Next stop after London, MANCHESTER! A city I had yet to explore, and a city I actually hadn’t heard or learnt that much about, other than the Manchester United Football Club.
The interesting question that was posed to me when I arrived at a walking tour in Manchester was; “Hi, so what brings you to Manchester?” Interesting that the tour guide has to ask this to almost everyone on the tour at the start. You wouldn’t dream of asking the same question as a tour guide working in London, New York, Paris, even Sydney. It’s quite obvious for the majority of people- simply to see the city, for tourism. But in Manchester, the majority of people had answers such as mine; visiting friends who live here, or others such as going to shows/concerts/gigs, a particular exposition at one of the many free museums etc. It’s not such a tourist hub, as a little gem filled with culture and character.
The train from London to Manchester was easy enough (far easier, I’m sure than the trek out to Southend Airport which I willingly passed up. I was lucky enough to be picked up by my mate Adrienne, and after almost 15months apart, it was as though no time had passed. A quick tour around town (en route to her place) and we stayed in for an early night with the view of waking up early the next morning and heading up to the Lakes District.
Driving through the English Countryside was like an absolute dream, like driving through a movie set, with Lake Windemere blossoming through the clouds upon our arrival. It was spectacular. We met up with Adrienne’s cousin and her family, and wandered through the quaint little town in the mist, filled with amazing stone architecture and cobbled streets. After a drive and a quick snooze, a night out on the Mancunian town was just what was needed, followed by a very lazy Sunday including watching the Manchester United Football Club in a little British Pub like a proper Mancunian (how great is the world Mancunian??)
My favourite building in Manchester, hands down, would have to be the John Ryland’s Library. Be prepared to be taken back in time (back to the 18th centure if you visit the antique toilets), or into a Harry Potter film. It was spectacular and had some impressive exhibitions, including the colour of alchemy- how they made the coloured ink for these antique books, and even holds a piece of what they believe to be the oldest version of the New Testament known to man. Was a great spot to get out of the rain and wander for hours. Genuinely would have stayed longer if it weren’t closing!
Manchester is also the site of musical history, where they are exceptionally proud of the bands and gigs that came from and were held in Manchester. In fact, it is what has led me to read the book “I swear I was there; The gig that changed the world”, entailing the history of the Sex Pistols gig at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, where approximately 40 people attended but was simply history in the making and paved the way for the new generation of artists. Another interesting phase that my tour guide believes to have occurred is the “fresh Manchester” or the renewed Manchester. After what was the devastating event in 1996; the bombing by the IRA, there are often two sayings thought to be said by most Mancunians; 1). It was amazing that no one died in a bombing of that size, and 2). It was the best thing to have happened to the city. It gave it a chance to regenerate, start from scratch and create the city into somewhere inviting and where people want to come and visit. Currently, there is a bit of an exhibition held all over the city; the bees. Each bee has been designed and painted by a different person or group, some famous, some local people. The bees are supposed to represent the Mancunian people, busy working and moving about the city, contributing to the greater hive that is Manchester.
Next stop… Edinburgh!!