Because it does rain A LOT in this West Midlands city, I have written these two articles to give you some ideas about what to do on a visit, if the heavens do open up on you! The first part showed activities in Birmingham that are fine come rain or shine, like the Bullring and The Cube!
Set in my favourite little corner of the canals in Birmingham, opposite the Barclaycard Arena entertainment and concert venue, and right behind the main 'party street' (Broad Street), the aquarium in Birmingham, properly called The National SEA LIFE Centre, is one of my favourite places to spend time in Birmingham. The sweeping design reminds me of a manta ray, and the bright colours and central location make it ideal for a rainy day.
The aquarium has a really fun and lighthearted design theme in the first areas, with mock rain-forest paths and colourful walls. The 200 animals that are exhibited here follow a really natural and obvious progression, with shallow water creatures making way for deeper and larger animals until you reach the dark UV lit corridors of the real deep dwellers!
The indoor market, and the connected food markets outside (but under cover) both make a fun, energetic and different day out in Birmingham. It's generally a very tidy, controlled and modern city, but these markets are hectic, a bit crazy and definitively quite weird at time - which I think is amazing!
Although it's something of a dying art in the UK, with smaller market towns growing and modernising, the English market is one of my favourite things in the UK. I think I'm a sucker for a market of any kind, but I really love the sense of community, the shared experience, and the connection with the vendors. It makes such a big change from buying things from multi-national corporations online!
The outdoor section of the market is, for the most part, under cover, and here you will find butchers shouting meat prices, florists yelling about their rose prices and you can wander the isles and see every kind of vegetable and fruit and sweets and snacks. This can also be the best place to find the more exotic fruits and vegetables that are hard to find in the supermarkets. Birmingham is an incredibly multi-cultural place, so you can find anything and everything here! The indoor section of the market is a mix of clothes and fabric and good, with the fish and meat market.
Set in the centre of the city, in the most pretty square (Chamberlain Square), the Birmingham Museum is a really calm, relaxed way to spend half a day, not to mention that the exhibits are surprisingly interesting and good! The powerful stone building was built in 1829, and is free to go in (a few temporary exhibits sometimes have a small entrance fee). Although art of almost every kind is represented here, I particularly like the exhibits that show the history, development and potential future of Birmingham. It really is a city that has changed continually and without pause, and so understanding the different stages of the life of this commercial and cultural powerhouse in the UK is vital for feeling connected to the city!
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