About Birmingham: Birmingham, or "Brum" as it's known in local parlance, is England's second largest city and one of its most interesting and contradictory. The home of HP Sauce and band Black Sabbath, Brum also has a notable industrial past. The Lunar Society, a group of scientists and intellectuals at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution and included Charles Darwin's grandfather, invented the original factory and created gas lighting, among other achievements. Birmingham was heavily bombed in the Second World War, and today has rebuilt with a folk twist. A branch of the Royal Ballet has set up shop, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has a lavish modern concert hall. While not known for its spectacular monuments, this West Midlands city has some high-quality art galleries, like the collection of pre-Raphaelite work at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Walking along the canals from Brindleyplace to the Mailbox, indulging in great shopping, or checking out the Cadbury chocolate factory, are three more attractions. Brum is alive and well after dark, with some of Britain's best clubbing and lots of live music venues, and wonderful restaurants in the Balti Triangle. The city center has a good selection of reasonably priced hotels and luxury options, as well as friendly hostels.