When an ex Indonesian work colleague of more than 10 years ago told me he planned to visit me in the UK, I got a bit excited; as having a visitor from far away is not usual. He said he was doing a 2 week UK tour and at the end of the tour he and his family planned to visit me in Bristol. Well, this discussion started 6 months ago with an occasional text message exchanged via our mobiles. The discussion got more intense as he got closer to the day he was leaving for the UK.
His visit to see me in Bristol was for less than a week, say 3 nights, and they intended to stay in a hotel, but my excitement started to build up prior to his visit. The question of whereabouts in Bristol should I take them; day visits are easy as I can show them around where I live, which to me is pretty amazing. But what about the other days?
The excitement of planning how to show somebody (that I knew from my previous life that I left behind over 10 years ago), about my new life in the UK, where I now live. It reminds me that many years ago I wanted to become a tour guide, before starting my career in the construction industry.
As my old friend is also an architect, he should be interested in buildings, architecture as well as maybe the history of architecture. So that was the basis of where I should take Mr. A . around Bristol. But I also needed to consider his wife and children and what were their interests. Luckily he told me that he had a a grown up daughter who studied architecture. So it should not be too difficult. But what about the wife?…? as one of most tourists favourite activity is “shopping”. So I hope they’ve done their UK shopping before reaching Bristol.
Bristol is not like a typical UK city which has a main High Street where people walk and enjoy shopping in the high-street fashion shops as well as cute little independent gift shops or to have a break in a cosy little coffee or tea-shop. I did not say that Bristol has not got such shops, its just dotted around the city that could make the walk un-enjoyable. Thus I will take them for a walk around the Floating Harbour (Harbourside) without going shopping. I guess this will take the whole morning, which is normally a one hour walk.
SS Great Britain is located in the Harbourside area. There’s the Under Fall Yard, a little museum not very famous, but shows how the Floating Harbour works and a good educational museum that helps children and adults over 10 to understand the mechanics of removing the silt/mud from the floating harbour. Another attraction around Harbourside is M-Shed – Bristol Museum. I could drag them off to cross Queen Square and off to St. Nicholas Market, before we walk back towards Ibis Central Hotel. Ideally if the walk happens on Saturday, they can visit the interesting Weekend Market where they can see how local artists sell their products every Sunday and Saturday.
I guess Bristol has many attractions. The attraction that one has to visit is the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the spectacular view of the Avon Gorge as well as the design of the Bridge itself. You can go there by foot if you stay in Clifton, but for us, to walk across as well as feel the size of the bridge, we needed to go by car and walk across.
Not far from the bridge is Durdham Downs or as we call it ‘The Downs’ which is a beautiful interesting open recreational Green Space where people can walk and jog as well as local amateur football clubs train and play their games. For somebody who is more interested in culture and the local way of life, going to the Downs on a Saturday morning is a different kind of tour.
By the end of the day, visiting a new place is not about visiting touristy and shopping places only, but the feel of how the local people live their daily life, which is more interesting, and I think that helps to shape the city.
However, in the neighbourhood of Bristol, there are plenty of other interesting places, which are off the radar of the usual international tourist, but equally interesting, such as the visiting the National Trust houses.
If you are lucky, visiting Bristol at the right period of time, experiencing a a carriage ride pulled by the shire horse, could be yours too.
Now, do you think I could be a professional tour guide?