Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Birmingham and Cirque de Soleil

After our visit to the Catacombs we went back to the hotel to collect our cases and then caught our bus to Charles de Gaulle airport for our flight to Birmingham.

Our flight was from Terminal 1 which is a bizarre flying saucer like structure that probably looked very futuristic when it was built in the 60s but now looks horribly out of time. The interior of the ‘saucer’ is criss-crossed with long moving walkways that undulate up and down over each other.

The flight itself to Birmingham was uneventful and we caught the train from the Airport into the city centre.

Wow! I haven’t lived and worked in Birmingham for 16 years and God has it changed. There are new skyscrapers and entire new districts everywhere. It is like seeing a CGI enhanced ‘Birmingham of the Future’.

We were staying in the Ramada hotel in the new (well new to me) Mailbox district and the hotel was very comfortable and modern with amazing views over the new developments. After a quick coffee and shower we set off for the National Indoor Arena for our evening with Cirque de Soleil.

The walk from the hotel to the NIA was very pleasant, along the canals and past all the new waterside cafes and bars.

When we got to the arena we found that out tickets had been upgraded and we now had excellent seats with great views of the performance area. The NIA is massive and the seats soon filled up before the performance started.

The show itself was absolutely stunning with jaw dropping feats of human acrobatics with a healthy smattering of comedy and audience participation. I have to admit that during one of the trapeze sequences my heart was in my mouth as the performers contorted themselves into impossible positions whilst soaring tens of feet over the audience.

After the show, we picked up some food and headed back to the hotel.

This morning, after we checked out and had a light breakfast, we set off to have a look around the Bullring Shopping Centre. I could recognise bits of it but the vast majority was gleaming and new. It was so good to see the city re-born and I hope that the recent downturn in the economy doesn’t stop further development.

As I type this, we are on the train heading home and, sadly, my birthday weekend is coming to a close.

Thank you, Hamish, for organising everything and making what was a depressing birthday (in terms of my age) into a fantastic and memorable experience.

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