Birmingham, England–A Great Place to Visit in 2015


A return visit to Birmingham, West Midlands, England, was warranted since the completion of the stunning new library, which is said to be the largest public library in the U.K.

And perhaps there was the underlying lure of the image of the row of hand pumps at the Wellington still stamped in my brain.



Birmingham is the second most populous city in the U.K. and it once had a canal system that rivalled that of Venice.

Birmingham has six twin cities, including Chicago, Illinois, USA. And Rough Guides just named Birmingham as one of 10 cities to visit in 2015.





And if that isn’t enough, the city has plenty of great pubs such as the The Prince of Wales, just behind the ICC/Symphony Hall and five minutes away from the new library and Birmingham Rep Theatre.

Amsterdam–a Vibrant City of Canals, Bicycles and Beer



I spent a most enjoyable week in this bicycle-mad city where the canals may be one of the main attractions but when walking you have to keep your eyes sharply peeled for cyclists of all ages in some kind of a bloody hurry.


The Van Gogh Museum was a certain delight, as was finding the Louis Bar Café De Dam at Singel 43, which overlooks a busy canal.



Here in the small environs of this bar I discovered the very fine locally brewed and unfiltered Brouwerij’T ij IPA, a 7 percent ABV stunner, with rich floral hop notes and citrus flavours stamping the palate with authority. Refreshing grapefruit comingles with juicy malt to keep the drinker returning for more. And I did.





082 (2)Label details here reprinted on a poster in another Amsterdam bar.