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Prepare for a summer experience in 2012

Published:Sunday | December 18, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Scenes from the Handsworth Carnival , Birmingham, England.- File

Jamila Gordon, Contributor

You can't get an event ticket for the 2012 Olympic Games and you can't find a hotel in London? But you just really want to get there to be a part of the experience to get a glimpse of Usain Bolt or Veronica Campbell Brown on the track? I think you need a new game plan! Maybe you should consider going a few weeks earlier when the flights are cheaper and the hotels are more likely to have vacant rooms. Instead of fighting to get near the sold-out stadium or getting a scalped ticket for a nose-bleed seat, wouldn't it be better to be in the town with your favourite Olympic star? What about viewing them while training for free in most cases (or a very minimal cost compared to an event ticket), having dinner in the same restaurant as them and probably even bumping into them while taking an evening stroll.

"2012 Games is not just about London, but the whole of the United Kingdom ...," says their minister of sports. More than half the world's countries have taken up an offer by the London 2012 Olympic Games organisers to prepare and acclimatise their teams at an approved training camp in the UK. There are 100 training camps across the UK. The most significant to Jamaica would be the West Midlands in particular Birmingham that will be hosting our athletes at the University of Birmingham campus. Incidentally, Birmingham will also be hosting other high-profile athletes from the US. If you aren't interested in seeing track and field stars, then be prepared to head to the South East or the Northwest of England, Scotland and Wales.

Commercial centre

Birmingham is the second most populous city in Britain and hailed as the first manufactured town in the world by Eric Hopkins and is today, a major international commercial centre. Unfortunately, there isn't much for sightseeing in Birmingham, but those 'Brummies' know how to have a roadshow. There is a very active nightlife and Birmingham is home to many festivals like the Caribbean-style Birmingham International Carnival and the Birmingham Pride which attract more than 10,000 visitors each year. Their Patrick's Day parade is Europe's second largest next to Dublin. Other multicultural events include the Bangla Mela and the Mardi-Gras style-Birmingham Heritage Festival.

If you were into viewing historical sites, Birmingham is not the place to be because it is historically an industrial town and most of its original Victorian or Georgian architectural-style buildings have been destroyed and replaced during the post-war redevelopment. However, there are 13 listed 'ancient monuments that may be worth your while. The award-winning Future Systems' Selfridges building in the Bullring Shopping Centre should be on your list of things to see in Birmingham.

What the city lacks in history it makes up for in arts and culture, so if you have the time be sure to check out some modern art at the Barbar Institute of fine arts; a provocative play at their Repertory Theatre; a performance by one of the UK's premier ballet companies, the Birmingham Royal Ballet; and if they are in town, you must go to Symphony Hall to hear the City of Birmingham Symphony.

Birmingham Airport is easily accessible internationally from New York-Newark or domestically from London. Birmingham is a major transport hub on the motorway, rail and canal networks. So getting to and from should not be a problem, just give us a call at any one of our offices and we will show you how.

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