Yesterday, Jesse and I went to Leeds using some of our 20p train journeys, and today it was the turn of Manchester to visit! Manchester is well-known for birthing so much musical talent such as Oasis, Simply Red, and The Smiths, the ‘bee’, and two of the country’s biggest football teams: United and City. Speaking of football, today we visited Manchester’s National Football Museum and had a drink at the famous Hard Rock Cafe at the Printworks.
What’s Available: Manchester has a lot to offer, in fact so much that we struggled to visit more than two attractions in our seven hour visit! Take the football museum – up until last year it was free entry for anyone, but now it costs £8 for a student ticket, but included in that is entry for a year and additional free access to fun activities – we went on the target practice and the saving goals activities for example! I was expecting the museum to take an hour and a half to fully look around tops, but after two hours we had only just climbed the stairs to the third floor! It was a very interactive museum and films including a portrayal of British football in a month through the eyes of both local youth teams to the National squad were very insightful. In short, it was fantastic value for money.
There was so much more available which we did not get time to check out in depth; there’s various other museums which are free entry such as the Science and Industry Museum at Deansgate. You also have the huge Arndale shopping centre and Piccadilly Gardens, and this is just within the city centre. There is much more both in and out the city centre to see for yourselves, and you can find out the best places to go via travel websites like Trip Advisor.
Cleanliness of the City: Due to spending most of our time around Victoria Station / Northern Quarter, we did not see as much of Manchester as of Leeds, although from what we did see it appeared to be clean. Whilst in Leeds there are some areas with space and monuments, there is more open space in Manchester’s city centre, and you have green space at Piccadilly Gardens and in parts of Salford as well.
Ease of Way Around: Unlike Leeds which once had plans to introduce a Supertram system after originally stopping theirs in the 1950s, on top of trains and buses you can also use the Metro Tram system at Manchester to get around. For just £3.50 you can buy an all day ticket for Zones 1 and 2 (to put that into perspective, you can travel as far as Salford, MediaCity UK and Eccles and around everywhere in the city centre), and you can make as many trips as you want in the zones until the last tram of the day. You can also buy day tickets for all the zones (adding Zones 3 and 4 to your ticket); this only costs around a pound more than the fore-mentioned ticket. Trams are frequent as well; for a particular destination they are approximately every 10 minutes, and Metro stops are close to each other in the city centre, so you can easily walk somewhere then hop onto the trams the next. This was ideal especially as we had picked an especially cold and wet day to visit Manchester on – it snowed on the way up through the Peak District! ❄️
Food and Drink: We did not find an indoor market like Kirkgate in Leeds (it’s an indoor market with a mixture of commercial and worldwide cuisine stalls in it), but we did still find there were plenty of food and drink outlets in the little we saw of the city. It would be unfair to judge Manchester negatively on its lack of street food stalls, when we did not see enough of the city. The Printworks has a really good selection of both cheaper eateries like Wetherspoons and Yates, and fancier restaurants like Chiquitto and Frankie & Bennys. It also has a Vue Cinema and with tickets all day every day for £4.99, an evening at the Printworks needn’t be expensive; in fact presenting a cinema ticket at a number of the restaurants within the complex can get you a tasty discount on food!
After going to the bar in Las Vegas last November for the first time (a holiday I plan to write up about in the future), I had been wanting to visit a British Hard Rock Cafe for a while, so going to the one in Manchester was a must. Even better, after buying a T-Shirt and pin badge from the store (I buy a top and a pin from each location I visit), we had a drink and the atmosphere was AMAZING. I loved how they played old school rock videos and how you can look around all the memorabilia on the walls, and with it costing just £2 for half a pint of beer, it was pretty affordable too!
Concluding Thoughts: After visiting Manchester in the early 2010s as a teenager, I fell back in love with it today, and we definitely want to go back, albeit it for much longer than we got to go for today. That is a downside of the Northern 10p tickets; with the availability times for some legs of the journey, we have not been able to spend more than seven hours in one place, and for a huge cultural hub such as Manchester, it is simply not enough time.
The next place on our cheap train journeys is Harrogate, which we are going to on the 29th!