Monday, 26 August 2013

Manchester City

My husband and I are just back from our trip to Manchester city.  We were over for our friend’s wedding.  The city is great for a 2 to 5 day break.  This was my third and my husband’s second time there.

Piccadilly is the train station for the city itself and is a 10 minute walk from the Piccadilly Gardens which is a nice yet small green area with a fountain and some cafés.  It is situated on the corner of Market Street.  It was formerly called Lever’s Row and housed an infirmary from 1755 until 1910 and temporary housed a department of the Library before it was moved to the Manchester Central Library.  There is a statue of Queen Victoria on the green too that was erected by the people of Manchester in 1901. 
For those of you who love to shop there is the Arndale Centre which is situated on Market Street.  There is a giant Primark (Penny’s) too and for those who can afford to splurge a bit there are designer shops around the corner from the Arndale Centre such as Ted baker, Harvey Nichols and Louis Vuitton.  The Arndale Centres was the first American style shopping malls in England and the one in Manchester was the largest shopping space in Europe in 1971 when it was opened.  It was called the Wandsworth Arndale until it was redeveloped after the 1996 bombings.

Across from this there is the Manchester Cathedral which is a beautiful Gothic building.  Built over a period of 600 years it was hit by the “Blitz” bombings at Christmas time in 1940 and was repaired after.  Some of the flags and tapestries in the cathedral were singed and still are hanging with burn marks adding to history of the building.  It also survived the invasion of the Vikings.  The stained glassed windows are brightly coloured.  It is one of the oldest cathedrals in England.  The garden around it is nice and green. The archives from the Manchester Cathedral date back as far as 1421.
Real old fashioned hearty British cuisine at affordable prices can be hard to find, not in Manchester.  Literally beside the Cathedral is The Old Wellington Inn.  It’s a British pub that serves ales, stout, larger, beer, cider, wine and the most scrumptious food, pies of all sorts, curries, burgers, bangers and mash, chips and vegetable as well as yummy desserts.  Not only is the food, drink, staff and service great but the building has been there since the 1552.  Until a bomb on the city in 1996 the pub was situated on Market Street and rebuilt in 1997.  Then it was moved literally block by block and rebuilt where it stands today in 1999 to make way for the Arndale Centre.  In the 1800’s the pub was used as a space for making mathematical and optical equipment and a fishing shop on the other floors.  The pub is old fashioned and made from timber and has a very homely and welcoming vibe.
The Royal Exchange Theatre is fascinating.  A Victorian building brightly decorated in colours inside.  It has an octagonal main theatre where we saw ‘Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream’.  It has a bar, café, education lounge and craft shop, as well as an information desk selling programmes and then a ticket desk area.  Upstairs there is a gallery, a walkway showing art.  There is an area in front of the café which is a floor space used as a small stage.  It was used for the cotton trade before being used as a theatre.  It was hit by the “Blitz” bombings in 1940 and by the IRA in 1996.  Both times it was badly damaged.  The theatre was founded in 1976.  It is reported to be extremely haunted and was on Most Haunted on television. 

There are a lot of colleges in Manchester.
The Science museum founded in 1969 and the Aviation Museum are across from each other.  The Science Museum did a demonstration of how they used to make cotton in Manchester in the 1800’s and 1900’s.  They also had the first computer ever invented called “The Baby”.  The museum had a huge array of things from nature, inventors, engines, machinery etc.  In the Air museum they had many different models of planes including the AVRO plane and may more.  It showed the first car invented by Ford and how it changed from a 2 seater with no roof to a 4 seater with a roof and doors over just a few years.

The Manchester Art Gallery was opened in 1824.  It has something for every artist lover’s taste from Victorian, to Impressionist to Renaissance and Gothic art pieces.  The pieces were mainly paintings but there were lots of sculptures and glass, wooden, steel and clay pieces.  There is an African area and there was an interesting yet quite weird piece that was a man saying “Is this the end?” repeatedly.  There was a keyboard attached to a watering can with wires attached to many other things and making strange noises.  There was a nice but pricey gift shop and a nice café.

The Piccadilly Hotel, Manchester (a part of the Hotel Mercure chain) where we stayed was a minute from Piccadilly Gardens and a very affordable and modern hotel.  The staff were extremely friendly and the rooms nice.  The bar and breakfast area was spacious and with beautiful views of the city and the Piccadilly Gardens.  The only fault with the hotel was the lift took you to every floor before the one you wanted and it confuses me I have yet to stay in a hotel with a floor 13.  It went from 12 to 14.

Manchester is a must go for people looking for a city break.

Grace O’Reilly
24 July 2012