Many UK travellers will soon be heading to the airports of London, Glasgow and Birmingham en-route to locations such as Panama, Burma and Tanzania – all places nominated in the New York Times’ top 45 list of places you must visit in 2012.
But perhaps these street-wise adventurers shouldn’t be in such a hurry to depart – London, Glasgow and Birmingham all make the famous paper’s list too.
Those who wish to linger a little longer in Britain’s fairest cities before flying to sunnier climes should investigate airport parking and hotel options. Travel service company FHR can arrange cheap Birmingham airport parking and airport parking at Glasgow and all London airports. The firm is also happy to arrange an airport hotel prior to your departure.
There is little surprise that London has made the list – England’s capital is apparently the fourth best place to visit in 2012 – the year it hosts the Olympics
However, eyebrows have definitely been raised that Glasgow finished 12th and Birmingham finished 19th (one place ahead of ‘space’) – a sign of long-overdue recognition for Scotland and England’s second cities.
Birmingham blogger Jon Bounds, speaking on Radio Four’s Today radio programme, thinks his home city deserves the New York Times’ praise.
Mr Bounds recommended Soho House as a great historical place to visit in Birmingham – this beautiful mansion was the home of Matthew Boulton, an 18th century manufacturer and businessman who mechanised factories and mills and kick-start the industrial revolution. Boulton also supplied the Royal Mint with up-to-date equipment; visit Solo House, it’s now a museum, and find out how he did this.
In the modern era, Birmingham has become famous for the Balti – Brummies claim that this dish, while boasting many of the flavours of Pakistan and India, is in fact a Birmingham invention. It is a claim which the New York Times definitely believes – it advises first-time visitors to the Black Country’s capital to check out the ‘Balti Triangle’ area of the city; a place choc-a-block with curry houses.
Glasgow’s inclusion in the list (at number 12) owes much to a decision made by Scottish town planners in 1976. This was when schemes to pour money into a new town called Stonehouse were cancelled in favour of re-generating Glasgow.
Nick Bailey, professor of urban regeneration at the University of Westminster, told the Today programme: “Since the mid-70s Glasgow has gone from strength to strength through a whole succession of garden festivals, city of culture awards etc. etc. It’s got the Commonwealth Games coming up in 2014 and has so many cultural assets; galleries, museums and theatres and historical buildings.”
Mr Bailey recommends that intrepid adventurers should take a good look at the Burrell Collection when they visit Glasgow. This art collection is housed in a purpose-built building in Pollok Country Park on the south side of the city and was assembled by Sir William Burrell.
Burrell was a prosperous and generous Glaswegian shipping magnate whose love of Degas, Cezanne, medieval weapons and Islamic artefacts is evident when you see the collection. The philanthropist bequeathed the city the collection on the condition that it be housed at least 16 miles away from the centre of Glasgow to avoid the damaging effects of air pollution.
It took the trustees 20 years to find an appropriate home - Pollok Country Park. They did well; Pollok was named best park in Europe in 2008 – a symbol, just like the New York Times’ praise, of the city’s successful regeneration.
Birmingham and Glasgow’s delights make them worthy members of the NY Times top 50 club but one mystery about the list remains. Why did Birmingham finish one place about ‘space’?
Birmingham blogger Jon Bounds thinks he has the answer. He told Radio Four’s Today programme: “Visiting Birmingham is far more ecologically responsible than hopping on one of Richard Branson’s space crafts.”