Birmingham is England’s second largest city, in terms of population and is positioned right in the heart of the country, or slightly to the left – in the West Midlands. To answer the question “Is second biggest second best?” your roving reporter visited a local hotel for an exclusive Q and A session with a real-life “Brummy”, which is the correct technical term for a human from Brum.
Q: Birmingham is famous for spaghetti junction. Is that it’s only contribution to world cuisine?
A: Because Birmingham is so central, it’s a major intersection between the M5, M6, M40 and M42 motorways – these spiralling roadways at the A38 specifically giving rise to the term “spaghetti junction”. This allows motorists to bypass the city, but I recommend taking detour and actually choosing Brum as your final destination – especially if discovering excellent cuisine is one of your objectives. A spicy fact, Indian food is world renowned here and the Balti was invented in Birmingham. Also, we have no less than three Michelin starred restaurants: Simpson's in Edgbaston; Turners in Harborne and Purnell's right in the city centre. This is second only to London, but we weren’t going to mention that!
Q: And for dessert?
A: Chocolate. One of our biggest attractions is Cadbury World, in Bournville. I’m not going to say that it’s an experience second only to Belgium!
Q: So spaghetti junction is about transportation, not lunch. But Michelin Stars are about lunch not cars? OK. Any other transport related highlights?
A: Canals! Venice is second to Birmingham in terms of canal mileage! Originally built to feed the industrial growth of Birmingham – including extensive automotive and transport industries – the network is now one of our main tourist attractions and adds a unique element to the city.
The British car industry was and still is a big part of Birmingham’s character – the Heritage Motor Centre Museum, near Coventry, is full of famous names from the past and present. For those who are interested in transport with half the number of wheels, the National Motorcycle Museum is in Solihull – just down the road from my family.
Q: The London 2012 Olympics is over. Is there anything for sports fans in Birmingham 2013?
A: Well that question is just not cricket! The answer though is cricket. The world famous Edgbaston Stadium will host England vs. Australia in a one day international in September. Were you going to say “Anyone for tennis?” Yes, also at Edgbaston every year there is a WTA grass court tournament - we get in before Wimbledon! Add to that the international sporting events taking place at the National Indoor Arena, and every year is packed with Olympic level competition.
Q: Any arts and music culture – second only to Broadway?
A: Broad Street. This is one of our many entertainment, leisure and business areas in Birmingham. It has its own Walk of Stars, the pavement paying tribute to notable locals making significant contributions to music, television, film, radio, theatre, sport, business and literacy. The Birmingham Hippodrome is considered the busiest theatre in the country, each summer it normally hosts a touring version of a major (London) West End show. Mentioning the NIA for the second time, the calendar is packed with first rate musicians and artists all year round and in 1998 hosted the Eurovision Song Contest – an event second to none! (Editor’s note: UK came second that year).
Q: Should I decide to stop in Birmingham, can I buy something to remind me of my visit?
A: The Bull Ring shopping centre is a combination of world class retail outlets as well as an amazing architectural masterpiece.
The Jewellery Quarter – which is Europe’s largest concentration of the trade’s businesses - will enable you to find that one-off item to make your trip to Birmingham a first class unique memory.
Q: I’m convinced! Can I stay with you and your family?
A: Well there are lots of hotels in Birmingham which are ideal for experiencing everything that Brum has to offer – so why not bring your own family?