19 October 2013

Birmingham: More Canals Than Venice?

Birmingham has meant a lot of studying for me recently, so I wanted to be productive and get some work done in order for me to enjoy the city for an afternoon. I took advantage of the weather because its been pretty dismal these last few weeks, well it just makes things difficult to do anything especially when I'm so stressed with university at the moment. 

Rumour has it that Birmingham has more canals than Venice! Would you believe that crazy fact? I said goodbye to The Maltings as I had finished all my coursework for the day and set off in-pursuit of some culture. Birmingham is a great city in my eyes, its modern yet full of history and with its compact layout I can get around the main parts without any problems. Back to the canals, captured to the left is the Mailbox complex that sits overlooking the central canal basin in Birmingham's Westside. With some nice weather finally making a rare but ever so short appearance I snapped away like a paparazzo it was just nice to be out and about rather than going back and forth to university. Right now I miss my fresher year of mayhem! The Mailbox itself looks so much better with a bit of blue sky around it, there's just something that this entertainment complex brings to Birmingham's Westside. Yes Brum! 

I reckon the key to The Mailbox's pulling power is the Harvey Nichols department store, now that does the trick! Even though my student loan is dwindling I still want to eat at Rodizo Rico, a Brazilian barbecue restaurant that has recently opened in The Cube that sits next to The Mailbox. I will make it my mission to get some tasty Brazilian food back in my life because Newark's Ironbound seems like a distant memory right now! Talking of progress I suppose time is a healer? I know that I actually paid more attention to The Cube today, noticing that more restaurants are being constructed to make their home amongst the Gym and Spa, Hotel Indigo and the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse. I look forward to these new places opening as The Cube has had a bumpy ride. Time is passing by within the respect of my university degree course in Birmingham so I'm taking every second seriously, I really don't want to miss a beat! Just take a deep breath because its all going to be fine! 

So back to that Venice theory, I saw on ITV Central News that this West Midland city was rivaled to the luxurious Venetian city due to having more stretches of canals than our Italian counterpart. I have not yet been to Venice but have seen it on numerous travel television shows but Birmingham stays close to me because its my university city! It was lovely to make the most of the bright blue skies and walk towards Broad Street, the burst of sunshine was a hit with the locals and tourists alike as I heard many a folk talking in different languages, we're very cosmopolitan here in Birmingham! Those canal boats are really charming, they were just sitting in the water that overlooked the Hyatt Regency hotel now if that's not a world class city standing in front of me then I don't know what Birmingham stands to be?! We serve up urban realness here in Birmingham! There's no other place I would rather be!

Canals came to Birmingham during the Industrial Revolution, acting as the urban waterways that connected the world to our fabulous West Midland region. It's clear to see that investment has beautified out urban waterways to allow them to shine, creating sophisticated spaces for the city folk to wine and dine. We don't need that Venetian show for in Birmingham we only serve the realest state of mind! Reminiscing back to my fresher days makes me think that my year away in America shaped my blogging ways, I didn't think to have days out within Birmingham because it was all about hitting Broad Street till the small hours of the morning. I probably sound like a broken record but as my studies have been turned up several notches I have learnt to seek the realness out in Birmingham when the need finds me. Enough of that chat I need to hit the books and cut the booze, no chance! Venice can gag, Italy keep your classy city because Birmingham has more canals than you do! 

After powering past the canals and Broad street I made my way through Centenary Square to be greeted by Birmingham's Town Hall, even though its a sight I have seen many times over the last three years I feel like today I saw it through new eyes and appreciated my surroundings that little bit more. Dodging the Great British weather is a skill, I made it for the nearest point of interest! Considering that I was stood amongst Birmingham's people traffic upon that Saturday afternoon I didn't really care, I had just packed my camera and took my keys with me so I was not bothered with shopping I just wanted to take the sights in once again. I wanted everybody gone, just wanted Birmingham for my own! Let the sight be the see! Just serve B! 

This corner of Birmingham is within a stone's throw from Birmingham's main council buildings so there's occasionally a protest of some sorts going on. I people dressed as animals, they must have been protesting as part of a animal cruelty charity but their costumes didn't match up to the standard of Mickey Mouse and his friends. I haven't been to the Council House because its for official events, I'm going to need to blog like I've never blogged before! During the months of November and December the area around Victoria Square and the Town Hall is alight with the Frankfurt Christmas Market, an event that I shall be attending this year for sure! I tell you its no jar of honey when she gets busy, Birmingham draws a crowd! I wanted to see the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery! Like now!

I loved the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery! In all my student years here in Birmingham I had never thought to have paid a visit here, it was free admission so for a poor student it was a winning choice! Captured to the right is the 'Modern British Art' section, which I really loved the simplicity of this exhibit it was just nice. I'm not one to focus my attention on something for a long time so I made my way around the art gallery pretty quickly but made sure I took in the beautiful and thought-provoking art work and exhibits that were on display. I encountered exhibits of Ancient Greek artifacts that have certainly stood against the test of time. For the next exhibit would definitely impress me much! I walked down the stairs from the worldwide art section to a whole section dedicated to the history of Birmingham, now I was loving what I was seeing! Give a shout out to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery!

From the Medieval stands that informed me about Birmingham's beginnings as an average market town to a thriving industrial powerhouse I was astounded! The World War II section topped off my whole visit to a new high, there was a display about Women's fashion throughout World War II in Birmingham that depicted a rather extraordinary dress made out of different types of material, it looked very hip! Free admission is how I roll, appreciate the visual offerings that Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery serves to all of us who decide to visit. People underestimate Birmingham as an artsy city but when you take a closer look its easy to see that this city has class. It's true to say that Birmingham showed me something new and something free that I can look back on and say that I loved! Don't be a fool, just take some time out of your seemingly busy schedule to appreciate Birmingham for what she truly is! Remember Birmingham has more canals than Venice, Italy! Figure that one out!

Hold that Gelato! I'll have a Chicken Balti! 

Joseph Harrison

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