Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Less Than 48 Hours in Manchester

When we made plans to visit Manchester, our friends told us we didn't need much time to for the city.

Good thing as we only had 48 hours and most of our time was going to be absorbed by the wedding and meeting with friends. Despite their naysaying, we had plenty to do in our limited time and fell a bit in love with this workmanlike Northern metropolis.

Whether you have 24 hours, 48 hours or even want to spend a little longer in this industrial city (gasp!) - here are a few of our favorite things to do in Manchester, the "Original Modern City".

Though my first trip was in late September for the big event, Ian's first visit occurred earlier that month. He had been invited to the bachelor party (or a "stag do" as the English call it) and I was thrilled he even made it home. During his absence, I distracted myself with a glorious weekend in Switzerland, but the bride and I couldn't help nervously checking in with each other whenever we were alerted that the guys were still alive.

Luckily, not only did they survive - they actually made a good dent of sightseeing in Manchester. The groom, a native, was the perfect guide and with their help we discovered many of the main attractions for a stag party or just visiting the city.

Visit Old Trafford

Cricket Match in UK

The centerpiece of the Stag party was a Cricket Match at historic Old Trafford. Best known as the home of Manchester United, they watched a special one day match between England and Australia.

Though England lost the match, the guys won with many, many rounds of beer and a beer snake. Yes, a beer snake. Whether you are here for cricket, socc- I mean football, or just a tour - the stadium is a must-see.

Cricket Sports Match in Manchester England
Beer Snake

Food & Drink in Manchester

English food gets a bad rap, but eating is a highlight of any trip we make. When vising the UK we eagerly anticipate fish and chips, pies, curries, ales and even mushy peas.

English cuisine in Manchester UK
Manchester Koffee Pot
Proper English Fry-Up at the nostalgic Koffee Pot

Albert Square Chop House Manchester
Albert Square Chop House - Corned beef hash cake with a poached egg & brown sauce

Beer in the UK
Port Street Beer House - Ales!

Bringing the cheddar back to Berlin

For more English favorites, try the Eating London Food Tour with tons of great English dishes and places.

Architecture of Manchester

Again the Engs downplayed their city, saying it wasn't the most spectacularly beautiful. Obviously they are unfamiliar with the vast wasteland of American strip malls. As much as I love Seattle, I deplore how we tear down anything slightly run-down and build the same new corporate stores over and over.

Manchester has both the modern and the slightly ancient and I love the contrast.

The Shakespeare

Manchester Town Hall - Albert Square
Albert Square Fountain

Manchester Town Hall on Albert Square

Graffiti in Northern Quarter

Manchester Chinatown

Modern Britain

Midland Hotel (or where Rolls met Royce)

View from the Mercure Hotel


Manchester Highlights:

  • Albert Square Chop House Manchester
    Kilts party harder
    Visit Old Trafford - Whether for a cricket match, to see Manchester United play, or just to tour the stadium. If you can, make a beer snake.
  • Drink Ale - We've long mourned the lack of ales (particularly IPAs) in Berlin so whenever we cross into the UK we go straight for the ales. We drank at the Albert Square Chop House where the wedding was held, modern Port Street Beer House, and Ian got as drink in the wonderfully traditional Britons Protection. We also tried the oft recommended Northern Quarter, but as we arrived late in the evening only clubs were open and Ian was refused entrance for wearing shorts. American fail.
  • Eat Curry - If we had time, we would have gone to Manchester's Curry Mile. Surprising to many newcomers to the UK, curry is more popular than any traditional British food and chicken tikka masala is considered the British National dish. If you can't make the Mile and the Engs say "the best curry in Manchester City Centre and maybe the UK?!" near downtown is Akbar.
  • Look for kilts! - Though not quite in Scotland, kilts showed up to the wedding and Ian pointed out that 100% of the kilt wearers stayed all night. Kilts party harder.
  • Get Cultured -Engs recommend MOSI, PHM, John Rylands Library
  • Midland Hotel - See the building where Rolls met Royce. It is truly a stunner and apparently left quite an impression on Ian as he told me this is building where "Rolls met Royce" about 100 times.
  • Long Legs in Chinatown
    China Town  - Check out the impressive gates, eat some food, and don't forget to take a look at Long Legs. Just because it was closed during the stag party (whew!), doesn't mean you can't go.
  • Explore the Gay Village around Canal Street - This lively area we also didn't have time for but you can be certain we will visit and take part in the gay loving on our next visit. Manchester Pride in late August is supposed to be legendary.
  • Protest - The wedding couple was quite distressed to find that the conservative party was in town for the weekend, but we enjoyed checking out the liberal counter-protest. As a workman's city, Manchester is often maligned by it's powerful southern neighbor but the city is not one to take it lying down. 
  • Check out the water & architecture of Salford Quays –  Near the Manchester Ship Canal, this area is one of the first and largest urban regeneration projects in the United Kingdom.
  • Go see Abe - A statue of Lincoln is hiding just beyond Albert Square.
  • Visit Afflecks - Cool sculpture outside this funky shop that has everything from top hats to tattoos. 
  • Eat EVERYTHING - If you aren't forever full of Berlin's doener, try the best kebabs in Manchester (again - Eng tested) at Hunters BBQ & Asian Take-Away. You can also soak up the booze with a tasty and calorie-life-shortening "fry-up" at the Koffee Pot.
  • Bring home some English flavor - While we were visiting in late September, we happened upon the Manchester Food & Drink Festival. Among the glorious options of pies, curries and churros (?) - we bought a few things to take home. Learn from our mistakes, cheese can be flown home on carry-on (even EasyJet!), but HP Brown sauce cannot. 

Why not engage in some peaceful protest in Manchester?

Explore the city at night

Albert Square Chop House Manchester
"God is a Manc" which I originally read as "God is a Mange". Slightly different meaning


John Lennon Airport

As a bonus, some of EasyJet's cheapest rates from Berlin are often through Liverpool's airport which is just a 45 minute bus ride away (bus tickets can be purchased for about 12 pounds return at the airport). This offers the perfect opportunity to do a dual Liverpool/Manchester trip, as well as see the yellow submarine at the airport. Yes - really.

UK Airport

 Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Ian & Liverpool's Yellow Submarine

Our friends were wrong that we would only need a weekend in the city. We have plans to return for a few weeks next summer, and I just got back from a work trip in London. Apparently we can't get enough of the UK.

Have suggestions for our next UK trip? Which northern towns should we put on our list? What else do we need to see in Manchester?


We did it! We returned to Manchester and the North for 2 weeks in the summer of 2014 before baby makes its big debut. There will be an upcoming post on all the places we went (Edinburgh, York, Port Sunlight..) and what we loved about Manchester. For now, a video overview: 


Unknown said...

Manchester looks great, I have been wanting to visit for a while! Great post :)

Unknown said...

@Sammy - Thanks! We had such a great time & can't wait to return. Go & tell us what you think

Unknown said...

Nice hotels listening.. Thanks for sharing
Best curry in Manchester

Clare said...

Nice write up of your time in Manchester :) You even got two sunny days!
As for next time - Liverpool is nice for a wander around nowadays if you're going that way and you could also go a bit further north. First to Blackpool, an old seaside down (most people have love/hate relationship with Blackpool but I like it!) or go further north to the Lake District.

(btw Easyjet goes direct from Berlin to Manc too :) )

Unknown said...

Glad you enjoyed Clare & thanks for the tips. We are excited about an extended trip to the north this summer and will definitely put these spots on the list. :)

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008