UK – Bristol

A while ago I read that Bristol is a very up coming city when it comes to veganism and that it’s even one of the best cities in the UK for vegan options. Bristol is only an hour drive from where I live most of the time and so I decided to take my van and explore the city. Even though I did take my van, I’m not posting this under ‘Vanlife’, because all I basically used my van for was sleeping. For me Bristol was all about good vegan food, sunshine, beautiful historic buildings and the best views! If you want to know what to do in Bristol and where to eat, please keep reading and I hope I can inspire you to visit this lovely city as well.

I planned to leave on Saturday morning, but as I was a little slow and had to make a stop at Halfords (one of my fuses burned), it was more 14:00 by the time I left. I did some research on Park4Night to figure out where I could best park my van, but when I came to my chosen parking area, it was all full. The second option was the zoo. So I went there next. A lot of people were just leaving the zoo and so there were some free spaces and I found a perfect parking spot next to a beautiful tree. I arrived there just after 15:00 and it turned out that parking after 15:00 is free. Lucky me!

I took the bus to the city centre (bus 8) and there I searched on Happy Cow for a nice vegan restaurant. I decided to walk to ‘Vx’, an all vegan junk food restaurant. Honestly, the picture of a milkshake that included a donut and whipped cream made me go, haha! I only ate 2 apples so far and was quite hungry. I know this isn’t a very healthy thing to do, but I just didn’t take the time to eat a proper meal. It was a lovely walk in the sunshine and Nola and I enjoyed the first proper sights of Bristol. The area where the restaurant is located, is quite dodgy though and I wouldn’t feel safe walking there when it’s dark. I ordered the milkshake, that turned out to be a Vego milkshake.. I mean, can it get any better? I also ordered the Vx burger. If you go for junk food, you should do it right, right? The milkshake was so yum! The donut tasted fresh, the whipped cream delicious and it was really like drinking a vego bar. I think they used coconut milk and I do think that with maybe Oatly Barista it would taste even better. But in their defence, I think everything tastes better with Oatly Barista. The burger was ok. It was a good burger, but not very special. It came with tortilla crisps, but I was too full to eat those and so I took them with me. They have a little shop in the restaurant too,with lots of vegan goodies and I bought some chocolate to take with me to the Netherlands. The people who work in Vx are super nice and the restaurant is very dog friendly. I also would come back again for the milkshake. Only maybe the next time I will invite someone to come with me, so we can share it (I was sooo full and it took me quite a while to finish it). What was a little unfortunate is that I forgot to change shoes and I was wearing my vans. Weird enough, they happen to be my least comfortable shoes. So my feet were hurting and because of all that junk food, I didn’t feel very energetic. I struggled a little to get all the way back to the bus stop, but I made it and I was happy to see my van in the end of the day and to instantly relax. It’s a good thing to have your bed close by all the time.

It was the first night that I was sleeping in my van in a very unfamiliar place. I was so excited, that I didn’t sleep very well, but I was ok the next day. Around 9:00 there were zoo visitors coming into the parking area, but the ticket guys were all guiding them towards the other side first. I was the only one parked up in the back. I got ready and walked up to the guy to buy a ticket. He looked a bit confused, but he did sell me a ticket. Only £4 for a whole day. I’m definitely coming back to this park up. I found a cafe called ‘East Village’ and it was only a short walk. It was a beautiful walk though, with many nice houses, amazing trees and the stunning building of Clifton College. Arriving at ‘East Village’, I fell in love instantly. This is one of the prettiest cafes ever. The ceilings are super high, it feels so spacious and everything is just done well. I felt like staying there the whole day. It’s a vegetarian cafe, but a lot of what they offer is vegan. I was doubting between the savoury waffles or the acai bowl, but then decided on the acai bowl. I wanted to eat lots of healthy things today as I had so much junk food the day before. I also went for a fresh orange juice as that is my favourite! It was one of the prettiest bowls I’ve ever seen. It looked so nice, that I didn’t want to eat it, haha! I obviously did though and it was delicious, exactly what I needed. On the map I saw that there was a park not far from there, with a tower you can climb. So after a lovely slow breakfast I set off again. I swapped my vans for my hiking boots btw. It did look a little ridiculous with the clothes I was wearing, but I didn’t care. Comfy rules!

