posted by Brett
So now that we've gone over the reasons for my adventure over the Atlantic to Europe, it's time to get down to the nitty gritty; into the details of what I actually did and where I actually went.
Starting at the beginning seems to make the most sense, so where did I start? The home of the Gallagher brothers, The Smiths, Joy Division and seemingly endless amounts of influential rock 'n roll bands: Manchester England. And why did I start there? Simply because it was the cheapest flight I could find! 285 dollars from Alberta to England? Yes please! (Seriously, check out http://www.canadianaffair.ca// if you're looking to fly from my homeland to the Queen's.)
So, what's there to do in Manchester as a tourist? Some would say not that much. In fact, many locals I met along the way asked me what the hell was I doing in Manchester. Well, despite the fact that there may not actually be that many attractions to visit, it is still worth checking out. First of all, the town features one of the most interesting and intense rivalries in all sports, especially in football (soccer). Even if you're not that into the sport itself, like myself, I found it very interesting to talk with people about which side they were on (United or City), and why. Also visiting the stadiums these two storied teams play in is a cool trek. Just don't be surprised by how far Manchester United's stadium, Old Trafford, is out of downtown Manchester, which is one reason why many people within the city are bigger fans of City, the club.
Side note about the rivalry: if you don't really sit on one side of the fence or the other, or aren't willing to literally fight for your team, best to leave your red or light blue shirts at home or in your backpack to avoid being mistaken for a fan of the wrong club in the wrong bar. Actually, good luck getting into a bar in those colors. Many pubs post signs saying "no club colors allowed" simply to avoid the trouble of a guy in a red shirt deciding to beat up on a guy just for wearing a blue shirt.
Also, if you're willing to do a small side adventure via train to a nearby town, visit Stockport. It's home to an old WW2 bomb shelter that you can tour through, and see what it was like for those hiding out, trying to keep themselves and their families safe during air attacks. It's a sobering experience, but well worth the trek if you're at all interested the history of the War in that part of the country. They also had some pretty interesting, and sometimes weird, propaganda posters hanging in the shelter. I personally enjoyed this one:
And finally my favorite thing about Manchester is that it has a ton of my two favorite places: record stores and pubs! When I'm visiting a new city I like think about whether or not it would be a cool place to live. And because of those two things Manchester definitely would be. If you're into collecting music, or vinyl records, or rock 'n roll in general, this town, and especially the Northern Quarter, is for you. My personal favorite was a store called Vinyl Revival.
If you like beer, this is also the place to be with a plethora of places to grab a pint. My personal favorite, and the place I ended up I believe every night, is called the Old Castle. It is just around the corner from my hostel, Hatters Hostel in the North Quarter (which, by the way, is a perfect place to stay in town). I'd recommend 3-4 days to check everything out in Manchester, but you can probably rush through it all in just a couple.
Ps. If you're into graffiti, Manchester is packed with tons of cool stuff. This was my personal fav: