Wednesday and Thursday, no cycling: two leisurely days in Bristol - Southwest England in April - CycleBlaze

April 23, 2014 to April 24, 2014

Wednesday and Thursday, no cycling: two leisurely days in Bristol


The buffet breakfasts at the hotel were wonderful after almost three weeks of “full English”. Eva could hardly look at bacon by this point and cold toast had totally lost its charms. We very much enjoyed the choice of fresh fruit, pastries, croissants, local cheeses, various egg dishes and excellent strong coffee with real cream, in the comfortable dining room overlooking the water.

We had planned to cycle to Bath one day with unloaded bikes, but changed our minds and left the bikes parked in the staff bicycle kiosk for our time in Bristol. Bath is well worth visiting, but we had stayed there on an earlier trip, so didn't feel compelled to go there again. After seven days in a row of cycling, it was good to have two full days off the bikes and there was plenty to see in Bristol. We walked many kilometres along the waterfront and through the downtown.

A branch of the Floating Harbour in the centre of Bristol (It's not that the harbour actually floated, but that this elevated and controlled branch of the river allowed larger vessels to float)
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Another view of the Floating Harbour near the museum
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We spent most of a morning touring the preserved HMS Great Britain, the first ever luxury passenger liner, built by Bristol's famous son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who also designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The elaborately preserved SS Great Britain sits in a sealed climate-controlled dry dock alongside the harbour. It is surrounded by a glass enclosure at the water line with a few inches of water on top to suggest a natural setting.
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An industrial scale de-humidifier system is used to prevent rusting and deterioration of the hull plates
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A view of the deck looking forward. At one time another level of superstructure was added on this deck for some of its voyages. The ship languished in the Falkland Islands for many decades before it was finally brought back and restored.
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Compact bunks in the third class accommodations. The ship was launched in 1843 and was the largest and only iron-hulled vessel of its time.
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Not far from the ship was the huge Mud Dock cafe and bicycle shop. We were in desperate need of another tube for our 20-inch Bike Friday tires and were sure we could pick one up here. However they only had tubes with Schraeder valves and we needed Presta. We were told it would be impossible to find Presta valve tubes in the UK! We asked about a new Schwalbe Marathon tire, but there were no 20-inch tires at all except for BMX ones. Later that day in the quirky St. Nicholas market, we came upon the Chaos bike stall, and not only did they have the Presta tubes we needed, but there were several 20-inch Schwalbe Marathon tires hanging from a rack! After some deliberation Al purchased a new tire along with several tubes.

Inside the Mud Dock bicycle cafe
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The M-Shed Bristol Museum was another stop on our peregrinations along the waterfront. There were well-done displays about the history of the city, including quite decent coverage of Bristol's involvement in the slave trade. Many slave ships departed from Bristol and prominent local merchants grew rich on the proceeds.

We discovered the early bird dinners at the Glassboat restaurant just across from our hotel and were surprised at the high quality and good value of a place that looked like a tourist trap. We ate dinner there both evenings, and it was lovely to sit right on the water and watch the scullers rowing by and the swans congregating.

The view from the floating restaurant where we had dinner twice - they also served the best bread we encountered during the whole trip
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Inside the Glassboat restaurant as the earliest of birds to arrive that evening
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