Posts Tagged ‘ United Kingdom ’

Birmingham: The Gateway to the West Midlands

Staying in Birmingham certainly has its perks – centrally located in the heart of England, there’s many places in its vicinity that are easily accessible when using this Midlands metropolis as a base. Click here for some fabulous hotel deals in the city and plan your itinerary to include central Birmingham activities as well as venturing further afield to see what else the West Midlands has on offer.

An exterior view of the new Library of Birmingham and its outdoor roof terrace garden at Centenary Square

Picture courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

When the sun is shining, it’s all the more reason to explore as much as possible and the sheer volume of attractions and things to do in and around Birmingham is quite impressive. Whether you’re visiting with family or it’s a strictly grown up affair, the possibilities are endless.

Castles are a great addition to any West Midlands break, with Warwick and Kenilworth Castles being within easy access of the city. Throughout the summer, there’s a full programme of events to keep youngsters busy while the heritage and history of these majestic fortifications is enough to enthral adults for an afternoon. With a season full of jousts and tournaments, a trip to Kenilworth Castle is well worth it for your fill of medieval thrills.

The Black Country Living Museum is less than half an hour away from the city, in the heart of Dudley town, and takes visitors back to the Industrial Revolution, in which the West Midlands were exceedingly important. Set over 26 acres, the museum will engross you in years of urban heritage that has been flawlessly rebuilt in this dedicated space.

Black Country Living Museum. pic courtesy of visitbirmingham.com

Museums are rife in and around Birmingham, perfect if you’re up for a day of culture and history. While young children may resent you a little for traipsing them around museums, if you’re travelling without kids, visiting museums can be a great way to while away the hours – particularly if the weather outside is a little drab. From the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, the Pen Museum and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in the city centre, to the fab Midland Air Museum and Coventry Transport Museum in, you guessed it, Coventry, there’s plenty to keep the inquisitive minds occupied.

If thrills are more your thing, Birmingham is just a short distance away from the awesome Alton Towers which will keep even the most mature of people screaming with delight. A brief hour on the road and you will arrive at this fantastic theme park, set in the middle of lush countryside. While Thorpe Park competes with the park to be the UK’s number one theme park for thrills, Alton Towers has it all. From fast-paced adrenaline rides including Rita, 13, Oblivion, Nemesis and Air to gentle strolls around the beautiful gardens, there’s something for everyone. Plus, grab an online deal or special offer and you can save plenty on entrance fees.

Alton Tower’s The Smiler. pic courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

If you choose to stay in the city of Birmingham, spend an evening at the Electric Cinema – the oldest working cinema in the UK and now showing an eclectic mix of art-house and mainstream films. Located on Station Street, in the heart of the city and just around the corner from the Bull Ring Shopping Centre, upcoming movie delights include Scarface, Blackfish and Otway the Movie.

Start planning your Birmingham trip, today. ;)

 

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8 Foods To Try When In London

London isn’t really popular for being a foodie’s paradise. My friends were aghast that I’m moving here – one of the most common reactions I got then was “food there is terrible!” – not! Although it’s true that it’s not as popular as Italy nor France for it’s food, UK (and specifically, London) is one not to be left behind. It is a melting pot of different culture and as such has a rich variety of food to choose from. One not to be left behind is the local British cuisine which I’m happy to say I got to taste (again) in my (first English) food tour with Eating London all the way to the East side (I’m from the other end. hehe)

Colourful and vibrant East London!

Colourful and vibrant East London!

**Doing a blog post about food is one of the few times wherein I wish I could be more poetic and flowery with my words in hopes that I might at least  be able to convey to you what it felt like for me. But alas! It’s not meant to be. So here I am trying in my simple words to share my beautiful experience. ;) **

We had around 8 stops and to prepare for it, breakfast was a foregone conclusion. hehe

1st stop: St. John Bread and Wine

Try their bacon sandwich with special ketchup. A very flavourful and hearty start of our day. I did think to myself that if this is any indicator, then it’s gonna be one awesome day!

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2nd stop: The English Restaurant

I’ve had pudding just a few times but every experience had definitely been good and the last always seem to top the one before it. The banana bread pudding here was no exception! I have a sweet tooth and the pudding per se already looked oh so tempting! Then they added that cream – with rhum in it!- and it was just delish! Typical English, drinking even in the morning. haha

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3rd stop: Androuet

Cheese! Lots and lots of them! Need I say more?

I’ve been to Spitalfields Old Market just once and this shop definitely caught my attention then. It looked so cozy and inviting! And the fact that their sign says that got well over 80 types of cheese, you just had to go in and check the place out!

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4th stop: Poppies

Fish and Chips. Some would argue that this is the country’s national dish and I kinda thought so too but that is not the case. It is one very English experience though. Munching on your white fish which is usually cod that is coated in batter and then deep fried, with chips (that’s fries for you non English speaking people) and mushy peas on the sides. Condiments may include malt vinegar, tartar sauce and some pepper.

