Here’s your forewarning; my blog posts will have a major lack of photos until I figure that out – look at Facebook or Instagram for photos!
What I did not realize about Manchester is what a great central location it has within the UK.
It’s two hours by train from London, 1.5 hours from the Lake District, 1 hour from Liverpool and 2 hours to Edinburgh! How convenient, right?
Our itinerary was as follows:
We arrived Friday, February 15th around 8:00AM after an efficient 8 hour non stop flight from Atlanta on Delta. I got to fly business class for the first time – with lie down beds and a four course meal!!
We were fortunate to stay at the beautiful, 4 star Midland Hotel in downtown Manchester, Midland Hotel – better known for business travelers because it is directly in front of the convention center (Manchester Central) but truly a great location for families (saw many of moms with ‘buggies’) and couples, too.
The staff were always helpful, courteous and anxious to meet our needs. When you’re traveling with a group of travel consultants you expect all our expectations to be set very HIGH! There wasn’t a complaint in our group of twelve. The rooms were larger than anyone could have expected for Europe, the bathrooms were renovated and modern, the beds comfortable and breakfast more than plentiful! P.S. The coffee was good 🙂
After we freshened up (another plus, our rooms were ready within an hour of arrival), we walked a few blocks to Albert’s Chop House for a fabulous upscale pub lunch, I had the hominy pie and lemon syllabub; two things I’ve never tried before both delicious!
We then boarded a coach to make the hour drive to Liverpool to start our Magical Mystery Tour of where the infamous Beatles came from! The Cavern Club runs a tour, where the guides have actually been used in movies made of the Beatles members! For a non-fan, I thought the tour was interesting. I liked seeing where John Lennon and Paul McCartney grew up.
We had a really nice dinner that night at a restaurant in downtown Liverpool that I of course cannot remember the name of. My tip for those going, keep in mind that Europeans dress for all occasions especially for dinner though. We all felt a little dumpy when we saw the fashionable outfits being worn, think dresses, sharp suits, very trendy items!
I slept like a rock the first night, of course. Exhaustion and time changes do that to you!
Saturday started bright and early as the Midland arranged for grab & go breakfast boxes and we began the 1.5 hour drive to the Lake District! This is the day I was most looking forward too! Scenery, water, pub food, what more could I ask for? 🙂
We spent about four hours with a stop at a cute pub for lunch (sandwiches,soup, fresh bread and of course FISH AND CHIPS!!) driving through the windy, hilly roads taking photos as we wanted, breathing in the fresh air, petting the dogs that everyone seemed to have. I bought freshly made jam and gingerbread from a small (actually a British man in front of me said “this is what we call quaint!” as an American I’d call it tiny) 150 year old store that Tom Cruise purchased from not to long ago also!
We had the best driver and guide from Mountain Goat Tours. I’d highly recommend this company if you only have a day! I could have spent a week there; walking the hills, hiking, reading a book by the various lakes, enjoying the adorable little cottages you can rent, eating homemade comfort food…it’d be pure heaven and peace. My cell phone didn’t work there!
We all took a nap on the ride home, we freshened up before going to Cloud23 Bar at the Hilton Manchester. What a neat bar, reminds you of something in Las Vegas with one elevator going the 23 stories up for spectacular views of the city! There was plenty of space to sit with friends and have a drink or two. I thoroughly enjoyed the champagne they served us!
Dinner that night was a five or six (I think we all lost count) course meal at Yang Sing, a very popular Chinese restaurant. The food was fresh and filling, we could not believe they kept bringing more and more food out!
Sunday, our last full day in Manchester, we started a bit later, you know 9:00AM 😉
We began with a two hour walking tour of the city, learning all about it’s history. Maybe you think like I did…that Manchester is an industrial city. And that is very true of it’s past. What’s so neat now is the mix of old and modern, the historical brick buildings mixed in with the contemporary glass architecture.
Manchester’s water comes from a canal that is man-made…it also has a lock system and a modern wheel & pulley system bridge; I wish I would have gotten to see it in action!
We stopped at the Museum of Science and Industry which is perfect for families with young children! Adults might find it a bit boring. Although we did see the Imperial War Museum and I cannot recommend it enough! What a beautiful, beautiful museum …it encompasses wars from all of the world. Very touching.
The highlight of this day was our stadium tour of Old Trafford, home to Manchester United. I wish I could put into words the pride our tour guide exuded for his team. His daughter was married there (anyone can be married there!), he even plans on having his ashes scattered there (this too is allowed)!
It was the most in depth tour I personally have experienced especially in a sports stadium. The allow you to go through the same tunnel the players do when being announced, playing the music for you and all!
My personal highlight: standing in the same room that Victoria and David Beckham met…the player’s lounge!
Dinner this evening was at Rosso Restaurant, owned by one of ManU’s players and housed in an old bank – very contemporary Italian restaurant. I would give the food a 3 out of 5 though.
I came back to our hotel, packed up and tried to sleep!
It was a quick but completely worth it trip! I truly cannot wait to go back and spend more time shopping! They have an area called the Quay which is a fabulous outlet mall!
Little known facts:
The Midland Hotel is where Rolls and Royce first met!
Hitler was very specific that the Midland Hotel did not get bombed, he thought it was beautiful and would have liked to live there.
While above I wrote Quay, the Brits pronounce it Keys
Like most of Europe, tipping is not necessary and they are shocked when we do so
Starbucks sizes: Tall, Grande, Venti are the same everywhere you go 😉