Alligators and Airboats – Amateur Traveler Video #76

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By chris2x

Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting Visit the bayou outside […]

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Birmingham, England | Free city guide

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By David Whitley

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David Whitley discovers unexpected sides to Birmingham, an industrial powerhouse that also plays an important role in the worlds of chocolate and fantasy fiction.

Why Birmingham?

England‘s second city is one that tends to keep its head down and not make a fuss. It has always been a place where things get done, not crowed about. But Birmingham’s impact has stretched around the world in many an unlikely manner. It’s the birthplace of industrial metalworking and heavy metal music, Cadbury’s chocolate and Lord of the Rings – many sites in the southern suburbs were thinly transformed by local boy JRR Tolkien into different parts of Middle Earth.

Behind that undemonstrative demeanour, however, is a city that quietly confounds expectations. A genuinely friendly streak seems to run through Birmingham – people routinely strike up conversations at bus stops. And big changes over the last 20 years have made a city that was once a byword for horrific urban planning into somewhere with an understated, but tangible, buzz.

A comfortable bed

Staying Cool at The Rotunda (00 44 121 285 1290) does the serviced apartment thing so well, it should probably be studied in textbooks. The decór is 60s pop art meets contemporary, the location is absolutely central, and in-room inclusions in include board games plus fresh oranges and juicers. Apartments cost from £99.50.

The Indigo (00 44 121 643 2010) has more celebrity sparkle, with an eye-popping cube theme running throughout, a Marco Pierre White steakhouse with killer views on the top floor and a rare-for-Birmingham pool on the lower levels. Doubles from £98.50.

If on a budget, Bloc (00 44 121 212 1223) trades off space – rooms are aimed at those not spending much time in them – for the things that matter. For from £30, you get …read more

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