Since I got to the UK I've been sure to take advantage of each weekend and travel as much as possible! Two weekends ago I spent three days in London, last week Manchester, and this Saturday we're headed to York. It's surprising how much the cities differentiate from one another despite being so close together. Each one has it's own unique feel. You'll find there will be things you absolutely love and hate about each place.
I found Manchester to be quite the bustling city. After seeing London only last weekend, I didn't expect to be overwhelmed by crowds, which is why I was so surprised that Manchester was so cramped. Culture was different there with people of all sorts in this artsy city. Shops and food stops were rather hipster, the walls along the street full of color, art, and graffiti, and it was apparent that people are very supportive of the gay community.
In all the places I've been so far, the attractions top the shopping, except in Manchester. You'll find thrifty pop shops with the oddest of things. Pay a visit to Pop Boutique and Cow Vintage and you'll see what I mean. I found the cutest vintage leather satchel in Cow Vintage for only 26 quid. (I'll have a post on this later)
I'm one who could spend the whole day window shopping if it's a great store. Some of my favorites were Oklahoma (see picture right), Paperchase, and Mango. Stationary is a huge thing here and Paperchase is the place to go. This store was 3 stories with restaurants and a coffee shop on the top floor.
The Northern Quarter is where you'll find shops, restaurants and art. It's just a 15 minute walk from the city centre where the high end shops and dining is.
I was so excited to explore Piccidilli Park, that is until I realized I already saw it... You can see in the photo below that the park is good for seeing pigeons, but that's about it. The park is literally a bunch of cement with a few potted plants beside the Saturday market in the city centre. Bit of a disappointment but maybe it's better in the Spring? (I doubt it haha!) Isn't Neysa adorable in these photos?!
Libraries haven't ever been something that I've found to be exciting, but it was quite the contrary in Manchester. We visited the John Ryland's Library which stands out amongst the rest of Manchester's city scape. The outside is almost as gorgeous as the inside, decked out with Gothic elements and sculptures. The surrounding buildings are modern and mostly made of glass, which makes the library nearly impossible to miss. Ryland's was designed to feel like a cathedral: stained glass, dim lighting, red carpet, and ceiling domes. You'll find yourself looking much more at the architecture rather than the actual books.
Another couple stops if you're a book-worm in Manchester is the Chetmas Library and the Portico Library. We weren't able to visit these two. Anything outside the city centre is too much to fit in for a day-trip, Manchester is rather spread out unlike London and Edinburgh.
We paid only one pound for a bus ride to the outskirts of Manchester, to see the Whitworth Art Gallery. It was ten minutes tops from the city centre. The museum features quite the variety with exhibits of textiles, plants, watercolors, portraits, and graphics.
When the bus arrived at 8:30AM in Manchester, I woke up and one word came to mind: coffee. I know you never saw that coming, but seriously, it's essential to having a successful day exploring a new city!
Luckily we stumbled across this a little hole in wall called the Federal Cafe and Bar. It was the perfect environment to plan out our day and grab a bagel and carrot cake with our coffee.
In between lunch and dinner my flatmate, Neysa, and I met up with her friend who's studying at uni in Manchester. She took us to The Black Dog Ballroom where we shared an appetizer and pizza while we rested our legs before shopping that evening. (picture middle, below)
Our bus didn't leave til 9PM on Saturday so we killed a couple hours at a joint near the bus station. Cabana is a Brazilian Barbecue with a really relaxing and fun atmosphere. I almost went to sleep on the balcony the hammocks are way too comfortable (if that's possible)! I'm so excited because Newcastle should be getting a Cabana soon, I'm crossing my fingers it's before I leave the UK!
When visiting Manchester, be sure to go with a plan and pay attention to distance between the locations you want to visit. It's not one of those cities you can meander around and see everything you want to. I'm be back blogging soon!