Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Birmingham: day 1

Dear reader,

I thought it might be fun to try to make a date day to day blog sequence of my trip to Birmingham for those of you who would like to know how I am holding up haha.

Well in the morning I was really nervous when going to the airport, but then one of the street musicians came (unwittingly) to my rescue. A Jamaican street artist stepped into the subway with a guitar and a harmonica. The first song that he played was: Can you feel the love tonight by Elton John… :P Disney always makes me feel better. This was followed by Let it be by the Beatles, a song that sounded familiar, but I have no idea what it was called and finally closed off by ‘and the saints come marching in’. So by the time I had to get off the subway and into the train, I was all cheered up, because the guy was really good haha.

When my dad and I arrived at the airport my fiance was waiting for us. We went to the departures hall and I checked in using the check-in machines that they now have (which was quite an adventure). I also had to check in my luggage using the baggage drop off machines… Now I really do not think this is an improvement, because a lot of people seem to be lost (I am not sure why, because it really is quite simple and they show an instruction video on what you need to do, but ok), causing there to be a huge line. Afterwards I said goodbye to dad and my fiance and went through boarder control. I walked around on the airport a bit after which I went through customs and boarded the plane. I was really really happy that there weren’t any delays, because I honestly would not have known what to do with that much time on my hands.

Eventually I arrived at Birmingham airport with a five minute delay…. And again I had to go through customs… O.o The cue that they had there was just absurd! I stood in line for about 45 minutes before I finally made it to the baggage retrieval hall. After retrieving my luggage and having called everyone to let them know that I had arrived in Birmingham save and sound I made towards the station as I needed to take the train. Now the connection between the airport and the train station is really really cool! They have made a shuttle service that is very similar to a miniature monorail. It transports you to the train station in about 1,5 minutes.  At the station (which was really not crowded at all… it was almost scary) I bought a ticket and boarded a train that took me to Birmingham New Street Station in what felt like 10-15 minutes. After getting off the train I went to look for the hotel: I took a right turn and walked straight… and lo and behold there it was; The Birmingham City Holliday Inn. It is literally a 5 minute walk from the train station.

The hotel room was pretty pricey, but I am sure getting value for my money. I have a two person bedroom all to myself! :P It even has a bath (not like I am up for taking a bath right now, but fair enough ahaha).
I can even chose how I want my pillow :D!!!!
The label on the right pillow says: firm and on the left says soft.

After having settled in I decided to go and look for the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. I took the printout from google maps and decided to walk… I found myself in a neighbourhood that I really did not want to be in (5-6 minutes from the hotel lol) so I turned around and went back. There I saw a sign pointing the way to the museum, so I followed it. This too did not seem like the right way, so I turned around and walked back. Behind the sign I had followed (which was only visible from my new point of view) it directed me to again a different direction. I looked at the way in which the sign was pointing and decided to just return to the hotel, rest a bit (cause I had done quite a bit of walking by now hahha) and to just go to the mall opposite the train station instead; hoping to find a restaurant there.

Well when I walked into the mall I immediately spotted this store:

Really, what are the odds? Hahaha :D Well that sure as hell cheered me up! I did a lot of window shopping and I bought a present for  my fiance and set out to look for a restaurant. Well clearly the Birmingham people are not for dining out, because the only places where you could sit down to eat something (and I mean ANYTHING) were a Pret a Mange, Starbucks (or some other take on that concept, such as a “home made” pie variant O.o???) and Burger King and MacDonalds. I decided to dine at the hotel restaurant instead. There I ate on overpriced sirloin steak with soft green pepper corn sauce (which was not very green nor peppery XD) and a gruesome patato salad. :P Yep: I might as well have dined at Burger King hahaha. Oh well better luck next time ;).

So much for my first day here. :D I am looking forward to tomorrow. I really hope that the conference will turn out to be really interesting. Stay tuned :D.