Today continues my look back at my European adventure that happened earlier in the year, with a special focus on tips and advice for travelers who are just as broke-ass as I am. After going nearly bankrupt in Copenhagen, I flew to Manchester, England. I knew very little about the city, other than it was supposed to be industrial and that it has a few famous football (or soccer, you can call it pudding for all I care) teams.
We arrived in the dark and, no, that's not a metaphor. It was after 10, and my friend and I were pretty cracked out from our Easy Jet flight, during which I'd accidentally left my passport on the plane, and had to run back like a lunatic. My favorite moment happened when I heard two ladies saying,
"What is he is running back for?"
" I think I saw him drop his pen."
Despite the rough beginning, we were welcomed to our hotel, a Days chain, with open arms. And more importantly: tickets for half-priced drinks. A quick change, and then a short stroll took us to the Gay Village, the largest concentration of LGBT bars, restaurants, clubs and stores I'd ever seen. Drinks were cheap: 3 pounds for a glass of wine, 6 pounds for a whole bottle, and the people were friendly. Plus, people were out on a Monday night, and I got to dance to "Like a Prayer," one of my all-time favorite songs. Manchester was officially awesome, and we hadn't even checked out the city yet.
We spent the next two days seeing the sights, and I was pleasantly suprised at the look and feel of Manchester. It was indeed industrial, but also very modern, with architecture that would rival Barcelona, as well as green public spaces, pretty hisotric buildings, a giant-ass mall, and a ferris wheel that was far less obnoxious than the London Eye. The city's laid back vibe reminded me of San Francisco and its working-class meets the arts mentality took me back to my days in Pittsburgh. It was far cheaper than London--lunch for 4 pounds, what a great deal--and the people way friendlier. So, Manchester and I became fast friends. She got me drunk every night, and let me dance in her streets. It's hard not to love a city that will do that for you.
Now, here's what you need to know...
1. The city's hotels can be expensive, so book on Hotwire.com. The city center is pretty compact, so it's hard to go wrong. Our hotel was a five minute walk from all the main attractions, and cost 70 bucks a night, as opposed to 130.
2. Sometimes the city will smell like poop. You don't have to keep checking your shoes, it goes away after a while.
3. Check out the Printworks, a fun entertainment complex, for a cheapo lunch at Henry J. Beans. Four pounds will get you a burger, fries and beer, wine or soda.
4. The Manchester Cathedral is free and cannot be missed.
5. Happy Hour at The View Bar in the Village: 6 pounds for an entire bottle of wine.
6. Monday nights belong to Club 101. One dollar cover and beers are a buck. The music is 80's and pop, and the crowd is fun.
7. Don't go to the club Poptastic if you are over 22. You'll feel Jurassic.
8. Set aside 4-5 hours to shop at Primark. It's like H&M meets Target, only better clothes.
9. The city is very walkable, and all the attractions are close to one another, so need to take trains or buses unless you have trouble walking.
10. Chinatown is pretty, but you won't find imposter cologne for a dollar, or any other cheapo deals.
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Mark Jason Williams
I find trouble wherever I go