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Villa Park Pilgrimage


MNVillan
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London, do the touristy things - you can easily cover the big ones in a day they're an easy walk from each other. In fact I went from Buckingham Palace to Westminster and the London Eye on the way home from the England game just now. Obviously you'd spend longer there and with crowds will take longer but definitely doable in a day.

Worth going to some bars and some food markets. Borough Market and Camden Market are both great. On the off chance there are still Covid restrictions Camden has been better since Covid. Both are great though and on the usual 'tourist' lists. 

It's way away from the City centre but Richmond Park is great, huge green space and deer etc inside of it just roaming round but there's loads of green space near Central too. 

Fit a West End show in and you've got a busy, expensive, very touristy but well worth it weekend for your first trip here. Many of the west end shows are similar to Broadway. Be interesting to see what comes back after Covid but loads of good ones to see.

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As I also live in the states, I can't really help you that much in terms of what to do over there. I will say, I made my first trek over for the Spurs game last February, and something that kept the price relatively low was I booked airfare plus hotel together. Obviously, a lot depends on which game you pick and where you decide to stay (and what you're interested in seeing).

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Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's birthplace), Kenilworth Castle, Warwick Castle.

Bodymoor Heath and around Tamworth has some lovely quaint typical English Villages and so too around Kenilworth and Stratford.

Lichfield also has a lot of history too.

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I’m curious as to where Villa fans drink on both match day and non-match day. I’ve always heard the “Villa fans don’t drink in the city centre” line from Blosers, but is it actually true? I also don’t know any pubs besides Holte Pub around VP for match day

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18 minutes ago, MNVillan said:

I’m curious as to where Villa fans drink on both match day and non-match day. I’ve always heard the “Villa fans don’t drink in the city centre” line from Blosers, but is it actually true? I also don’t know any pubs besides Holte Pub around VP for match day

I went to Hennessey's in Digbeth after the Newcastle game in 2008 and was good. I wanted to watch Ireland vs France in 6 nations so figured Irish pub would show. Had idea in my head that Digbeth was blue nose area but asked Villa fan after game and he said was fine

Edited by Kiwivillan
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2 hours ago, MNVillan said:

Hey all, Mrs MNVillan and I are considering making our first pilgrimage to VP this autumn. Coming from Minnesota in the US. We are looking at seeing Palace away on Nov 27th and Man City at VP on Nov 30th. I’m a MN Lions Club member, and will try to arrange tickets through them. 
 

What I’m looking for from you lot is recommendations on where to stay, where to eat, and what to do in both London and Birmingham. We’ve never been to the UK, so we’ll be doing all of the touristy things in London, but still need recommendations on things to do off the “tourist” list, as well as any must-do or must-avoid things in both cities. Any and all help appreciated.

Mods: I wasn’t really sure where to put this. Apologies in advance if it should be elsewhere, feel free to move it (obviously).

Having undertaken the trip a couple of times over the past few years, I would recommend Pullman London St Pancras hotel if staying in London. It's like a 5 minutes walk to King's Cross and St Pancras stations to get around London on the underground, but also 5 minute walk to London Euston station which gets you the fast trains up to Birmingham for day trip or if staying for a couple of days.

Just spend a little time working out the underground, once you do its a breeze.

Also stayed  a week at the Novotel London at Canary Wharf, it's a little out of the way, but great views of London from down there and 5 minute walk from the water taxi's and 15 minute run on the Thames into the middle of London which is a worthwhile experience. Download the app on your mobile device, can book tickets on line, swipe etc

If you fly into Heathrow just catch the underground in, they have signs from airport to trains, a lot cheaper and direct to Paddington station.

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I have not been to VP since 2006 when I was enrolled in an exchange program in nearby Leicester. Back then I was a member of a Villa Fans Email mailing list and quite a few supporters on the mailing list were kind enough to take me around Birmingham and meet-up on matchdays. One of the supporters was close to the club's directors and arranged a tour of Bodymoor Heath for me.  I'm really appreciative of all those who were warm to welcome me. Would be great if a group could be created to welcome international supporters, so visiting Villans can have a similar experience to the one I did.

 

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If you’re going with your lady friend I’d tend to go to places where football colours aren’t up to dress code, just in case there would be any trouble. Plenty of nice places in the city centre you could go for a meal and a pint. Same goes with the stadium, maybe Lower Trinity instead of Holte etc.

In London, worth checking in the museum is still doing sleepovers. I never did it myself but it sounds like a memorable tourist thing.

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3 minutes ago, Enda said:

If you’re going with your lady friend I’d tend to go to places where football colours aren’t up to dress code, just in case there would be any trouble. Plenty of nice places in the city centre you could go for a meal and a pint. Same goes with the stadium, maybe Lower Trinity instead of Holte etc.

