Thursday, 13 July 2017

Follow Me To: Bristol Zoo After Hours

Hey Owlets!!

I'm coming to you with my best flamingo impression today (I really hope you appreciate that photo - I nearly fell over several times). A few weeks ago I was invited to Bristol Zoo to check out their new Twilight Evenings and to try their new restaurant. If you've been reading The Owlet for a while, then you'll know that I jump at any opportunity to get to act like a child for a little bit longer, so I probably don't have to tell you how excited I was about this.

When we got to the zoo we were taken for a tour of the the animal enclosures, starting with the penguins and seals. This is a fur seal- they're called this because they have two layers of fur unlike other seals. They also have a serious set of lungs on them - I know this because this seal decided that he really didn't like the tour guide's talk and proceeded to swim around screeching every time the poor man spoke. I didn't laugh... too much.

We were then led towards the Monkey Enclosures where we saw some of the most photogenic apes I've ever seen.  I think he knew he was pretty and sat here to prove it. He was definitely ready for his close up.

Within the monkey area, my favourites were of course the ring tailed lemurs - they're just so cute and I love watching them swing on the branches. Although I think the lemur was thinking the same thing as me with his tongue hanging out - food time.

We went for dinner in The Hide. The zoo have recently opened a new restaurant to replace the old system of queuing up to get food from the kiosks. I was chatting to the catering manager, who seemed a little nervous that his restaurant was being judged by a load of bloggers, and he was saying that they've introduced this table service restaurant because a lot of parents complained that it was difficult to look after the kids and get food. 

His idea was that this was a lot more relaxing. He did say he'd had complaints that some people thought it was a bit too posh for the zoo but I didn't think so at all; there were tables with bench seats and an area that children could play in the restaurant so it felt really chilled out. It was lovely and cosy and I enjoyed watching the world go by over dinner through the huge floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the gardens.

We were served tortilla chips with homemade salsa, honey glazed sausages and Margherita pizza. I was actually really impressed with the menu - there were a lot of different things to choose from and a lot of different cultures. I'm usually the awkward one that has nothing to eat when we go out for dinner but in here there was a massive range of vegetarian and vegan food, and all the pizzas are available gluten free.

I was looking at the prices, and yes it's more expensive but I don't think it's over the top. I think you tend to expect to pay more when buying food at an attraction, so I thought this was very reasonable. The tortilla chips and sausages were £4 each and the pizza was £6.95 so for the two of us it would've been £15 plus drinks. I would compare the restaurant to something like Zizzi, and I think it works really well.

After dinner we were left to explore the zoo further. In the evenings the zoo is open 6pm-10pm and costs £5. Considering when Dad and I go we spend an entire day there, I did go in thinking "We won't get to see everything" but we did and I still made the 10pm train home. The normal ticket price is £17 for an adult and sometimes being there for a whole day is hard work. I think I'd actually prefer to go down for the evening, have dinner in The Hide and have more of a steady wander around the park. It's so much easier and more relaxing without having to weave through the frazzled parents and screaming children. It was much more of an adult atmosphere, and it was lovely walking past and listening to the guitarist on stage - I really hope they make more of that over the summer because I felt like he needed someone to accompany him. 

The only thing that I found frustrating is that all of the walkthroughs had the daytime opening hours on and nothing else, so you had to go up and try the door to see if you could go in or not. I know this is only going to be happening 5 times but a laminated piece of paper saying whether or not it's open in the evening would've been really helpful. We originally saw the sign for the flamingos and were gutted that the walkthrough was closed, then we saw other people go in so followed them but when we tried other enclosures they were locked.

I felt like the lack of signage was a bit of an all round issue. We actually missed the bus back to the train station because we got lost in the park and didn't know how to get back out. There were signs to some places and not others which got a bit confusing - we randomly stumbled across these strange rabbit/deer hybrid things but it didn't say what they were, and if you look on the website it's like they don't exist. Whatever they are though, they're cute.

I'm so sad that this is only going on 5 times over summer. It's such a different way of experiencing the zoo and it's lovely walking round on a sunny evening. If you wanted a family trip out or maybe a date night, then I think this would be perfect. The next Friday Twilight is tomorrow (14th July) followed by 4th August, 18th August and 1st September and I fully intend to go back for at least one of these evenings.

Running along the lines of the zoo theme, what's your favourite animal? Let me know in the comments below!

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

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