We had decided to stay in a hostel in the hope that we’d meet some interesting people, collect some unusual stories but instead we were met with a host of people glued to their laptop screens, communicating only through a series of grunts and nods. It seemed this should have been a place full of excitement for travelling and adventures but instead everyone was using technology to try to connect them to home instead of immersing themselves in being away. Then is occurred to me that perhaps they weren’t here for adventures or soaking up the soul of Bristol but perhaps they were here because they had to be.
We found out that 50 beds in the hostel were taken up by people actually living there. We met Orest from Poland who was desperately seeking work in Bristol and hadn’t managed to find any. We also met Smark (Ria has misheard his name when he introduced himself ‘it’s mark’). He lived for travelling and would work all the hours he could for a period of time before going off to search the world again. My immediate judgement was that he must be a bachelor but in fact he was married and his wife lived in Australia. I’d always thought that marriage would mean together, physically as well as mentally, sharing a home, living together. But here was a relationship that obviously worked, despite physical distance.
We finally set out from the hostel to explore Bristol, Ria focussing on the story underfoot, Kristy looking for the story in peoples eyes and me, like a wide eyed child looking into the sky. Bristol was covered in weather vanes and long lines of chimneys like a huge chess game on the roof. We meandered down the Bristol Estuary on the Bristol Ferry imagining living in one of the brightly coloured houses on the hill.
We had a fantastic afternoon in the sun with a wonderful couple, Misty and Drew who let us ride their beautiful tandem bicycle. They were such a fun, lively couple and I could imagine them chatting away riding around Bristol on Bramble. Here was a couple who liked to be as close as possible, even sharing a bike.
Bristol was quite a significant place for Ria, she had left home for the first time to come to Bristol. Despite not feeling quite at home in the youth hostel we felt very happy here as though we fitted. But it was time to leave so we said goodbye to Bristol and headed towards the bright lights of Newport.
Distance travelled: 31 miles