Saturday, July 8, 2017

Back to England - Birmingham

Our hotel in Birmingham was an apartment that the kids loved and it had a very windy balcony on the 12th floor!  Our plan was to explore Birmingham on our half day after traveling but our train drama set us back so we had a limited amount of time.  We were able to walk from our hotel through a nice shopping and restaurant area that was cut through with canals.

Birmingham boasts more miles of canal than Venice but we didn't see any gondolas.  Instead they have flat bottomed barge boats that are able to go pretty much anywhere because of the water access.

Birmingham is city that grew up out of the industrial revolution.  It's had a reputation as a pretty ugly city but also was bombed during World War II because of it's ties to industry.  As it has been rebuilt it's had a revitalization and with that has come some really interesting buildings.

This is the library!  It was closed by the time we were out and about but the outside is interesting -- ship or cake?

And then it's next door to a very classical building

There was also quite a bit of interesting statuary.

We wandered through the Bullring - a major shopping center - and came upon St. Martin's on the other side.  It's a beautiful church and they must have just been ending a service because it was packed with people.  It was nice to see a church being used!

And it had some beautiful stained glass.

Then off to dinner at Pizza Express!  Don't let the name fool you -- there's nothing express about it but the food was good and Abby loved her little tiny pizza.

Our full day in Birmingham we pre purchased tickets for Cadbury World in Bourneville not far away.  We thought it might be fun for the kids.  Birmingham wasn't in our original plans - North Wales was.  But we found that the things we wanted to see in North Wales were going to be hard to get to by public transportation and we weren't able to schedule any tours.  Birmingham was on the way to our next stop so we changed our plans a bit and it worked out well.  The town of Bourneville grew up because of the Cadbury factory and as we walked through we found that the houses had names above the doors.  Who knows if they were original owners or what but one of them was Dursley from Harry Potter!

I have liked Cadbury chocolate for a long time -- Cadbury eggs and Fruit and Nut are my favorite.  Their Cadbury World is kind've cheesy but the kids loved it and it honestly it was fun for us too.  It started with a look at the discovery of chocolate and bringing it back to Europe.

Cadbury started out as a grocer and druggist who sold cocoa and then over time developed the chocolate into bars.  He and his family were Quakers and their treatment of their workers and the benefits that they provided to them were innovative and in many ways really ahead of their time.  It was a really interesting story to learn.  After the educational part they turn it over to the animated cocoa beans and have some "rides".  The first was kind've like Disney's It's a Small World - slow, singing, puppetry.  It was good cheesy fun!

They had a small portion where you could watch the chocolate being made.  The production has gotten so big that you really can't see the factories at work so they had more of an example one and then there was a liquid chocolate bar basically.  You get a cup of liquid chocolate and can add two toppings.  Oh and I forgot to mention that they gave us about 20 full sized chocolate bars when we came in.  We were all hyped up on sugar of course!

Then of course we had to have our picture taken.

They also have a 4D movie -- the kind where you wear 3D glasses and then the chair move.  It sent us on a roller coaster and the kids all loved it -- Megan said now she knows what a roller coaster is like and wants to try a real one.  We may have a chance sometime!

And finally, like all smart attractions geared towards kids there was an adventure playground.  We had had quite a few school groups throughout the tour but by the time we ended up here it was about 2 pm and they were all leaving so the kids had the playground almost entirely to themselves and we let them play for about an hour and a half.

Then it was back to the train station and a train ride to Birmingham and on to Liverpool!

No comments: