Have you ever visited a new city and spotted one of those big red open-top tour buses? Those bus tours are one of my favourite ways to get to know a new place. If you’re ever limited on time, it’s a sure way to see all the top attractions a city has. They seem to come in 2 types: pre-recorded commentary and live guides. I’ve found pre-recorded commentary dull and dry at times, plus the ear buds provided are quite painful. I need to start bringing some nice head phones around with me! Live guides on the other hand, are entertaining and interactive. Usually they are local experts, and can point out out some of the best bars, shops, sights and restaurants you may otherwise miss. I recently discovered Birmingham had one of these bus tours. One cloudy Saturday I decided to be a tourist in my town for the day.
The tour bus (or buz as they call it) picks up by the intersection of Colmore Row and Waterloo Street near Victoria Square. It was really easy to find. I took a seat on the top deck and hoped the rain would hold off. My tour didn’t begin on schedule, but there was a very good reason. The bus was waiting for the Lord Mayor of Birmingham to arrive. He said hello to each passenger on the bus before we were off!
The tour begins with an overview of Victoria Square. The top deck provides a much better viewpoint (as if I even have to say that, duh) for seeing the lovely carved stonework of the Council House. This area is also where the Floozie in the Jacuzzi resides, although now she is the lady of the garden. I hope one day to see this fountain return to its former glory!
The tour ventures in and out of city centre. We passed through Jewellery Quarter, Edgbaston, University of Birmingham, Digbeth, and Highgate. Unfortunately the rain and wind forced me down below to the lower deck near the start of the tour so I don’t have many pictures. The 2 guides provided great commentary, combining historical facts and entertaining stories. There were lots of things I never would have noticed before if not for this tour. Did you know Jewellery Quarter has 3 unique gateway lamp posts marking the area? The tour does a brilliant job at showcasing the architecture in Jewellery Quarter.
What I like most about this tour is how passionate the guides are. It really shows how much they care about generating a positive word out there for Birmingham. They are very proud to be Brummies.
Birmingham Big Buz Tours run every Saturday and Sunday from end of April to September. There are even themed bus tours available! Check the big brum buz site for more details.