As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t have a chance for any big adventures on this trip to England, but I did find many small moments to enjoy during my time in Birmingham.
England is a dependably rainy country, and I spent many afternoons sipping tea and reading while glancing out the rain-streaked windows at the greenery that was so abundant in Birmingham.
However, I didn’t let the rain deter me the whole time. Birmingham has a beautiful city centre, and I made sure to spend a (very rainy) afternoon shopping along New Street, Birmingham’s pedestrian shopping street, and admiring the stately architecture on Victoria Square.
When it started to rain harder, I ducked into a coffee shop where my friend Molly was studying for her exams and joined her for one of my favorite British sweets (millionaire shortbread–a layer of soft caramel sandwiched between a thick sheet of Belgian chocolate and a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookie).
After Molly finished her reading, we both ventured into the Bullring, Birmingham’s collection of shopping malls, restaurants, and markets. We wandered around, taking in all of the familiar sights of my old city’s shopping centre, until hail started to pelt us and we ducked into the Birmingham rag market.
A clearer evening in the city centre made for a beautiful sunset as the pastel clouds provided a background to St. Martin’s Church and the iconic Selfridges in the Bullring.
Another clear evening found me on campus with my friend Will. Though we missed the sunset, University of Birmingham retained all of its redbrick splendor as we walked by my favorite old study spots in the dim, blue evening light.
One bright morning found me gawking at some of the attention-grabbing details of Birmingham’s Digbeth neighborhood, which borders the Bullring and yet has a completely different atmosphere; a walk through Digbeth is much more relaxed than a stroll through the bustling crowds of shoppers at the Bullring.
My last night in England was the most beautiful moment of all. As I walked home from the shop (with a bag of British snacks for my friends and family), I was bathed in the pink-and-blue glow of the sunset. When I got back to Molly’s house, I turned around and was blown away when I saw the clouds that were alive with the last bit of evening light. The row of student housing reflected the view off the windows and I stood there for a moment, surrounded by what I was (and still am) convinced was magic. My heart jumped as I thought back to all of the beauty that I have discovered in this amazing city, and how much more beauty is left for me to discover.
I’ll be back to Birmingham, someday. It’s a city that has a bad reputation within England, is virtually unknown to people in most other countries, and isn’t a very popular destination to people living in or visiting England. But it’s a city that feels so much like home to me that any future visits to England won’t be complete without admiring all of the beautiful and interesting things that I have come to love about Birmingham.