Man-oh-Manchester. What a place! I think it is going to be difficult to articulate just how much I loved this city because I can’t pinpoint exactly what makes it feel so awesome but I see this just as another credit to this great city because there is so much that makes it great.
I arrived around 1am into my hostel, following my ferry back from Dublin and then the short drive from its industrial sister city, Liverpool. This was my third YHA hostel and I have to say, they really are great places to stay. They’re so central and convenient and for the money, you couldn’t stay anywhere more central that can compete. Plus there is free parking and they all have meals and drinks served, if you’re not in the mood to cook for yourself. If anyone is thinking of doing a similar trip or even just a weekend break, I would highly recommend them.
As always, I started my day by wandering the streets and this is when I get my feel for a place and I literally walked around Manchester with a smile on my face. Whereas Liverpool seemed to try too hard to be cool, Manchester just manages it effortlessly. It has used all of its old industrial buildings and railways to showcase what made the city great and what its foundations are built on. The Museum of Science and Industry is just one testament to how industrial beauty can be used to really help, inspire and teach local and honest history.
One thing I could pin point about Manchester was that it seemed to remind me of Melbourne in a lot of ways. I brunched in Federal Cafe, which leans towards Australia and NZ in style and cuisine and whist eating my smashed av on sourdough (oh how I’ve missed it), I was relaxing and reminiscing just as trams were passing the window, just like Melbourne. I was in Australia hipster heaven and I could quite easily have been in Northcote or Fitzroy, if it wasn’t for the Arndale Centre car park directly across the road.
There always seems to be something going on in Manchester as well and Albert Square, like Federation Square in Melbourne is a host to a number of events and festivals which are showcased year round.
Walking the canals was just a pleasure in itself. Despite the fact that sadly, they are filthy and full of rubbish, it was still very relaxing meandering through the city with the odd canal boat making an appearance from time to time.
Perhaps one potential let down for me was that it wasn’t easy to take a nice photo. Again, compared to Liverpool where I could take an abundance, I felt for all its edginess and natural chic, it wasn’t stunning to look at. Some of the buildings were grand and gave a nod to the many hundreds of years of history the city was built on but perhaps the layout didn’t lend itself to a cracking photo. Perhaps there has been so much development that the place was a little too cramped, so you couldn’t take a step back and take a great shot.
However, this was balanced with the amount of amazing street art, which you could see around most corners, especially in the Northern Quarter. Having grown quite accustomed to some phenomenal street art in Melbourne, I do always seek it out wherever I go and I found it in abundance in Manchester.
Manchester street art
Speaking of art, the galleries and art museums in Manchester are fantastic. There is so much to see and so much is free, like around most of the world. (It is so easy to fill your days being completely enriched in so much culture and not have to pay a penny. We are so lucky to have so much readily available to us wherever we go.)
My second day in Manchester was spent with a very good friend (who I’ve known since I was 18) and we traversed a number of excellent galleries, museums and also the John Rylands library which is absolutely breathtaking on the inside.
Even after all these places, I still feel that we didn’t cover everywhere the city had to offer. Choosing somewhere to eat was really quite difficult, as there is so much choice and where we did go to eat was simply delicious.
Overall, I feel like I’ve not even touched on what makes this City feel so great but it has a certain je ne sais quoi which really appealed to me. A lot like Bristol did and I’m struggling to consider which one I prefer but I really have enjoyed Manchester and would return in a heartbeat and even taking the opportunity to sample the nightlife (which I’m still not ready to do after Dublin!) or take in a show, would add a whole new element to such a great place.
Even the occasional tourist sign made me laugh.
For my whole Manchester photo album and all the photos of my trip so far, please like Wadergrin on Facebook and enjoy.