The Midland City of Birmingham

After Coventry, Birmingham is the largest city near to where I live and so this journal shows some of the great things there are to do in the city.

The Midland City of Birmingham

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Timone on October 25, 2002

Birmingham used to be a dirty, polluted busy city with a high crime rate but it has redeemed itself recently and is now one of the top cities in Europe. Some of those highlights include the restored canal basin and the walks and cafes next to the Grand Union Canal. Bill Clinton once visited here and apparently loved the beer! Broad Street, also next to the canal has some great pubs and bars and this is where the nightlife is in Birmingham city centre. Birmingham also has some superb centres for rock concerts, classic concerts and shows such as the Good Food Show, the Motor Show, the National Motorcycle Show etc. these are held at either the NEC near Birmingham International Station or NIA which is on Broad Street in the centre or at the Symphony Hall which is also on Broad Street. Whatever you want Birmingham has it to offer.${QuickSuggestions} As always with big cities watch out for pickpockets and dodgy individuals, be sensible and everything will be fine, Birmingham is now a safer place to be than ever before.${BestWay} Walking is a great idea, there is the canal, Broad Street and lots of well positioned subways to get you across busy intersections.

If it's dark and you're alone, take a cab; there is no point in taking unnecessary risks.

Trains run regularly into Birmingham from all directions, since the city really is in the centre of the country. There are several train stations, Birmingham New Street is the main one, with Birmingham Moore Street within walking distance. Brimingham Snowhill is slightly more out of the way and Birmingham Interntional takes you to the airport and NEC complex.

They is also a large bus station in an area called Digbeth which is within walking distance of the centre.

Hilton Birmingham Metropole

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Timone on December 30, 2002

I went to the Hilton Metropole for a dinner dance and had a great evening. The hotel is huge, with about 800 rooms that, while basic (they're not nearly as nice as the adjacent Crowne Plaza), do have everything you need. The food is wonderful and certainly makes up for the lackluster rooms. The hotel has a huge foyer area and bar and lots of function rooms; we were in one of the largest ones and had ample room to dance and eat. The meal was a set meal and limited in choice but it was hot and there was plenty of food. The breakfast the next morning was just as good and included in our room price--if it isn't included in yours, you might complain at paying £14. It's a large buffet breakfast with everything imaginable--fruit, cereal, juices, tea, coffee, cooked breakfast, breads, cold meats, cheeses, toast, etc. After a night of rather a lot of alcohol, this was just what I needed! It's a nice hotel and, as it's right next to the NEC complex, getting there is easy whether by car, train or bus.
Hilton Birmingham Metropole
National Exhibition Centre
Birmingham, England, B40 1PP
+44 (121) 780-4242

Crowne Plaza, Birmingham NEC

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Timone on December 2, 2002

This hotel is a superb place to stay. I booked over the phone with no idea what it would be like and arrived to discover it's rather posh looking and has a rating of 4 star deluxe. However, the price is not expensive, we paid £80 for a room which was a special weekend rate, and gave us a double room with all the facilities you could want. The reception staff were really helpful and it was great to leave the car in the hotel carpark instead of the NEC carpark.

Our room was huge and nicely decorated. There was a double bed, tv, sofabed, desk, chair, coffee table with free bottled water and chocolate, an iron and ironing board, trouser press, minibar and coffee/tea making facilites. The bathroom had an ample supply of towels and shampoo/body lotion/shower gel etc and was tastefully decorated in white and chrome, giving the feel of being very clean.

The hotel also has a Brian Turner restaurant which, sadly, was fully booked so we ate in Bar 606 instead which was very nice although a bit expensive. The hotel also had a pool, gym and sauna which we'd intended to use but after so much food and wine at the Good Food Show decided against.

This is a great hotel for long or short visits and backs onto the large lake at the NEC complete with all sorts of water birds. Birmingham Airport is nearby but you can't hear the planes from here. To get to the hotel you can drive; it's near the A45 and M42, or catch the train to Birmingham International Station from where the hotel is a short walk around the lake.

Crowne Plaza Nec
Pendigo Way Natl Exhib Ctr.
Birmingham, England
+44 (870) 400-9160

Hard Rock Cafe

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by Timone on October 25, 2002

I've been to many Hard Rock Cafes around the world but was bitterly disappointed with the this one. The dining area was small and in two sections, one tucked away around the corner, the other backing onto a huge, open floor area for the bar. I imagine they plan to have people in the bar for more than eating but it's sad as it means the restaurant loses it's cozy Hard Rock feel. The service was incredibly slow and I had booked a table, though that didn't seem to have made any difference.

The food thankfully was classic Hard Rock food and the Pig Sandwich I had was more than enough with its fries, coleslaw and bean salad. I did force down an icecream too since by the time I'd waited for it I'd digested half my meal anyway.

To add insult to injury, the merchandise area was by the door and tiny beyond belief, which meant scooting round the people queueing for tables. Then, they didn't have any circular pin badges - serves me right for being a sado that collects them I hear you say and to be honest I shall stop abruptly if they build anymore Hard Rocks in this terrible city / bar is more important format.

The food was great and the poor lad who was trying to serve far too many tables was positively embarassed at how long the kitchens were taking, but I won't be going back to this particular restaurant.

Hard Rock Cafe (Birmingham)
263 Broad Street
Birmingham, England, B1 2HF
+44 (121) 665-6562

The Good Food Show

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Timone on December 2, 2002

The Good Food Show is an annual event held at the NEC in Birmingham. It covers several halls and is packed full with stands for every type of food imaginable. You can taste samples at most stands and many such as Jacobs have freebies too. You can also purchase all of the products at the show for cheaper than in the shops. There are also stands selling kitchen equipment such as knifes, pans, food mixers etc.

There is also a huge wine and beer section. You can buy a wine glass for £2-50 though I'd recommend you take your own and save the money for something else. In the wine section you can wander up and down trying all the wines from around the world, plus beers, whiskies, gins, sherries etc. I'd also recommend doing half of the wine section in the morning and half in the afternoon or you'll be sloshed immensely quickly.

In addition to the food and drink on offer there are also cookery displays by world famous chefs such as Brian Turner, Anthony Worrell Thompson, Raymond Blanc etc. These are great fun to watch and you can buy a souvenir brochure which includes all the recipes the celebrity chefs do at the show for just £3-50.

The Good Food Show is a superb day out, you'll be worn out at the end of the day and probably a wee bit drunk so make sure you don't drive. Birmingham International Station is right next to the NEC and you can also take buses into Birmingham and Coventry. You could make a weekend of it and stay in one of the nearby hotels.

BBC Good Food Show
Broad Street (National Exhibition Centre)
Birmingham, England, B40 1NT
+44 (870) 902-0555

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