There are TONS of fish’n’chips stores in London alone. One of the most popular has got to be Poppies, They’ve been around for quite a while. The restaurant’s ambiance is that of an old American diner which is pretty cool. I like that they even have their own newspaper to wrap those take aways in! :D
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5th stop: Pride of Spitalfields

Before (or do I say in the olden days? hehehe), people would gather in a “public” house after work to socialize and consume alcohol and/or spirits while having a meal hence the evolution of the word, pub. If I may say so myself, I’ve been to several pubs that serve good and affordable food so you may want to try it the next time you come to UK. In this part of the city, the unassuming exterior of this pub doesn’t do justice its interior. It was just so cozy in there!  It’s a bit off the beaten track which makes it one of the locale’s open secret. :D

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6th stop: Aladin

The country’s national dish is none other than…. chicken tikka masala! *gasp* Yes! Curry is THE dish to try in this part of the globe. With the huge Indian (and South Asian in general) population in the UK, their influence could be definitely felt in the food scene. I am not one to complain coz I love this dish! Yummy!

Where to go in a country that’s popular for curry? Why not follow the lead of HRH Prince Charles and head down to Brick Lane’s Aladin! We tried several dishes of curry ranging from mild to hot and the hot I found really hot – but that’s just me, you gotta try it yourself ;)

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7th stop: Beigel Bake

Walking around, you won’t miss Beigel Bake and their open 24 hours signage. Made me wonder why there was a need for the lock in the door when it’s never closed? hehehe Aside from their signage (it’s rare to see something open 24/7 here!), what you won’t fail to miss is the long queue that’s almost always here. So of course you’ll check out what the fuss is all about because all of those people can’t be lining up, waiting for just an okay food. I love the fact that the they’re selling really affordable, freshly baked food. Their best seller is the salt beef beigel with mustard. I am not a fun of mustard (although I love honey dijon mustard!) but the rest was so tasty! Mmm!

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8th (and last) stop: Pizza East

Around this time, I was already thinking to myself that I am soooo full and that it’s gonna be impossible to take another bit of food. But then I was told we’re gonna have dessert and I’m one to never (ever) say no to sweets! lol It’s unfortunate that you can’t really take pictures of the interior in this building. It had an industrial turned rustic-that-makes-it-look-homey kind of look. We has salted caramel chocolate tart. Those bits of salt brought out the flavours more because of the contrast. Mmmmm!!!! Perfect with a hot cup of tea!

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The map of goodies!

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Our ever bubbly guide, Nicole, and the silent Carlos. What a team! :D

Now that I’ve finished writing about that amazing morning experience, I can’t wait for my day off to go to Shoreditch and try them all out again! Mica!!! Thanks for inviting me to join you. You’re the best! *hugs* Thank you Nicole for being a fantastic guide! Your stories made it all the more memorable. Two thumbs up!!!

Tempting? Do check out their site for more info! :D

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Londres! Londra! London!
Not Your Typical Romantic City: London

Not Your Typical Romantic City: London!

When people think of romantic European cities, those in countries such as France and Italy immediately jump to mind! Even Belgium’s Brugge and Czech Republic’s Prague are popular choices too. I’ll have to say that London is IT for me! For real! :D

St. James Park

St. James Park

Being in a city as vibrant as London, you’re never at a loss for choices. From a chill date to one that would have you going from one end of the city to the other to having a romantic, activity-filled or a geeky date, I say, London can cater to it all! You just have to know what you want. :)

A wonderful day would include some of these:

Colourful Notting Hill

Colourful Notting Hill

Going to one of the city’s numerous markets, one of which is in Notting Hill’s Portobello Road. The colourful houses make for such a nice backdrop to an area teeming with stalls that sell everything from cheeses to olives to pheasants and freshly baked breads; to antiquities and oddities and clothes and loads more! I love food and starting the day with a happy tummy goes a long way to buoying up my mood. ;)

Seeing the panoramic view of London from Greenwich Observatory either at daytime or night time. They both have their own charm!

London skyline by day

London skyline by day

London skyline as seen from Greenwich

London skyline by night

Music could help set up a romantic atmosphere. Whether be it watching a musical – Mamma Mia and Wicked (The Phantom of the Opera as well as Les Mis are both amazing but not exactly the mood we’re going for after all!)- or by listening to one of the many street performers play instruments and/or sing.

Watching Mamma Mia

Watching Mamma Mia

Somehow, one thing that I truly enjoy doing in this city is walking along the River Thames at night. I’d suggest starting from St. Katherine’s docks (Tower Bridge Station) where you could have dinner with your special someone while enjoying the view of  the many  varied yachts parked there. No rush, there’s no need to hurry. When you’re ready… head towards the riverside, walk by the Tower Bridge then cross over to the South Bank of the river from here. There would be a pedestrian lane that you could follow once there plus it’s more picturesque. The walk would take you past Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern Museum which is just near it. From Tate, I would suggest to cross the Millennium Bridge back to the other side of the river, well, you do have the option to continue walking along the South Bank. I say that the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from the end of this bridge is just amazing and at night, the fact that there are hardly any tourist so you basically have the place for yourselves make it special.

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The pedestrian only Millennium Bridge by day

Millennium Bridge at night

Millennium Bridge at night

Most European cities are built around a river. It’s where life revolved around on. That’s why you’d see the most historical buildings and district along the riverbanks. One nice way of appreciating the city is to go on a river cruise. Having a romantic dinner while aboard one of those cruising boats sounds very inviting, isn’t it? :)

Beautiful Parliament Building and Big Ben

Beautiful Parliament Building and Big Ben

If you’re with somebody special, I don’t think what you two are doing nor where you both are would be such a big deal since being in each other’s company is all there is to it to be happy and content. Then again, exploring new places, trying out new things, and having memorable experiences together would make it all the more worth it romantic. :)

This is my entry to the February 2013 Carnival of Europe hosted by Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer with the theme “Most Romantic Places in Europe.”

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