Tourist Information Centres
Tourist Information Centres aren't my favourite things and fondest memories of Birmingham but I couldn't think where to list this info for the best.... it's just really to let you know where they all are.
BIRMINGHAM Tourism Centre and Ticket Shop, The Rotunda, 150 New Street, Birmingham B2 4TA
This centre is under the Rotunda, a tall round building standing over the Bull Ring Shopping Centre. It is just down the passageway between the Bull and the shop, Zara
Birmingham National Exhibition Centre, Atrium Tourism Centre, The NEC next to Hall 9, Birmingham B40 1NT Tel: +44 (0)121 202 5101
Birmingham National Exhibition Centre, Piazza Tourism Centre, The NEC next to Hall 5, Birmingham B40 1NT Tel: +44 (0)121 202 5102
Opening hours for NEC offices: Mon - Fri 09:00 - 17:00
Welcome Centre At the junction where New Street meets Corporation Street, Birmingham Town Centre.
Opening hours: Mon-at 09:00 - 18:00, Sundays & Bank Holidays 10:00 - 16:00
The Welcome Centre is a glass structured meet and greet centre for visitors and is staffed by multi-lingual assistants.
The ICC Tourism Centre The Mall, The ICC, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EA Tel: +44 (0)121 202 5100
Jewellery Quarter Information Centre
Location: 120 Vyse Street, situated by Jewellery Quarter Clock.
Open: 10.00am - 4pm Monday to Saturday
The general contact telephone number and e-mail details are as follows:
Tel: +44 (0) 121 202 5099 (Information)
+44 (0) 121 202 5000 (Tickets)
+44 (0) 121 202 5050 (Short Breaks)
Lines open Mon - Sat 09:30 - 17:30, Sundays & Bank Hols 10:30 - 16:30
Web: Be In Birmingham Website Services available include the usual kind of Tourist Centre services such as accommodation booking, tickets for theatres etc, ticketmaster booking for events nationwide, books, guidebooks and gifts, coach tickets and excursions, tickets for local attractions (some of which can be purchased here at a discount).
I pop into the centres periodically as their services are really useful and lots of the information leaflets you pick up give discounts on admission rates or offer linked tickets with other attractions that you wouldn't normally know about.
I have compiled all these details from various lists so if you have any trouble with the individual telephone numbers, please use the general information number (+44 (0)121 202 5099)
A tip for complete nutters
The annual "Tough Guy" run takes place on the last Sunday in January ( or as they put it this year(2004) : the 32nd of January).
Some say doing this once in life is on a par with running the bulls in Pamplona, or doing a Bungee jump : you just have to do it once.
The setting is a horse sanctuary on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. About 3,000 people take part in the run which consists of a very hard 8 mile cross country followed by an assault course that makes one used by the SAS look a bit on the sissy side.
The water tunnels in freezing cold water are probably most competitors greatest fear, although wading through rivers, and crawling under barbed wire come a close second.
Sourbugger's time for this ordeal was three hours, 36 minutes : and he's very proud of it.
If you want to compete next year, you will be in the 'wetnecks', if I do it again I think I'll go for the 'Dickhead or Ghoons section'.
Check out the website below for a close up of the horrors.
You can also spectate on the day (about 5 pounds).
The summer event is similar, but as the temperatures are above freezing it's only for wimps. Months of training and an Iron will.
(see Jelly leg news on the website)
It ain't no Ullwater...
Despite all the creative talents out there on the virtual world, it is quite a difficult feat to make Pendigo lake appear as anything more than a lake stuck in an industrial parl. Some brave souls at flickr have attempted it - but they are still having to crop their shots to avoid taking in some of the monumentally boring boxes of the halls of the National Exhibition Centre.
Hard to believe really, but this could have been the centrepiece for an Olympic games. Birmingham's bid for the 1992 games would have been compact, cheap and easily accessible. On the other hand nobody wanted to come. It therefore got about two votes.
If you happen to be visiting the NEC (and millions do each year for the various exhibitions and fairs) then at least it provides a 'time out' area for a stroll - or indeed a ready made jogging track if you are staying at one of the local hotels.
Underground Nights on the Gay Scene
Terry and Zul provide a friendly welcome to this little gem of the underground dance scene in Birmingham. Although it is actually a gay venue, plenty of straight people go here and the atmosphere is very open minded - homophobes beware! Nights go on 'til 4am and usually cost no more than £5 - not bad for a near all-nighter! The music is usually Deep House or Trance and Hard House. Check it out. None as such but traveller chic may leave you feeling a little out of placce. I've been in jeans and a t-shirt and it's been fine.
Travel West Midlands
The bus system is very well connected, but is becoming increasingly expensive. I've never been a big fan of it and would sooner catch the train, but unfortunately, just before they privatised the buses in Birmingham, they closed many of the local stations... hmmm... I wonder why they did that? It's ridiculous if you consider how badly congested Birmingham's roads are. There are lots of bus lanes to compensate. There is an office outside New Street Station which has all the info you need regarding Buses. The maximum price of an off-peak ticket is currently an expensive £1. Well, I suppose it stops you routing around for change!