Churches, Cathedrals, and neat Indiana Jones style tombs.

Why, I’m talking about Bristol of course! Oh, that’s not what the city is famous for? My mistake. I will say however that when visiting Bristol there were two places that really interested me, the large Bristol Cathedral and a smaller church not far from the train station who’s name was St Mary Redcliffe. You see, the city of Bristol is largely a newish industrial/commercial city, once renown for its port, and I can get industrial/commercial at home. No, what truly interests me and what I inevitably end up searching out are things new or unique, historic perhaps seeing as Canada, and Calgary especially, hasn’t a tenth the background or history of almost anywhere in the UK. So it’s understandable that for my day spent wandering Bristol, much if not the majority of that time was spent wandering these two buildings.

St Mary Redcliffe (I hope I spelled that right!) is a decent sized church that like I said earlier is fairly near the train station. What’s remarkable about the building isn’t really its size or majesty, although it has both, so much as the sheer amount of ‘neat’ things all crammed together in there. When entering the church I was lucky enough to be assaulted by a guide, the type that sit around all day and generally hand out pamphlets to tourists like myself, except that either it was a verrrryyyy slow day or the guide was simply extremely enthusiastic. Kindly older man, thinning hair, thick glasses perched on his nose, brown woolen vest if my memory serves me right. Exactly what you’d expect really, amazingly so. He was more than happy to tell the stories of this church as we walked along the pews, pointing out the tombs of ancient knights and naval commanders. During this another man was sitting at the Organ practicing so I got to listen the deep dramatic tones of this impressive musical machine (Which the guide happily pointed out was also fairly famous itself!) even as we sauntered along, walls decorated with various memorials and the floor covered and ancient tombs. The music adding that extra bit of ambiance which along with the eager guide and abundance of corners crammed full of interesting tidbits made for an extremely memorable experience.

I’m not a religious person, in truth I generally consider myself an Agnostic sorta guy. I’ll worry about religion when I’m dead, presuming the Atheists ain’t right and I’m lucky enough I get a chance to worry about religion. But what I CAN truly appreciate is the effort and work, the majestic glory of the things some people have done in the name of their faith, and in this case I really enjoyed and was impressed by the general ambiance and mood set by this church. I’d later go on to see what are considered some of the grandest church and cathedrals in the world, and yet the experience in this one place is still one of my favourites.

In Bristol I’d eventually head out and see the Cathedral, which was undoubtedly bigger and grander than the church if not quite as memorable an experience seeing as it’s much more busy and as such much more… well, organized than the other place I visited. Lacking that abundance of historical, if small, notes of interest! Still quite interesting though, don’t get me wrong. Then later I’d walk the city streets of Bristol (One thing that amazed me was a case where a once private family grave had been set aside for use as a park after a good chunk of it had been paved over for a new road. The tombstones were all stored in a small gated-off cave on the borders of this park and forgotten. Yay progress, right?) and along its famous port. All in all it was a nice place, not the most impressive or the most beautiful, but certainly a good experience.

But as implied by the title, it’s the Church and Cathedral most stand out. Seeing the tombs of men who’d died in times ancient, carved with images of knights and chivalry, and having that eager guide explaining the importance of this tomb and that memorial all while the organ played in the background and the rain pounded on the windows outside… It’s the memory which most stands out from my visit to that city and which I write about now.  It’s experience like that which renew my wonder in the past and my love of adventure, and I can only hope someday you too will experience something similar.

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