Complete with carnival amusements and vendors, the festival was bustling with activity.  Soon after we arrived, the fireworks display began and a spread of low shell blast filled the sky above us.  Each explosion was followed by a shower of fading cinders and glowing debris.  Smoldering soot landed on the ground around me, but also on my arms and in my eyes.


When the bombardment was over, we followed the drove of fairgoers to a hill overlooking the main event, Saturday Nightglow.  The inflated balloons swayed gently over their grounded baskets in the dim field below.  As music played through the sound system, the pilots choreographed their timing and fired each burner to the beat.  As the propane ignited in each lifting envelope in succession, vibrant colors emerged from the illuminated fabrics like giant lanterns.


After the fiesta closed, we took a bus to the rail station, but I missed the last train into Cardiff by 25 minutes.  The two of us walked past Saint Mary Redcliffe to the local YHA (Youth Hostel Association) and found it as full as every other place in town due to the festival, although we did convince the attendant to care for rucksacks until 6:00am.  Free of our luggage, we meandered through town observing the wild nightlife until 3:00 in the morning.  The city of Bristol is full of churches, fountains, and modern art (architectural) sculptures.


Thoroughly exhausted and having seen most of the city, we took a much needed break on a stoop atop a hilly street.  The early morning hours became much cooler as we ran out of the energy to speak.  At 4:00am, we returned to the town centre by the hostel and hung out with a hot chocolate at Barista’s listening to the waiter’s INXS CD.  An hour later, we made the 15-minute walk back to Bristol Youth Hostel to stay warm in the TV Room and dozed off on the sofas for a couple of hours.

ctjevans says:
it was. that was my first time thumbing a ride anywhere, so the experience was certainly new and interesting. having done so later inspired me to give other hitchhikers a lift when I was driving my rental car in Ireland.
Posted on: Feb 09, 2008
korrahh says:
Hitchhiking in the UK sounds interesting
Posted on: Feb 09, 2008
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Philipp & Evans by Clifton Suspens…
Philipp & Evans by Clifton Suspen…
Saturday Nightglow at Bristol Inte…
Saturday Nightglow at Bristol Int…
photo by: petit_gooroo