Bristol used to be epitomised by a few things: strong cider, farmers’ markets and questionable views on immigration – but things have changed.
There was a time when Bristol was dubiously touted as ‘the next London.’
For better or for worse, a number of writers had decided that it’s decidedly multicultural population, combined with its austere Victorian charm, made it directly comparable to the capital. The idea took hold and started to filter through to young people, graduates and trainees, looking for somewhere exciting to live that wouldn’t render them as penniless as the countless homeless people lining the streets of Westminster.
Word began to spread that Bristol was the place for young professionals to go. A diverse town that accepted people of all races and religions, a place with it’s own currency and thriving arts scene. Most importantly this was a town where you could afford to pay your rent, go out to dinner and have a decent Saturday night without bankrupting yourself for the foreseeable future. Slowly but surely, a migration started to take place and, imperceptibly at first, rental prices started to rise.
10 years later and the cider is still as strong as ever but the passage of time has changed a few things. The internet age has broadened the horizons of the belligerent minds that were trapped in the past and the farmers’ stalls are slowly being replaced by hipster food trucks. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether this progression is a good thing or not…
I took the train West to see how gentrified the town had become and if it could still prove to be a viable alternative for a Londoner seeking a change of scenery.
For any London dweller who’s looking to up sticks but not fly too far from the coop, Bristol is a good option. It takes roughly an hour and 40 minutes to get to, which is probably on par with some unfortunate office dweller’s commutes. One of the joys of this train ride are the ambient noises of the carriage. If you listen carefully, along with the familiar chimes of Candy Crush, you’ll be able to hear the accents of the Bristol-bound folk grow more and more pronounced, as their destination comes ever closer.
Besides an utterly charming accent, the town itself is crammed full of diversions. Trendy restaurants, street food markets, venues regularly playing host to live music and a thriving art scene are just a few of the reasons to take a trip here. I know what you’re thinking though. What makes this any better than London?
One word: accessibility.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Bristol is that this is a cyclist’s city. Students, doctors and lawyers alike all travel by bike and for good reason, Bristol has been voted one of the most cycle friendly cities in the country. If Bristolians aren’t cycling then they’re walking through the picturesque alleys and side streets that make up a great deal of Bristol’s walkways. The main centre of the city is small, so you’ll find that you’ll be able to walk to most of the destinations that you have in mind. For trips that will take you a little further afield to the suburbs, you can use the simple train system that runs around the circumference of the city.