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Manchester - city center - k.k photo

“Manchester was a really positive surprise for us. We had imagined it as a very crowded, very industrial city, but in fact, it has a real small-town ambiance. It also has a certain ‘industrial charm’, meaning that in spite of the unmissable industrial character, there’s an old-fashioned elegance to the buildings. There are also some very beautiful old landmarks in the city center, and the rapidly developing Media City is exciting in its own unique way.

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Manchester is a much cheaper, friendlier, and quieter metropolis than London.

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“I’m sitting in a big coat next at a large oak table on a wooden bench, sipping a pint of Guinness – they haven’t poured the head right. A northwest wind is blowing right through my scarf. Sometimes I shiver from the cold, but I do not betray my weakness; if other people are sitting outside, then I’m sitting outside too. 5 pm. It’s getting dark. No wonder, as it’s already mid-November. The cozy orange lights have been on in the small square for twenty minutes. Behind me is the murky water of the canal, to my right the water rushing through the sluice which has just been opened.

Above the narrow, bobbing houseboats, the canal is spanned in all directions by bridges of different periods and styles. Had I been brought here blindfolded, I might have said I was in Amsterdam, though the characteristic smell that pervades the city – most reminiscent of a mixture of engine grease and French fries – would have ruled out the jewel in Holland’s crown. I’m actually in Catalan Square, on the edge of downtown Manchester, sitting under the colorful umbrellas and listening to my teeth chatter. Cradling my beer, I wonder what images, feelings, and teachings I have taken from this city, which has been my home for almost half a year, and which I will leave behind in a few days.

Hopefully, nobody will be offended if I say that you don’t come to Manchester for natural beauty. The only geographical elevation comes from the frequent railway overpasses, and even by British standards, this place gets a lot of rain. That’s not strictly true – overall, Manchester doesn’t get much more total precipitation than, say, Rome, but what falls elsewhere as an occasional, torrential downpour lasting minutes, is drawn out here into endless hours of drizzle. When the temperature rises above 20˚Celsius for four days in August, or perhaps even the sun shines for an hour or two, the locals feel blessed with the most beautiful summer of the decade. So it is no wonder that the pub culture is so developed here – they say they couldn’t bear it otherwise.

The great thing about Manchester is that if I want a small town, it can feel like a small town, but if I want a big city, it can feel like that, too.”

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OK, it’s supposed to be grey and overcast with fine rain that hangs in the air waiting to ambush you when you walk up to it. Then against all expectations, the sun shines throwing people into a panic. The place from being a grim northern city takes on the air of Budapest in summer and the joint is definitely jumping. In fact in the student area, where we were, the joint would be the appropriate word as there is a definite air of herb on the streets. There are ten universities in Manchester with over one hundred thousand students and it has made the place very young and dynamic. OK, actually large universities I’d say are 5 or six if you include Salford which is a different place, sometimes very different. Please note that Salford is a different city. However, if you are not up to speed with the hidden boundaries you might be unsure which you are in, Manchester or Salford. In general, it's better to know. Salford used to be considered risky but like anywhere there is good and bad. . When boils down it Manchester is no longer a grim mercantile city, well up to a point. You don’t tend to find groups of lads in their clogs standing on street corners ready to give you a kicking. However better to stay away from some parts of town, did I hear somebody say Salford, was unfair. If you fly into Manchester airport there are trains to Piccadilly station which is pretty much the center of Manchester.

