Birmingham was the third city I chose to stay in. I hadn’t really heard of anything noteworthy in Birmingham, just that it was reasonably large. But since I wanted to stop somewhere in between Manchester and Bath, Birmingham was quite a logical place to book my third hostel. I stayed at the Hatters Hostel, which is the same organization I stayed at in Manchester. I was in Birmingham for three nights, which actually turned out to be quite long.
I think I might have missed the best parts of Birmingham. The city did not really stand out for me. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself, because I did, but it was quite a let-down after Manchester. However, I still made the most of it, I think. One of the few things I really enjoyed was the Museum & Art Gallery. They’ve got a huge part entirely dedicated to the history of Birmingham and I found that very interesting. I spent a good while at that part of the Gallery and would definitely recommend visiting the Gallery. The square on which the Gallery is located, is also very pretty.
I think the whole city centre of Birmingham is quite pleasant, but it’s also very much aimed at shopping. Since I already shopped a bit in Manchester and shopping wasn’t what I was here for, I didn’t really care about the mall and the various shops. Not that the mall isn’t impressive, though. The Bullring is absolutely huge, I reckon it would be a shopping Valhalla is that what you came for.
I spent one day walking around Birmingham and when I came back to the hostel, I booked a train to Stratford-upon-Avon for the next day, since I didn’t think I’d want to spend another full day walking around in Birmingham. A room mate later told me about some parts of Birmingham she’d been that were more .. hipster? ish? and I think I missed out on that. I also can’t remember what she said the area was called, so I can’t look it up for you.
I did find lots of owls in the city. I found out that they belong to the Big Hoot Project. There’s a lot of these owl statues scattered around the city, all with different prints on them. It’s sort of a challenge to find them all (I saw one on the roof of a hotel when I came back by train from Stratford-upon-Avon), but it would be fun if you could catch them all. At the end of their time, the owls are auctioned off and the profit goes to a children’s hospital.
As I said, my second day staying in Birmingham, I spent in Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s the birthplace of Shakespeare and I was curious to visit the city. I can tell you right now that it’s very touristy, but that it’s alright still. I didn’t feel like paying extra to visit the houses Shakespeare and his family used to live in, so I stuck to taking pictures of the outside. It was a lovely day, so I was fine with just buying a walking tour of the city and taking pictures of the sights.
Even when you don’t visit inside the houses, there’s still a lot to see. The city does feel quaint and old at certain points, especially when looking at the old houses. Another recommended place to visit is the church. Entrance is free, but they do ask a very small (obligatory) donation to see the sight of Shakespeare’s grave. It’s impressive and I think it’s something you really should pay a visit when you’re in Stratford-upon-Avon.
I was extremely lucky with the weather, so my dinner consisted of fish and chips eaten while sitting down in the grass. It was lovely, even if I had no one to share it with. I think I would have enjoyed Stratford-upon-Avon better if I went there with somebody, but I didn’t really bond enough with my roommates in Birmingham to ask one of them to come with me. I will probably write an entire blogpost on my experience with travelling alone and staying in hostels, so stay tuned for that.
With this Doctor Whoot owl (HAH!), I say goodbye to Birmingham. I don’t think I’ll feel the need to visit the city again, even though I might have missed some really good places. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy my time in Birmingham, but I definitely enjoyed my stay in the other cities better. Anyhow, my next post will be about my time in Bath, the second to last stop on my trip, so look forward to that.