Birmingham feels so much smaller than I imagined such a large sprawl on the map would be. The sprawl made me think it would be like London's neverending vastness, where as in fact, it's all very compact and Victorian. (To be fair, I now know it's the suburbs, not the city, which do all the sprawling. Maybe B'ham is really more a conflation of several cities, along with all the ambient conurbation expanse.) It may have a slew of city-center railway stations, but the cathedral is petite and I feel as if I can walk everywhere important within twenty minutes. It has a thriving, healthy city centre with handsome buildings and a plenitude of the usual High Street shops.
The city's main waterway is a canal system. It couldn't have grown up that way though. I wonder what the river is hiding in Birmingham's heart?