Monday, October 22, 2007

Seeing nothing in Manchester

“There is nothing to see in Manchester,” says my colleague as we touch down at the airport.

So I head for the streets anyway. It may be true that Manchester is a bit of a random city with no real centre or any of the spectacular sights that London has to offer, but it’s still fun to get lost in any city in the UK. There’s always a quaint little alley or at least a pub with good grub.

A few more adventurous colleagues decide to join me and soon we find ourselves next to the ‘Wheel of Manchester’ which caught our eye from afar. Six pounds later we’re on it and getting a 360 degree view of the Manchester skyline which sports at least a church tower or two. Ah, how I love to watch the world from above. The real thing is so much better than Google Earth.

Soon we find out that the Wheel is in fact transportable and only arrived in Manchester a few months ago. It’s the same one that used to be in Paris at the Champs Elysee for the last few years.

Ten minutes of enjoying sweeping sights left us feeling ravenous. We don’t have to walk far. Just around the corner we find a traditional pub that dates back to 1950, with colourful flowers in front of the windows. We’re all smiles for finding such a gem.

The specials board next to the bar at the Old Wellington says: “Try our traditional fish and chips” and I’m not in the mood to argue. While my colleagues’ chicken with bacon and cheese look pretty good, I am well happy with my beer battered fish. It’s been a while since I had some good chips too (I really can’t do McDonalds) and I smother them in salt and tomato sauce.

Of course, I can’t finish the large portion, especially considering that I am knocking it back with a pint. Of Strongbow and blackcurrant, not beer. My friend Kim in London introduced me to this drink and I have been happily guzzling it on all my UK trips. It’s not that I don’t drink beer, but I prefer Belgian.

With our happy tummies, we take to the streets of Manchester once more. We get lost and find ourselves again. We discover some wonderful wine bars next to the canal (definitely the neighbourhood where I would hang out should I ever live here) and end up at The Salisbury Ale House. We didn’t know that it was the most popular Goth bar in Manchester but we sure had an interesting time amongst the S&M wall decorations and studded black leathers.

We walk back through Canal Street where “Only Fools and Horses” was filmed. The comedy was recently voted Britain’s best in a poll by BBC. There are fairy lights in the trees along the walkway and festive people inside the numerous bars and clubs.

It starts dripping and we congratulate ourselves on our good timing. By the time we get back to the hotel the rain is making soothing sounds on my window pane and I sigh happily.

So there, what a wonderful day of seeing nothing in Manchester.

1 comment:

pierre said...

Agreed, Google Earth does not top the view from any aircraft or anything "high" looking down on the earth, but broadband and Google Earth gives some escape for the average pencilpusher with a urge for travel