36 hours in Bristol

Bristol we will be back!

36 hours was not enough. After leaving our house at 4am for our flight to Bristol we hit the ground running when we landed in Bristol going straight in to the city, stopping off for breakfast (in Pinkman’s Bakery) and then on to a museum before rocking up at 11am for a Street Art Walking Tour that I had booked on line. However, the most exciting thing was that we happened upon our very first Banksy in the wild literally as we walked along the road as we looked for somewhere to have breakfast. Just brilliant!

After the walking tour (it was excellent) we got to our hotel by 2pm and checked in. I had booked a superior suite so we had access to the executive suite where we had time for a relaxing drink before we got a taxi to the stunning Everyman Theatre for the Bristol Independent Film Festival where the Pigsy documentary was being screened. We saw some excellent films and when the festival finished we made our way to the very cool Quay St. Diner for dinner.

Then on Sunday we had a leisurely breakfast before making our way to the nearest bus stop to get out on an open top bus for a tour all over the city and even out to Brunel’s suspension bridge which we were very interested in seeing. After the bus tour we took a walk down the docks and visited the M Shed Museum which was very interesting and we got to see another Banksy - the one that he painted on the side of the Thekla boat. At this point we had enough walking so we went over to the little arthouse Watershed Cinema where we took in the Polish movie “Cold War”. After the film it was off to Spitfire for wings before we got on the bus back to the airport for our flight home to Ireland.

Phew we did so much!

All in all, we thought Bristol was a cool chilled out hip city and we look forward to returning again.

Here’s a few pics from the weekend.

Connemara: In the footsteps of Charles Lamb

After spending a weekend in Carraroe, I can see why the artist Charles Lamb spent his life there painting scenes of everyday folk working in Connemara.

I spent time by Loch an Mhuilinn (Mill Lake) which was stunningly beautiful and very peaceful. It was brilliant to be able to climb down to the lakeside, due to it being very low after a Summer of drought in Ireland, and listen to the waves lapping the shore.

Here's a few pics I captured over the weekend:

Loch an Mhuillinn

Pasta, more pasta and tiramisu - Eating out in Venice

On our first day after our 4 hour walking tour of Venice, we were completely drained and ate in the very first that we came to when we left our hotel after changing for dinner. The restaurant was the Bonvecchiati in the Hotel Bonevecchiati and it did the job very nicely.

On our second night we got a recommendation from our hotel and they made a reservation for us in the Ai Mercanti. After a little struggle to find the place (it was down a little hidden street) we had a an enjoyable meal with quite possibly the best plate of pasta that I have ever eaten. Pasta, oil, garlic, chilli & parmesan - so simple but so so good!


We had heard that it was expensive to eat out in Venice but did not find it to be so. There was lots of little sandwich bars where you could people watch and get an espresso for about a euro. There was also an option of ordering a pizza for less than 10 euro when eating out. I guess the best thing to do is check the cover charge before sitting down - one place down at the water was charging 6 euro cover and stay away from San Marco Square when eating!

Visiting Carlo Scarpa sites

For the past few days I was in Venice, Italy where I got to visit some modern architectural sites including 3 by architect Carlo Scarpa.  We were only visiting for three short days (Venice is only 2.5hrs from Ireland) but hit the ground running with an arrival in to Venice at 1.30pm and then a booked architectural tour starting at 2.30pm.

The three Scarpa sites we visited were the Olivetti Showroom, the Fondazione Querini Stampalia and Tolentini Entrance at the Venice University.

First was the Olivetti showroom which is in San Marco square. It's a small shop that was designed in 1958 to showcase Olivetti products (typewriters). It's a stunning interior with so many worked out details that it was hard to take it all in on our short visit. For me however, it was the feeling or experience of being in the store that was quite amazing. The sense of space is a remarkable achievement.

Scarpa was inspired by both Japanese architecture and also Frank Lloyd Wright and this can certainly be seen in this window and screen.

The Fondazione Querini Stampalia is a cultural institution that was founded in the 1860's with the ground floor and garden being redesigned by Carlo Scarpa in the 1960's. It's a really sympathetic redesign and once again there is a particularly serene feeling in the building - particularly with the open water gate that allows water right in to the building.

The final Carlo Scarpa site we visited was the Tolentini Entrance which was completed after Scarpa's death. It has a specific Scarpa look and is a fine piece of design. See below for two pics of the entranceway. The top pic is the right side and the bottom pic is the whole front.

While not a Scarpa building, we also visited the Casa di Risparmio which is now a bank. It was a highly controversial design as the outside is in complete modern contrast to all of the buildings in the surroundings. Here's a photo of the inside.

After our 4 hour architectural walking tour we got back to our hotel changed for dinner and then went out  and ate in literally the first restaurant we came upon!

We were guided in Venice by Francesca from http://www.movenice.com/en/ and would thoroughly recommend the tour.