The center of Manchester is not very big and pretty much you can walk everywhere if you want. We arrived on a Friday night and it was absolutely heaving. You had to battle your way along to get where you were going. All pretty good-natured but with a bit of an edge. It was chilly but there was no shortage of lasses in crop tops and short skirts and lads in T-shirts. As I said Manchester center is small enough to walk around. On the first day, we walked up Oxford Road and down along the Rochdale Canal to Castlefield. “Castlefield is an inner-city conservation area of Manchester. The conservation area which bears its name is bounded by the River Irwell, Quay Street, Deansgate, and Chester Road. It's a nice walk especially if you like boats and 19th-century architecture, though there is plenty of modern stuff as well. Castlefield is the terminus of the Bridgewater Canal, the world's first industrial canal, built in 1764; the oldest canal warehouse opened in 1779. The world's first passenger railway terminated here in 1830, at Liverpool Road railway station[1] and the first railway warehouse opened here in 1831.” (WIKI) It's a nice area especially if you like industrial architecture and canal boats. The rail bridges overhead crisscross in a very impressive manner. Don’t get over-excited about the Roman remains, they owe more to the imagination than to archaeology, although the Romans did build a fort on the site. Another thing you might feel like seeing while your down that end is the Science and Industry Museum which includes the world's first-eve railway station, working steam trains, etc. Next to all, this is the Manchester ship canal. This was built when the import taxes levied by the port of Liverpool got too high and the burgers of Manchester decided to bring the sea to them via a large canal.

Next day the cultured people that we are going to the city art gallery on Mosley Street. An old imposing building, there are lots in Manchester, with a modern glass extension spliced onto the back. It is not huge but we particularly enjoyed the Lowry paintings, a local artist of the primitive school. We also had a look around the John Rylands Library on Deansgate. This is a fantastical building that has been likened to Hogwarts. Deansgate is one of Manchester's shopping streets and takes its name from the old Danes Gate because this is the direction the Vikings took when attacking Manchester. Just to extend the cultural damage to our feet we had a trip to Chetham’s Library. It is “the oldest public reference library in the English-speaking world established in 1653” (WIKI) It’s the only place that I’ve seen books so old and so valuable in the past they are chained to lecterns. Also, the library is famous as a place where Marx and Engels used to meet. There is a window alcove where they used to sit and plan the overthrow of Capitalism.

If you decide you like Lowry paintings it's worth getting the tram out to Salford Quays where the Lowry museum is. I might not have mentioned that most museums are free in the UK, (even after Brexit). If you get off a stop before the Lowry you can walk along the dockside of the old Salford Quays, well worth a stroll. We also tried to visit the Imperial War Museum on the other side of the dock. Not normally the sought of thing I would go for but I had been told it is very good and in no way glorifies war. It was Tuesday and it was shut, never mind.

Manchester has become famous for the so-called Northern Quarter, also called New Islington, but as someone remarked to me, ‘we know it’s Ancoats’ the first industrial suburb in the world. The area was as working-class as it could be but now it’s becoming gentrified. The North Quarter has become Hipster heaven with bars coffee shops and so on. It’s a good vibe but its popularity pushes prices up a bit. Although the main shopping street, Market Street, is the kind of street that could be anywhere it's redeemed by the number and variety of buskers on it. I particularly enjoyed the guy playing the Kora in Piccadilly Gardens at the top end of Market Street. Piccadilly Gardens owes more to concrete than garden but there is a rather cool fountain. Manchester doesn’t boast a lot of open spaces but St. Peters Square with its round library, reminiscent of the Parthenon in Rome is worth a visit. Also on the other side of the Library is St. Georges Square with the rather splendid Manchester Town Hall.

Another place worth seeing is the Exchange theatre, a glass and girder construction inside the old Royal Exchange building. You can see the boards listing which ship was bound were, leftover from when it closed as a place of commerce. Places to see The Lowry and Salford Keys John Rylands Library Town Hall Chetham’s Library Any of the Older Pubs and one or two of the newer ones.

Food: Fish and Chips. Don’t forget the mushy peas and malt vinegar Steak and Kidney pudding. If you’ve never had one you’ve never lived.

Entertainment: Royal Exchange Theatre Band on the Wall, rock, blues Hilary Step Jazz. Don’t forget museums are free, (mostly) Enjoy.

