FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Becoming a Brummie for a Week

by Aoife O’Riordan

Jul 26, 2023

Last month I visited my best friend currently living in Birmingham, England. I stayed with her in the heart of the city and officially became a “Brummie” for the week.

Did you know that Birmingham is the origin of the Industrial Revolution? The city is the second-largest in the United Kingdom, and with towering buildings, busy streets lined with shops and a canal running through its center, the city buzzes with life day and night. Tying into its Industrial Revolution roots, the city features a section of preserved 18th– and 19th-century working-class houses. These houses are open for guided tours, showcasing what life was like at the peak of the Industrial Revolution in the city where it all began.

Fans of the hit series Peaky Blinders can find a series of murals near Birmingham New Street Station depicting the different characters. My favorite mural shows the gang together and looking as if they’re walking toward you in an intimidating way.

I did a lot during my time in the city. In the morning I went for a run to explore the streets before the rest of the city woke up, ending my run with a coffee at Black Sheep Coffee.

Birmingham doesn’t sit on any major river, but a lengthy canal weaves through a section of the city. Here you’ll find narrow sidewalks lined with restaurants and trendy pubs and bars. You’ll even see the occasional narrow boat slide by filled with passengers. At night, the canal is lit up with twinkling lights from lively restaurants and pubs. One night we dined at a trendy Mexican eatery called Perios Brindleyplace before hopping around different pubs like Slug & Lettuce and popular pub chain All Bar One. Another day we walked around the city and visited St. Philip’s Cathedral and the Library of Birmingham. We ventured to the top of the quirky-looking library and enjoyed views of the city as well as access to a cool and intimate Shakespearean library.

Of course, we couldn’t skip on the shopping, with trips to Zara, Waterstones (a popular bookstore chain) and more. On another night, my friend and her partner brought me to a few pubs to meet up with her partner’s co-workers, and we ended up spending many hours at some very fun pubs across the city. Some of the pubs we enjoyed a few pints at included The Trocadero, a former gin palace and fire station. Everyone we went out with was so nice, and we all came from different parts of the world, so it was fun to learn about everyone’s backgrounds and favorite things about Birmingham.

Birmingham is a great hub for travelers wanting to explore much of England, as it’s centrally located and offers easy access to many other big cities. For instance, my train to Manchester was only two hours, and the train to London was slightly less than two hours. Similarly, getting a rental car or knowing someone with a car, you can find yourself in the Cotswolds in less than an hour.

— Aoife O’Riordan, associate editor

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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