Transplanted Kiwi Anna-Louise Taylor finds 'something very Wellington' in the cool capital of Britain's south-west
When I moved to Bristol two years ago from London, I had only fleetingly visited the city on a work night out once before.
But, like all those travellers before me who end up in England's laid-back south-west, I found there was a magic to the place.
It is a city full of seafaring tales, tall ships, gritty subcultures and graffiti art, amazing music and food scenes. Here you will find the affluent and the revolutionary living side by side, beautiful Georgian buildings and hillsides dotted with a kaleidoscope of colourful terraced houses.
Stepping off the train at Temple Meads Station, it's worth heading straight underneath a railway arch to Hart's Bakery.
A local secret, Laura Hart produces delectable bread, cakes and pastries — including, as one friend of mine claimed "the best sausage roll I have ever eaten", which will fuel a long and lovely walk around the city.
I often think there's something very Wellington about Bristol. There are so many great cafes, restaurants and bars in Bristol it's incredibly hard to pick favourites. At award-winning local restaurant Flinty Red, I like something completely different, local, and delicious — nettle pasta.
When I miss New Zealand, I love a long walk around the harbour, taking in old grain stores and beautiful boats and stunning vistas.
But I never tire of seeing the tall masts of the SS Great Britain, the first screw-propelled, ocean-going, iron-hulled steam ship, which revolutionised passenger transport and shipping when she was launched in 1843. The ship was designed by the heavy hitter of 19th-century engineering, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and a visit allows you spectacular views under, above and inside.
Brunel's stamp on the city is even more evident when taking a quick ferry across the harbour, and traversing the hillside up to luxurious Clifton Village, to see the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
After taking in its vertigo-inducing heights over the Avon Gorge, I love a stroll through Clifton's leafy streets, breathing in the buildings' Georgian glamour.
There's always a cluster of tourists at the bottom of Park St taking photos of a well-known Banksy.
The famous British graffiti artist still has various preserved pieces here, but Bristol's buildings are rich in works by others as well, like Inkie, Paris, Cheo, Mr Jago and Xenz. Festivals like See No Evil and Upfest celebrate this urban art each year, targeting buildings in the centre and smaller suburbs.
If you want to splash the cash, Gloucester Rd is where it's at for beautiful clothes boutiques, great wine and beer, fancy flowers and coffee shops. Hailed as Britain's longest independent high street, it is a paradise for those seeking something a bit different.
There is no end to the fun hunting down Bristol's amazing cocktail bars, hidden behind closed doors. The Milk Thistle and Hyde & Co have earned reputations as speakeasy-style havens. It's always a gamble to see if they are full or not, but that's part of the fun.
The Red Light bar is the latest — a bar with an entry camouflaged by graffiti and a speakerphone.
The music scene in Bristol is alive with reggae, dub, roots, ska, hip-hop, funk, drum and bass, dubstep, breaks, house, rave and garage as well as rock and indie, and the city has a plethora of great venues.
I often head to Bristol's self-proclaimed cultural quarter Stokes Croft, where locals rioted to try to prevent a Tesco supermarket opening. It now has its own People's Republic. Here I often have the fortune of catching Bristol's young DJs and MCs in one of the clubs or bars along this vibrant stretch of road.
And if not, there's always time to stop in the Stokes Croft China shop and pick up a fantastic souvenir.
Subversive slogan teapot anyone? Don't mind if I do.
flies daily from Auckland to London. Train services to Bristol take about three hours.