Date and Duration:
December 27-31 (4 days)
What an incredible city! Personally, if there was a city that perfectly embodied who I am as a human being, it would be Manchester. Luckily, our hostel was located directly in the city so everything was a walk away, no need for public transportation (although I do miss the Underground).
Day 1: When our bus finally arrived, we stored our luggage at the hostel and went out to wander the city. We found yet another Caffe Nero coffee shop that was located near a train station. I got a cup of tea and people watched from the second story of all the people coming and going with their luggage and just soaked in the fact that I was actually in Manchester. We wandered back and checked in, got comfy and rested for a little before heading out for dinner. I luckily knew someone from the city that was able to recommend some great places, so we ended up at a burger place called Almost Famous. Very reasonable price for a huge burger. These are your regular burgers, they’ve got mac ‘n’ cheese, pulled pork, crisps, you name it. But be aware: they get busy very fast. My friend and I got there just as they opened and nobody was in the restaurant, but within minutes every table was filled. After dinner, I decided to wander without my map. Each time we encountered a four-way street, my friend and I took turns in making the decision of which way to turn. We ended up in Chinatown which was very vibrant. I can’t even tell you where we ended up because I didn’t even know, but we found some malls and shopping centers and eventually found a jazz club that we popped in for a glass of wine. All the tables were reserved which was a bummer, but it was still an experience.
Day 2: The University of Manchester and their museum for starters, which was free and mainly on anthropology and such, but was still an interesting tour nonetheless. We made our way back and walked the canals in the Gay Village (which apparently has the best bars) and visited the Alan Turing Memorial. Turns out the entire park was dedicated to those who have died of AIDS or those who were gay/trans and committed suicide. A very touching scene. As we were making our way back, I found the tea shop of my dreams. Chapter One is a bookstore and tea shop along Lever Street. Inside, it has a myriad of books to choose from, comfy seats with fireplaces for your feet, incredible sets of tea to choose from, a water fountain, my favorite indie-folk music playing overhead, and in the backroom they’ve got three typewriters that are available for your use. When I say Manchester is the embodiment of me, this is what I mean. Not only did I find this tea shop, but Manchester is filled with vintage clothing stores, a million record stores, very cute book and stationary stores that are filled with crafts that range from globes to a carry-on whiskey set. Manchester is a very youthful city with an old soul which gives it its beauty. It caters to the youthful who would like to party and those who would like to rifle through records for a couple of hours.
At night, I bar hopped with a couple of people I met in the hostel. From a lounge, to an underground bar with pinball, to a karaoke bar until 3 am, it was a successful night full of lots of laughs and good memories.
Day 3: Manchester Cathedral and laundry. At night, the people I was traveling with as well as those I met didn’t feel like going out so I did something I never thought I’d do: I went out by myself. Talk about growth! And blissfully, I ended up running into the two German girls that were staying in our dorm. They and their group of German men were heading to a club and I decided to tag along with the thought of why not resonating through my head. I’m in Europe, it’s time to take chances. It wasn’t the best of nights, the club was heavily packed like sardines that you couldn’t even dance because of lack of space. But I’m glad I went, I would rather go and have an alright time than not go and believe I missed out on something tremendous.
Tip: If there is anything this trip taught me, it’s to take chances. I’m not the kind of girl to just go out in a city I don’t know with random people (who also didn’t speak much English), but that is what these adventures are about. Testing yourself and your limits, trying new things and maybe doing something you wouldn’t have if you were home.
Go out there and find a story to tell when you return.
Day 4: Majority of the day was spent in Chapter One because that is what I love, the local shops. Later in the night though is when things got a little crazy. I had left my friend in the hostel to go to a coffee shop down the road (also, note: I was so shocked that they sell alcohol at coffee shops) to do some journaling. It was then that she sporadically starting texting me and telling me to look at her Snap story. It was then that I saw a man that was staying in our dorm, stark naked, in the dark, marching back and forth. I think this story deserves its own post so I’ll make a link for that, [HERE] but needless to say we had to switch rooms for our last night. My friend went back out into the city to another jazz club which sadly didn’t have any jazz that night, only a DJ, but they had killer cocktails. The place was called the Fitzgerald, I think we just caught it on a slow night. We bar hopped to another underground bar called Twenty Twenty Two that had six ping pong tables and then back to the pinball bar from before to grab a piece of pizza. At around midnight we called it headed back to the hostel to rest up for our bus to Edinburgh the next day.
Day 5: At 9 am we left Manchester and headed for Scotland, but I was very disappointed to be leaving. I don’t know if I could see myself living there, but it truly was a wonderful local place. Many people told me that you don’t go to Manchester for the city, you go there if you know people. That should change. Go to Manchester. Immerse in the music history and vintage stores and spend an hour in a record store or a coffee shop. Get drunk in an underground bar or a karaoke bar and don’t care about the time. Maybe take a day trip to Liverpool. It’s vibrant, it’s youthful, it’s like going back in time. It’s Manchester.