(Alan Durant, 2022)



Practicals

Transport

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Manchester - public bus - j.g. photo

Accomodation

,, We had an Air B&B just around the corner from Oxford Road Station so we went one step further. The Air B&B slept 4 people for one hundred pounds a day and it was pretty decent if a bit noisy being in the middle of things. The semicircular windows gave us a panorama of the revelers as they swirled past. (Alan Durant, 2022)

Food

,, Being pooped from our walk we ended up at Mr. Thomas’s Chop House for lunch. An extravaganza of green-tiled chandeliered intimacy it has been here for over 200 years. It’s never had to be fixed because it was never broken. There are not many places these days that evade the cultural vandals, desperate to up their profit margins but this is one of them. Of course, the food was traditional and my fish and chips were excellent as was the steak and kidney pudding my friend had and the Lancashire hot pot Eva had. Be aware though that the prices are a bit higher than I would normally expect for pub food, 16 pounds for the fish and chips. The fish and chips did look as if the fish had been harpooned rather than caught however and I couldn’t eat all of it. I nearly forgot to mention the mushy peas that accompanied it. This North of England specialty comes often in fluorescent green and appears to have been made by the same process they use to tread grapes in France. Don’t forget the chips, good enough to drive a nutritionist to distraction. All are served with salt and traditional malt vinegar. You can have Mayo or tartar sauce if you are a soft southerner but that’s up to you. (Alan Durant, 2022)

Manchester - lamb chop - v.d. photo

Shopping

Church Street and Arndale Shopping Complex

Selfridges is on a hight price level.

Manchester - Arndale Shopping Complex in the city center - k.k. photo

Fun

Chorlton, Levenshulme, and the Northern Quarter have lots of funky coffee shops and bars.

,, Manchester is famous for its great pubs Many are highly ornamented inside, Peveril of the Peak, The Marble Arch, Britons Protection to the more unusual, Temple of Convenience below ground in an ex-public convenience and good old fashioned The Castle, The Salutation, Lass O’ Gowrie, City Arms, The Old Nags Head. There are more pubs than you can stagger around probably over a period of several weeks and the ones that haven’t been messed up by modernizers are in general brilliant. Depending on what you’re looking for. I’d stay away from the student bars, however. Although there are cheap offers if you’re on a budget they tend to be a bit noisy for me. (Alan Durant, 2022)

Public safety

Manchester has pretty good public safety.
But: pickpockets are active in and around the train station and around Arndale. Visitors to football matches should also be careful in the dense crowd. Picadilly station at night is pretty dangerous.

Manchester - police - t.p. photo

Others

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Manchester - street art - p.a. photo

Background

Manchester - Piccadilly - the historic Joshua Hoyle & Sons' Warehouse (built) 1903 - 1904 - f.a. photo

Destination in brief

Manchester is a city in the northwest of EnglandManchester is 399 km (163 mi) north of London.

Population (in 2020): 396,000 - and 2.7 million in the Metro area - 25% Muslims (mostly Pakistanis) 

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 2750 USD (2070 pounds)

After London, Manchester is the largest English student city.

Nowadays

,, Manchester is a working-class city everywhere feels and looks depressing and run down and depressing. The buildings are all ugly, and all the houses are the same, all stuck together with red bricks and poorly maintained. The roads are full of potholes, and the city is filled with homeless people and drug addicts; it's dirty with trash everywhere, and dog poo smeared all over the pavement; it's disgusting. Some areas are horrible. People look miserable, sick, and depressed. Manchester is a complete dump." 

The text above is a quote and in no way an opinion of the website. Feel free to contradict in a comment.

Manchester - - b.b. photo

Manchester - l.e. photo

Tourist etiquette

1. Don’t wear a Liverpool football shirt. 

2. ,, Don’t get mixed up between Manchester and Salford Don’t go on about Manchester United in a Manchester City pub. If someone asks for money so they can get home walk towards where there are plenty of people. This guy often has a couple of mates around the corner waiting to jump you. What to do If someone asked you for money for seeds for his Gerbil give him 50p. Go to any of the old-fashioned pubs people usually are very friendly This is especially true of the Marble Arch, owned by the local Mafia they don’t allow trouble.(Alan Durant, 2022)

Attractions

Museums

National Football Museum:  the largest and perhaps best museum in the world on this subject

Castlefield Urban Heritage Museum:  very professional industrial history museum

Manchester - Museum of Science and Industry - b.b. photo

Churches

Manchester - Cathedral - f.a. photo

Manchester - - Cathedral - f.a. photo

Manchester - Cathedral - f.a. photo

Manchester - Holy Name (Catholic) Church - f.a. photo

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