Tag Archives: National Express

Every journey starts with an airport transfer

Evert journey starts with a small step and (often) an airport transfer…

It’s 4am on the coach from Birmingham to Manchester Airport, which puts me in mind of The 4am Project – so I take a phone snapshot aboard the National Express 422 service. It’s a blurry fail (those lights are the view out the front window) but also kinda pretty. The world at 4am is a whole different kettle of surreal fish – and that’s the point really.

4am Project

Blue neon tunnel on the travelator to Terminal 3. More crazy lights but I like it. It’s a 12 mins walk to checkin, though.

Travelator to Terminal 3

Arcade games at the gate? We’re not in Birmingham now, Toto. Still, the seats are great for kipping on.

Arcade machines, Gate 52

FYI, Gate 52 at Terminal 3, Manchester Airport is also a Defibrillator Station. With my fear of flying (see yesterday’s confessional post), I felt strangely reassured.

Defibrillator, Gate 52

Checking the plane over through the window – it looks shiny and new. Ok then, I’ll board.

BMIbaby Boeing 737-300

One of the swifter boardings, thankfully. It was funny when a crew member changed into her comfortable shoes aboard the flight. Glamour – check.

Gate 52, Manchester Airport

Bmibaby cabin crew action shot!

BMIbaby flight attendant

That’s France down there. (I’m much happier now I’m in the cruise corridor.)

France!

Kiss the pilot, we’ve landed. Toulouse Airport is packed with urban, futuristic chic.

Toulouse airport

The transfer down to the coast is a swift autoroute ride with a viewing point for Carcassonne Castle.

Carcasonne castle

Next step: the holiday.

Bmibaby.com flights to Toulouse from Manchester in October cost between £41 and £63 return, taxes and charges included.

Spending New Year at Birmingham’s shiny new Coach Station in Digbeth

Birmingham Coach Station frontageBirmingham finally has a shiny new National Express coach station – and we chose to see in the New Year there last Thursday pm/Friday am. (Actually, we were jumping on local blogger Nicky Getgood’s project – she was spending 6pm-6am there collecting stories of the people passing through the new station – here’s the full story.)

Gates for boardingThe new station is still on the same site as the old Digbeth coach station but it’s enclosed, airport-style, with different gateways for different destinations.

Ticket machinesIt’s also clean, white, warm and welcoming – very different from the old, cold and black station. For a peak inside, the full set of pics is here on Flickr.

COW Vintage and Big Bull's HeadThe area around the station used to be pretty bleak as well, but it now houses a lively alternative underbelly of Birmingham culture and entertainment, the antithesis to the mainstream glitz of Broad Street. If you’re killing time between buses, head cross the road to COW Vintage (pictured behind the yellow door!), a warehouse full of retro loveliness. The Big Bull’s Head, a few doors up, is the spot to grab huge platefuls of cheap and filling pub food – I can recommend the fantastic Irish Stew.

Custard FactoryWithin five minutes walk is also the revamped Irish Centre, the Custard Factory (pictured above), Birmingham’s oldest inn The Old Crown, favoured Irish pub The Spotted Dog, digital media centre Fazeley Studios, Birmingham Central Backpackers, Manzil’s Indian restaurant, Friends of the Earth cafe, Latifs – a modern-day Aladdin’s cave, The Rainbow and much more.

Digbeth O'LympicsIt’s also a hub for events such as the St Patrick’s Day parade, the Digbeth O’Lympics (pictured above), Supersonic festival, and more. Check out Nicky’s Digbeth Is Good blog for latest news.

She should also have updates as to when the bus station (and therefore Digbeth) finally gets its first cashpoint. Until then, happy new year from the bus station crew, pictured here with party poppers at the ready at 11.59 and followed by fireworks over nearby Chinatown just afterwards…

11.59 on NYE at the bus station

NYE Fireworks over Chinatown

[All images © Fiona Cullinan, released under Creative Commons, attribution only, non-commercial license – contact me for other usage permissions. Words fulfilling one of my 10 New Year’s Travel Resolutions of writing about Hometown Tourism]