27/05/2019

Exploring Birmingham & what the city has to offer


The city of Birmingham is about an hours drive from where I live in Leicestershire and I've been a few times before but it's always been a bit of a rush visit. This trip was little different. This time we went there to explore and delve in to find out what the city has to offer besides it's great shopping.

Our trips have always been for the day, mainly because we don't live that far away and the train links are great, making travel super easy, but there are lots of Hotels in Birmingham that are reasonably priced you might as well make a weekend of it! 



There are many hidden gems in the city, independent coffee shops, cafes but the hidden gem I loved the most were the waterways at the back of The Mailbox. If you don't know The Mailbox (the old Royal mail sorting office) is a leisure and retail area, although they are luxury retailers that are outside my price bracket that's for sure. We've been into The Mailbox before but just for a brief look around, you know, a bit of window shopping, but we've never really explored the other side. 


Go up the escalators and past Harvey Nics, keep walking and you come to lots of canal-side restaurants. They're fab and great to sit and watch the world go by but we carried on walking towards the canals and towpaths. I think a lot of visitors probably stick to the main street and shopping area of Birmingham which is what we've done in the past but there's a network of canals hidden away in the city.




The towpaths are lined with pubs, bars and restaurants, where modern buildings meet industrial. You can sit and admire the views, grab a drink, perhaps a bite to eat and people watch, something I could quite easily do all day! There are water buses too so you can get around easily, the trips are £1 per person per stop, so very in-expensive. 



We had a pit stop at the Gas Street Basin and sat in the sunshine at The Canal House, a pub inspired by James Brindley, an engineer involved in the work on the canal system. Set on two levels with the 'Engine room' on the ground floor and 'The Residency' upstairs. It's fab and I'd definitely visit again. 




We didn't even realise that it was Birmingham Pride on the day we chose to visit and the city was rammed so we were pleased we decided to head out to the canals, it was peaceful and quiet there. Don't get me wrong we loved the atmosphere, there was such a great vibe, but the bars and all the eateries were sooo busy. 


After refuelling we headed to Victoria Square. The rather impressive town hall is situated in the square and we knew The Knife Angel sculpture was also there and wanted to see it. The 27ft high artwork is made entirely of 100,000 knives that were collected as part of a weapons amnesty by police forces across the country. 


The Knife Angel 


Behind the Town Hall you'll find the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, right in the heart of the city and it's FREE so there's no excuse not to visit. The museum opened in 1885 and is in a Grade II listed building which is quite remarkable in itself. Set over several floors, there are over 40 galleries to explore with art, history and archeology. I'm not into art and paintings but I love history and all the artefacts, I could spend hours and hours in a museum! 



You can learn all about the history of Birmingham and it's people, there's an ancient Egypt gallery and you can find out more about the Staffordshire hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found!!



The museum also has a fabulous Edwardian tearoom which is worth a visit, sadly we ran out of time to sit and have anything, but that just means we'll have to come back for another visit! We just didn't have enough time in one day to get around properly, there's just so much to see, the museum's a real hidden treasure right in the city centre. If museums are your thing then there's also the Thinktank museum, an award winning science museum. It's not free but definitely on my list of places to visit. 

Birmingham is such a culturally diverse city and has so much to offer including several great theatre venues. We didn't do one bit of shopping on our visit, we were there purely to explore the places we'd not seen before but let's not forget Birmingham is also a great shopping destination. A city that has something for everyone!




Collaboration* - The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.



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