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February 1st 2008
Published: February 1st 2008
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Hi again,

We've come back to a really automnal weather - makes me think of Birmingham, dunno why...
I spend nine whole months in Birmingham, England - Quite liked it, apart from the fact that I was loads of miles away from my man - who wants to travel must sacrifice!
When you think first of Birmingham, you think coal, dirt and industry, don't you? I must say that I was quite astonished by the city! It is no more an industrial city (at least not in the city center), rather a commercial city.

The biggest attraction there: the Bullring, one of the biggest Shopping malls in England (and perhaps in Europe, I should check).
There are about 1000 shops in a 20 minutes walk perimeter.

Apart from this hole in the middle of the city, there are a few cultural places, like the Birmingham Museum, a huge museum with all kind of items and FREE! Some concert halls, a huge aquarium, and other little gallerys and specialised museums.

In fact, the city is the second one in England, after London of course, but does not seem so at all! Birmingham is kind of organized by districts, so that you never feel overwhelmed by the traffic or the space. Quite agreeable to stroll around the long canals, going through the city and to the suburbs.

There is also an authentic market place, right behind the Bullring - kind of an opposition, really - where you can find all kind of things, from English traditional food to exotic fruit - don't forget that Birmingham is particularly known for its international and multicultural side. And the market is cheap, contrarily to the same type in France!

All in all, I would say that you can live for cheap in this city - not the same prices as in London, loads of little shops like Aldi (it's quite nice for a native german to find german stuff in the middle of the UK! like stollen during christmas time) and the market thrice a week where you can get your fruit and vegetable.

Another nice thing in Birmingham, which is probably true in the rest of the UK: a nice and clean transport system (quite cheap as well, compared to Paris). You have the choice, when you live like me in the suburbs, between the huge British buses (Deckbus, no idea how you say that in English) or the train - with TV inside - you would never imagine that in France! The TV would probably be tagged or stolen within two days!

Anyway, that was a little sight of Birmingham - absolutely not exhaustive, I've not even mentioned the University (after all, I was there one year to study!)...
Next time I'll talk perhaps of the Midlands: another advantage of Birmingham is its centrality - no less than three railway stations in the city center, going to little towns not far from Birmingham, to Liverpool and Scotland, to Wales or to London - I've not done many excursions, but the ones I did are worth mentioning - see you next time


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