Birmingham was our first stop in the UK, thanks to being the cheapest direct flight from Rome, and our “recovery” city. After two months of super fun, but also super tiring, days on the old continent, Greg and I needed a little bit of recovery time, even more so because I was sporting a cold when we arrived to Birmingham.
While Birmingham is the United Kingdom’s second-largest city, it is very much a traditional working-class city, one of the world’s first manufacturing cities, and does not offer much in the way of tourists sites, or at least the type that Greg and I have sought out during our travels, and not to mention the fact it was a rainy few days in Birmingham, it was not hard for us to make the executive decision of maximizing our time catching up on some much needed rest in our hotel room.
In between sleeps however, we made our way out to wander the streets of Birmingham each day and explored the city centre, watched a local, rec-league rugby tournament in front of City Hall at Victoria Square and strolled through the famous Bull Ring shopping centre which made us feel like we were back in Canada as it had mostly the same stores you would expect to see back home. The exterior of the Bull Ring is quite futuristic and cool to see, which gave the mall its signature look. A few steps away from the Bull Ring is the market area, which happened to be my favorite, especially the food market, which made you feel like you were in a small town market back in the 1900s with the vendors shouting out their products and prices in order to catch your attention. Other places we visited were Birmingham’s Cathedral, Chinatown and the Jewelry Quarter with its numerous jewelry shops that offer not so discounted prices for those in need of new bling,
The best part of Birmingham was discovering my new favorite store in the UK – Poundland. As its name suggests, everything in this store costs one British Pound. And, unlike dollar stores back in Canada, EVERYTHING here is actually one British Pound, taxes included, and the stuff is pretty good. I know, pretty amazing, right! Greg and I visited this store a few times as I enjoyed getting lost in its aisles and adding things I did not really need but could use to my already full basket.
Birmingham served its purpose and got us rested, and me over my cold, for our next stop, Stratford-Upon-Avon; a cute little town an hour away that also happens to be the birthplace of the one and only William Shakespeare.