Despite the many hours I spent in a bus last weekend, I packed my good old backpack again on Friday and got a train to Manchester- my first time outside of Scotland since the start of university in January! I picked that town for the simple reason that one of my old friends from my time at a High School on the beautiful Isle of Wight now studies at Manchester University, and I had made it a resolution to visit him at some point during my stay in the UK- what better time is there than on my birthday?! I obviously did not have any family and not many of my friends in Edinburgh, so having a party seemed unrealistic. Hence, treating myself to some quality time in “Cotton City” (due to its past as the British capital of cotton production) seemed just perfect 🙂
The train ride took around 3.5 hours- time I spent listening to an audiobook and chatting with the people around me. Also, the conductor of the train kept making the most hilarious comments, so the journey did not get boring at all. Since I had lectures in the morning, I took a train in the afternoon, thereby arriving in Manchester in the early evening. Harry, my friend, welcomed me at Oxford Road Station, and after dropping my luggage of at his place, we went straight to the student halls in the area Fallowfield, where we spent a nice and relaxed evening with some of his friends from uni.
On Saturday, which was my actual birthday, we spent the entire day exploring the city, which is simply my favourite way of spending my time! After some breakfast, we headed to Manchester Museum, as Harry wanted to show me his lecture halls and study rooms, which are located within the same building. The Museum is really cool! Firstly, the building is just amazing- beautiful, perfectly maintained and renovated architecture and interior. Secondly, the items exposed are really interesting- amongst others, there is a specimen exposed that is a mixture of a lion and a tiger!
Afterwards, we went into the city centre, where we spent quite a lot of time browsing through the numerous thrift shops! Honestly, they are great! If you are in Manchester, make sure to check some of them out; you will certainly find some good bargains. And even if you don’t, they offer a lot of nice opportunities for cool photos 🙂 Also, there is something about them that creates such a comforting and special atmosphere- the following picture sums up quite well how cosy it is to shop there: No, this is not my grandma’s living room 🙂
We also strolled over a cute little street food market at Picadilly Gardens, a big square which used to be a garden (hence the name), but is now far from being a green space. The food however, looked really delicious.
Moreover, we found an awesome book store, which even sold second-hand books as old as 200-300 years! I’d love to have something like that in my hometown, as well as I’d love to have enough time to properly look through all of them 🙂
As if this wasn’t enough, Harry also showed me the absolutely cutest chocolate shop I have ever been to:
The people working there were all dressed in pin-up dresses with ribbons in their hair, and they had an amazing coffee machine made out of copper. Naturally, we had to get some chocolate, which came in an adorable gold box. I had a vegan orange-flavoured praline, which was delicious.
Afterwards, we headed to a place called “The Federal“, a New Zealand and Australian restaurant and cafe which is incredibly popular. So popular in fact, that you even had to queue in order to get seated. The atmosphere in there, as well as the tasty food and coffee made up for that though! Also, I am a huge fan of rather limited menus, instead of being offered countless pages full of different dishes- it always makes it easier to choose 🙂
With satisfied tummies, we went to Chinatown, where I experienced a major throwback to Singapore while strolling through the shops and seeing all the products I used to get/ see on a daily basis. They even sold Tiger, the beer brewed in Singapore!
On our way, we saw a lot of impressive buildings, proving that ther eis more to Manchester than just the academic and the industrial aspect.
Then, we visited an old (very old!) library, and I believe I have never been to a more incredible library. We made a contest who could find the oldest book- we each found one that hat the year 1503 on its back, and there was a fragment of a paper that is from 200 BC! Also, there are study tables everywhere. How much more Harry Potter feeling could you get?
There were books as long as my legs- I’d love to get the chance to read one of them for a day.
We then visited the Museum of Science and Industry, where we got an interesting introduction to the production of cotton fabric. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to see everything the museum had to offer, since we had already made plans for the evening.
After doing some grocery shopping, Harry cooked dinner and we met one of his friends, before heading to a nice bar called “The Font” (It is definitely just as Hipster as many of the other places we visited 😀 ), where every cocktail only costs 2 pounds! And believe me, they are tasty, too, making it the perfect location for poor students 🙂
After that, we went to the city centre in order to get some more drinks at another bar called “Soup Kitchen” which was even more edgy, and so good. I fully recommend going there. They have great music, good drinks, a cool interior and there is a club just underneath it- hence, you don’t even need to change location for clubbing afterwards 🙂 Apparently, it is a great restaurant/ café during the day, so if you happen to be in Manchester only during daytime, you should still pay it a visit.
On Sunday, we slept in a bit and got some uni stuff done (as the perfect students we are…) before I headed to the Art Gallery, which not only is located within a very nice building in a cute little park, but also holds valuable works, amongst others painted by Andy Warhol.
I then did a nice walk through Plattfield Park, which is certainly ideal for a run, too! Also, there is a little pond in the middle, where you can encounter many swans and geese 🙂 I could also discover the first signs of spring, before I had to head back to Harry’s place.
At 3 pm, it was already time for me to leave Manchester again. However, I had an amazing time, and I will surely be back for more! I really enjoyed catching up, and it is always awesome to have a private tour guide 🙂
I truly recommend Manchester for a short trip- I think I have not seen more than I tiny glimpse of what this diverse city has to offer. Plus, it is amazing for students, as there are so many cool bars! 🙂
I am now back in Edinburgh, and I believe this concludes my travels for a while. However, I will naturally have a lot of other content to share, so make sure to stay tuned 🙂