i was in manchester for the weekend, for work, but being in one of my favourite northern cities was definitely nothing like work. once the commitments and responsibilities were out of the way, i was out on my own on the streets, keen to see as much as i could is less than 24 hours. thankfully, i already knew my way around a bit after the few short hours i spent there this same time last year. i had my list of things i had to see, so i hopped to it; here's what i discovered:
the christmas markets
i'm a big fan of christmas markets, this isn't news, but the uk ones are normally kind of naff. like, the southbank markets and the winter wonderland ones in london are all full of the same old rip-off tat, and there's never anything i want to buy (other than overpriced sausages and booze). so, it was a real treat to find that not only were the manchester markets some of the biggest and most varied in the uk, but they were really fricken awesome too. there were handmade treats and chargrilled meats and i didn't mean for that to rhyme, but kinda glad it did, and there were - wait for it, not just mulled drinks on offer! that's right, she who hates mulled drinks finally found a market willing to offer something other than the spiced drink that smells like hot vomit, and she was one happy bunny. for the record, my new winter tipple of choice is hot apple cider. yum, yum, yum!
it's just so walkable!
like yeah, ok sure there's tons of public transport (and carnival ride) options, and naturally the taxis and ubers of the northern world are a lot cheaper than those down south, but the absolutely best bit is: the city is so easily navigated by foot. the majority of the streets are in a really easy to follow grid-like arrangement, which makes it super easy to get lost, and then find your way back out again. plus, the buildings are all so pretty and architecturally interesting, that there's just so much to see on foot, making an afternoon of wandering a pretty leisurely activity, if i do say so myself.
the tastiest of sustenance
on my wander on sunday morning, i came across idle hands as i was keeping my eyes peeled for street art and gasping for decent coffee. one strong latte and a slice of pecan pie (with cream? no, thanks, i shouldn't. oh... well, go on then!) later, and i was feeling much more human. the once-train station coffee-ers are now popping up in their soon to be forever-home on dale street in the northern quarter, and the 'dawson leery crying at the end of the pier' framed print on the wall and i both insist you check them out. same goes for bundobust, who i first discovered in leeds. their vegetarian indian street-food menu is truuuuly the tastiest and healthiest thing you'll eat all year. plus: they have their own craft beer, so there's that. and they don't mind when you charge your phone or read your book in there much longer than your lunch lasted. so, thanks for that, bundobust. you da best.
the people are so niiiiice
this probably isn't news if you're from the north or ever been outside of london, but i am always shocked by how kind and generally nice people are outside the capital. from the hand-written and thoughtful christmas card, cakes, and bottle of prosecco in my room at the mercure piccadilly to the sweet christmas wishes scattered around the city, and the people who stopped me in the street to say they liked my hair, did i need help getting somewhere, was i looking for someone - there was generally just a really *lovely* vibe in the city. even the homeless - of which i noted there were a *lot* were banded together and sharing stories (and food, most importantly) and laughs, while those walking by stopped a lot more than i'm used to, to donate whatever they could to the cause. truly, just a nicer bunch of folk up north.
street art central
street art is the only kind of art that i really like, or get. i like how it says something, it has a purpose. it can cause change and create waves, and really ignite passions in those who see it, agree with it - or don't. it's more engaging than framed art hanging in galleries, and i always appreciate the effort that goes into creating complete wall-side murals or difficult pieces of art in really awkward places. it's come a long way on our streets since the awful and grimy tagging and "graffiti" of the 90s grunge scene, and now, is a well-respected and legitimate way to earn a living, build a career, promote a brand. i'm a magpie for colour, so gimme some bright colours and interesting concepts, and i'm sold. manchester's northern quarter has a totally eclectic and thriving street art scene, and so i spent my sunday wandering the cobbled lanes scoping out the clever art brightening up the brown-brick walls of the city. pure bliss, that.
have you been to manchester? what are you favourite things to do there?