Sometimes the hardest thing to do in an ordinary life is to find time to travel. And more importantly find time to write about it. So, finally I have gotten round to putting this piece together about my short trip to the city of Manchester.
Working a 9-5 job can sometimes have its perks when they decide to send you to a conference somewhere. So that was how it was decided. My alarm clock was set for 4am and my train from London Euston to Manchester awaited. I know what you’re thinking, 4am is a killer, and it was!
But it was worth it! I made it into Manchester Piccadilly station just after 8am and started my wander to the Northern Quarters. Although the air was crisp and cold against my face it was a cloudless sky and a bright morning which added a spring to my step. And boy was I in for a surprise with Manchester.
So a little background.
Growing up, I always had some family living in Manchester and the parts I visited seemed ordinary. There was never very much to do, so my terrible memory lead me to believe. So not really on the top of the travel list. That was my first mistake…
The first thing that caught my eye in the Northern Quarter was a beautiful painting on the side of a building. The colours were vibrant making the bird quite literally jump out at passers by. The paint over the brickwork gave a crocheted effect to the painting. I knew then that my low expectations were unjustified. But sometimes having low expectations is better, you’re less likely to be left disappointed. Like with a big Hollywood blockbuster.
Now sadly, as much as I would have loved to explore the city further, I had a whole day of seminars at the Studio at The Hive on Digital Project Management, which tools are best to use and on leadership. The seminars were thought provoking and great for picking up new skills for any digital project managers out there.
But this left me with no more sunlight hours once I arrived at my hotel. But I did stumble upon this little gem on my way from the Studio to my hotel.
Places to note, the Piccadilly Gardens are situated in the center of Manchester (or what I thought to be the center) and have shops, restaurants and bars surrounding it. Manchester also has its own Chinatown which is very oriental, as you would expect, with their own archway. The locals top tip for a good Chinese restaurant was to find one in Chinatown. Maybe next time!
Luckily for me, my brother decided back in January 2016 to work and live in Manchester, so of course we met up for some food and drinks. When your travelling on your own it’s always handy to know people to catch up with. But being my brother, he sent me the long way round to meet him. We had agreed, we’d meet at the Piccadilly station where his tram would get him. Instead his tram dropped him off at the Piccadilly Garden. Which, was so much closer to my hotel… So I ended up doing a rather large circuit to meet him.
But hey, it got my steps up! Once I finally managed to track my brother down, we found a lovely restaurant called the Yard and Coop back in the Norther Quarters. As you can probably guess from the name it was a chicken restaurant. One I would definitely recommend. I had chicken breasts smothered in bourbon sauce (try saying that without an American accent) with chips and a side of “Not chicken nuggets, chicken nuggets”, also known as breaded and fried halloumi cheese. My brothers beer came in a stein and my large white wine was definitely LARGE. Which equaled to a happy traveler.
After our meal we wondered to an interesting bar called the Cane & Grain. You will be able to identify this bar by the amount of skulls and skeletons that decorated it. Think of la Dias de muertos (Day of the dead) inspired deco and you’re half way there. We went for one of their light ales that tasted more like a lager. Again our pints came in a good sized stein. But this bar isn’t all it appears. No? Well it has a, not so secret, secret cocktail bar that you can only access through a hidden door. Cool right! Not even one of the locals I met knew about this.
Sadly after a few drinks our night was at an end. My brother had work in the morning and was recovering from a cold, and I had a day at a conference, a train back to London and a handstand and stretch class that evening. Busy busy.
On my way back to the hotel, another part of Manchester graced me with its quirkiness. Another wall full of images, which sadly, nighttime light doesn’t show up too well on a phone.
One of my favorite things about Manchester was the mix between the industrial buildings and the more modern architecture. The mix between the past and the present provides plenty for a wanderer to see. I would recommend more than 24 hours in this city, and preferably with an empty day to spontaneously wonder and explore, and eat.
The next day I woke up early to the usual grim British weather and made my way to the Comedy Store for a day of conferences. But I can happily say, I would definitely go back to Manchester to find more of it’s quirks.