We have spent most of the month of January in Bristol helping Chelsea and Sam get set up in their new flat. How awesome that we had the chance to do this! We have always wanted to live abroad. We are now doing our best to make it happen in our own way by bouncing around from country to country which is great, but I always thought it would be terrific if we could really settle in and feel like/ become a local. We have been living vicariously through Chelsea and Sam as we looked for apartments and then got to help them move in and make the place their own. We feel like we got to actually live here for the last month and it’s been fun to explore this interesting and ancient city as if it were indeed our home.
They have been living in Copenhagen for the last year and a half and they absolutely loved it; but they are really excited about living in a place that is a little less expensive and where English is the native tongue. They also love that they can still travel inexpensively throughout Europe with Bristol as their home base. They moved to Bristol without ever having been there. Sam’s job helped pay for their move but shipping all their belongings would have been expensive – beyond what the company would cover. It was cheaper for them to sell nearly everything they owned in Copenhagen and buy what they needed for the apartment once they got to Bristol. It was quite a job!
So, we spent a lot of time at IKEA! We had a rental car for a while which was very helpful for transporting purchases from the store to the flat. But Bristol is a very walkable city and the transit system is good so you don’t really need a car. After we returned the car it was a whole new experience to shop at IKEA. We walked 10 minutes to the bus stop, rode the double decker and then called an Uber for the ride back with all the new gear. It worked quite well! We would never have needed to go to IKEA if we were just traveling through instead of living like a local for a month.
The apartment is in the part of the city called Southville, in a building that used to be a church. It is so cool and we loved getting to know the neighborhood. This part of Bristol is such a great, up and coming area. It’s a little funky with lots of street art and roads that are filled with unique shops with great local food stores, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants. Getting groceries is so much fun. It’s not like going to the local supermarket in a minivan. One night we went to the butcher, the baker, the green grocer, a local deli and a Tesco Express (a tiny grocery store) to get everything we needed to make dinner. Taking bags is imperative. In order to limit the amount of plastic bags that get thrown away, most stores charge you if you need plastic bags when you check out (it's the law for chain stores). Walking back to the apartment can be a work out carrying all your groceries! It’s a great way to shop – just enough for a day or two and only as much as you can carry. The refrigerator is much smaller than the standard size in the States so you don’t have much room for more, anyway. We had some amazing meals in that apartment. The other great way to get groceries is to order them online and have them delivered to your door for free! This makes it so easy to function without a car. Waitrose delivery is awesome! I never would have known this was possible if I were only traveling as a tourist.
We loved taking advantage of the historical and cultural aspects of this great city too. One afternoon we visited the stunning St. Mary Redcliffe Church, which happens to be located right across the street from Sam's work. People have been worshipping on the site of the Church for over 900 years and the sanctuary is absolutely glorious. We also did a little self guided street art tour. There’s loads of street art all over Bristol – Banksy is from here and has left his mark all over town. We attended a concert at Colston Hall by The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and it was truly spectacular. We toured the SS Great Britain, a former passenger steamship that changed the course of shipbuilding when it was launched in 1843. On Saturday we went to the movies. It was in the fabulous Everyman Theater with couches and drinks delivered right to your seat. We saw The Darkest Hour, all about Churchill during World War II. My parents, who lived through World War II, loved Churchill and when I was growing up they told me about his inspiring radio broadcasts. It was a moving experience to see this poignant film in Bristol, England, where parts of town that were bombed during the blitz are memorialized and the legacy of the last world war still resonates in a powerful way, even today.
So this was our best “workaway” experience so far! It was great to be with Chelsea and Sam and get to know their new city in a way that we could not have done as tourists. We are so fortunate to have had the chance to travel like a local in a fascinating and important city that doesn’t even make it into many guidebooks.
Are you planning a trip somewhere in Europe? We can help with that! Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Italy, France, Ireland, England and all of Europe. We also still have spots available on our small group trip to Tuscany and our small group trip to Piedmont! We'd love for you to join us! You can always reach Betsy at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!