Saturday, January 5, 2013

Birmingham, Alabama

The weekend before Christmas I was able to get some time away from work and drive up to visit my best friend, Daniel in Birmingham. He had to work for most of the time, which was completely understandable and kinda fun because it left me free to explore this new place. What I found was very surprising!
It seems to me that this city is a small town that's simply expanded into the outlying small towns. There are lots of beautiful "downtown" districts with shops and restaurants. The city also has a ton of history, especially centering on the Civil Rights movement. But the most surprising part of all was the amount of green spaces there where. The city is littered with parks and squares, most notable was the Mountain Brook park which holds the zoo and the botanical gardens.

Here's my itinerary. I highly recommend visiting these places.

Day 1: Brunch at Tracy's in Five Points. This small village is a great area to relax and simply enjoy the beautiful day. I then took a walk through the park and admired the area. Birmingham has a lot of joggers so always be aware of who may be approaching you. By this time I was in desperate need of some coffee so I headed to the Mountain Brook village and strolled through the area with my Gingerbread latte. Saw several great places that I made note of wanting to visit in the future.
           Then I got into my car in search of the "downtown" but got very lost. See, Birmingham is at the foothills of the Smokey Mountains, so it's street twist and turn until you have no idea where it's taking you- I HIGHLY recommend a GPS in this city. I finally stumbled upon another park area- The Vulcan. It has breathtaking views of the city. It's a bit of a climb from where you park, but worth every moment of it.
            I wound down the evening by cooking in my friend's awesome kitchen, but had to run out for supplies. Groceries consist of Publix, Piggly Wiggly, and Walmart- but we found this great store called Western. They have an amazing wine selection and the guy working really knew his stuff. They didn't have the exact bottle I was looking for, but said they usually did and was able to make recommendations accordingly. I couldn't get over the level of service!
Day 2: Brunch at Bistro V in Vestavia Hills. This place is award winning and they hold the claim to the "Best Eggs Benedict in Birmingham" which won over Daniel right away! I had the brisket omelet, which came with grits- a first for me. Over all, very delicious- but I'm not sure I LOVE grits.
            A majority of the day was spent in the Downtown area, he knew how to get there! We walked along the freedom trail which hosted the civil rights march through the white districts of Birmingham. It lead us to Kelly Ingram Park. This park is an interactive walk-through of art and history to help visitors better understand exactly what activists went through on the march. Parts were a little terrifying for me, but overall a great tribute. The park is directly outside of The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. We visited on a Sunday and tours were free, but you may still donate. Please donate! It is well worth $5. This is one of the best museums I've ever visited.
              The night ended back in Mountain Brook village at one of the restaurants that had caught my eye... well, two restaurants actually! Avo & Dram, where I had the special: Roasted Boar Chops and Daniel had a burger. Both were cooked perfectly and even though the place was super busy, the service was good. Plus they carried one of our favorite wines: David Bruce Pinot Noir.

Even though this was a short trip, it was still fun. I had ample opportunity to explore and see the sights. I'm really looking forward to a return visit in the near future!

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