On my way to the Brandon Hill park I bumped into a zero waste shop: Smaller Footprints. Zero waste shops are popping up everywhere now! It was closed, but I waited 10 min for it to open. It was so nice! The girl who worked there, called Eve, told me that they opened over 5 months ago and that it was going well. We had such a lovely chat. I told her the whole story of Oliver and as she was thinking about van life too, we had a good chat about that too. She was also vegan and so we actually had a lot of things to talk about. We were chatting for quite a while! But after I bought a 2 year supply of dental tabs (no joke) and a new black metal reusable straw, I left. I was so happy that I decided to wear my hiking boots by the way, because Bristol is a lot of hills, going up and down. It was a lovely walk with lots of sunshine and as Brandon Hill park is already quite high up, there was a lovely view over Bristol. I took a little break and then climbed the Cabot Tower. The stairs are very narrow, but it’s very much worth it. I loved the views! It was such a good day as well to enjoy the view. Coming down again, Nola and I relaxed a little in the park, sitting in a rain of blossom and then made our way to ‘Beets n Roots’, to have lunch.

The cafe ‘Beets n Roots’ is all about healthy food. Exactly what I wanted! The only thing is that dogs are not allowed inside. Luckily it was very nice weather and so it was more than ok to sit outside (and they did let me go to the toilet, taking Nola with me). The staff is very friendly and one of the girls even offered to be Nola’s dogsitter. I ordered the Buddha Bowl. They come in 2 sizes. Because I had a biscuit as big as my head for snack (from East Village) a little earlier, I ordered the small buddha bowl with tofu and a coconut water. The food was so so good! There were different kinds of (fermented) salad, cauliflower, quinoa and humous. I didn’t want to over eat, but I could have easily eaten a big bowl of this. Next time! Because I couldn’t sit inside, I couldn’t charge my phone though. Luckily, a little further down the road was a Costa and so I had a tea there whilst my phone was on the charger. When charged sufficiently, I made my way to the very popular suspension bridge.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge was opened in 1864 and has been a toll bridge ever since. They use the money for the bridge’s maintenance. The bridge links Clifton (Bristol) to Leigh Woods (North Somerset). It is super high and very beautiful. I’m not crazy about heights, but I did want to cross it. So I did and even though I found it a little scary, it also gave me an empowered feeling. It gave me a similar feeling as standing in front of a tall building (which is my favourite). Feeling very small and very big at the same time. The sun was starting to go down and I did enjoy the lovely rays on the grass, next to the bridge. I didn’t want to walk too far for dinner, but opening my Happy Cow app, I saw that there was an Indian restaurant, called Thali, with lots of vegan options, a 20 min walk from where I was. I didn’t have Indian food for so long, so I went for it. The restaurants looked rather fun too.

It turned out that Thali was on the corner, only a few buildings down from ‘Smaller Footprints’. So I passed it earlier that day, but I didn’t notice. Probably because I was still buzzing from the positive energy the shop (and Eve) gave me. I was the first customer and even though dogs also weren’t allowed, the waiter who welcomed me let me off (as I promised nobody would notice Nola). After that he got the chef to come and he cuddled Nola and showed her to the rest of the kitchen staff (so far from not being noticed, haha!). It was so hard to choose food here, because there were a lot of vegan options and everything sounded so delicious. Eventually I picked a dish that was made out of little dishes. So it was perfect and it was also very tasty. I really enjoyed it. Together with a flatbread on the side, it cost me about £11, which I thought was a good price as well. I also really liked that it was a modern Indian restaurant. Often I find Indian restaurants a little dusty and dated, but there was a good vibe here.

Just before Nola and I got back to the van, the sun made everything look golden and so Nola and I enjoyed the last sun rays of the day on top of the hill. It was so lovely. Great end of the day. I decided to drive back to work that evening, because my battery only had one more stripe (I’ve got some electrical issues) and it didn’t make sense to only stay the night, drain the battery and then drive back. What a beautiful Easter weekend! I will definitely come back to Bristol.

HOTSPOT LIST:
Vx Junk food bar: 125 East St, BS3 4ER.
East Village: Boyce’s Ave, Clifton, BS8 4AA.
Smaller Footprints: 9 Regent St, BS8 4HW.
Brandon Hill/Cabot Tower: Park St, Bristol BS1 5RR.
Beets n Roots: 39 Cotham Hill, BS6 6JY.
Suspension Bridge: Bridge Rd, Leigh Woods, BS8 3PA.
Thali: 1 Regent St, BS8 4HW.

Have you ever been to Bristol or would you love to go now you read this? Please let me know about your experiences or if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments. You can also tag me in your pictures or use #planetmanel on instagram. Thank you! X

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