In London, worth checking in the museum is still doing sleepovers. I never did it myself but it sounds like a memorable tourist thing.

(And to be clear by trouble I’m using American Midwestern standards here, not 1980s hooligans standards. It will be safe, just a little crude to the uninitiated.)

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5 hours ago, MNVillan said:

I’m curious as to where Villa fans drink on both match day and non-match day. I’ve always heard the “Villa fans don’t drink in the city centre” line from Blosers, but is it actually true? I also don’t know any pubs besides Holte Pub around VP for match day

For match days, and if you don’t mind a 25 minute walk to the ground (or short taxi ride), you can’t go to far wrong with The Barton Arms. Just look at it.

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I’ve seen Villa supporters and away supporters there, so it’s fairly well mannered. Incredible vintage feel to it inside. Stan & Ollie stayed there (Laurel & Hardy, not Collymore and Watkins). Worth a visit.

As for Birmingham pubs in general, this thread may be of some assistance. 

 

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2 hours ago, Enda said:

If you’re going with your lady friend I’d tend to go to places where football colours aren’t up to dress code, just in case there would be any trouble. Plenty of nice places in the city centre you could go for a meal and a pint. Same goes with the stadium, maybe Lower Trinity instead of Holte etc.

In London, worth checking in the museum is still doing sleepovers. I never did it myself but it sounds like a memorable tourist thing.

I appreciate this. I think for a nightly basis, we’re trying to experience Brum as Americans, not Villa fans. However, on match day we’re going to be full on Villa and she’s prepared for that. We’re not traveling to VP to sit anywhere except the Holte!

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If you visit BMH, just down the road is a pub called the Dog and Doublet. It’s a nice canal side pub with good beer and food. They’ve also got rooms so it wouldn’t be a bad place to stay. Drive into Sutton Coldfield, (if you’re hiring a car), park there and get the train to Villa Park. The Station and The Three Tuns in Sutton are both very close to the railway station, for a prematch and after match beer or two. If you intend to get into it properly perhaps a cab to and from the Dog and Doublet may be a better plan, unless Mrs MNV is behind the wheel. 

Villa Park is wonderful. You’re first view of the pitch will be something else. My first trip was when we were in the old third division but after all these years and hundreds of visits when I walk up the steps to my seat and look out over the pitch it’s still magical. Have a fantastic trip and make sure we win. Otherwise you’re barred!!

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A tour of Wembley might be nice, while you are there. I've stayed at the Hilton and the Novotel during my recent trips to the stadium and would recommend both. It is rather nice to wake up with a view of the stadium, if you don't mind being outside of the centre of London. Tea at the Ritz might be worth considering too. In Brum, the Museum & Art Gallery is known for it's Pre-Raphaelite collection and a meal or an afternoon tea at Marco Pierre White's restaurant at the Mailbox has window seats on the 25th floor of The Cube that offer a great view of Birmingham.

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Posted (edited)

In Brum, the following are interesting:

Sutton Park, an very large wild park given to the people of Sutton in 1528 by Henry VIII. It's unique in the country, although you may get lost.

Birmingham University - the world's tallest freestanding clock tower stands in the semicircle of the main campus buildings which overall looks suspiciously like Isengard...

Talking of Tolkien, as well as the uni there is Mosely Bog/Sarehole Mill and various other bits of Tolkien trail things to look at.

Museums: Birmingham museum and art gallery has lots of impressive art and some history of the town stuff and often special exhibitions on. The pen museum in the jewellery quarter is interesting, and quite small, and there are lots of good pubs in that general area. At the University of Birmingham the Barber Institute of Fine Arts is highly regarded.

Library of Birmingham - our interesting new library, quite a fancy place if you want a stroll around, and the Shakespeare Room at the very top is nice.

Symphony Hall - maybe check out whatever is on there, both classic and pop concerts, one of the world's best concert halls.

Town Hall - a amazing building and also has shows on, maybe something would be on there.

If you want a Michelin starred expensive meal, check out Adams or Purnells in the city centre. There are a lot of highly rated edgy places in Brum like The Wilderness. For an amazing Indian food experience I'd recommend Opheem which is stunning, or alternatively head over to the Balti Triangle and get yourself a Balti.

The Electric Cinema - the world's oldest working cinema, a great place, modernised but still with a great atmosphere. Worth a visit if anything is on and right by New Street railway station.

Honestly, there's a lot you can do and visit in Brum, just most people don't know about it or just aren't interested.

Edited by Lichfield Dean
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