Today was a weird experience.
I was wandering around the city I’m visiting taking in the sights.
Nothing new in that, it’s what I’ve done in virtually every place I’ve been to.
Some places I’ve been to so often (Berlin, Cologne, Edinburgh, Glasgow) that I know the city centre pretty well.
But Birmingham is different. All those other places I’ve been to as a tourist and found my way round the city as a tourist. Birmingham though, I already know.
I’ve been to Birmingham for meetings on so many occasions that I’ve lost track of the number times I’ve wandered along New Street going between the station and a hotel or the hotel and a meeting or a meeting and the station or any other variation on that theme. There’s been periods when I’ve spent more time in a month in the city centre of Birmingham than I have in the city centre of London.
So none of the streets were new, none of the shortcuts a discovery no sudden squares opening up in unlikely places to reveal a cathedral.
But I was amazed by how much more of the city I’ve seen today, actually taken in through wandering slowly through looking at the buildings and the streets.
Of course I’ve probably really annoyed quite a lot of Brummies by walking slowly down the middle of the main shopping street on the last weekend shopping day before Christmas.
The main thing that was obvious was the number of really nice Victorian and Edwardian buildings in the city centre. Yes there are a few pretty awful buildings, it’s kind of what the West Midlands are famous for these days, but, Birmingham is still a really attractive city, particularly around the Canals.
It makes me wonder what I’d discover if I went for a holiday in Croydon…