We had originally planned to travel directly from Dublin to London, but we had some free time before Glastonbury so we decided to squeeze in another British city. After debating between a few options we settled on Manchester, and we’re both so glad we did. Despite only having two days in the city, we had beautiful weather and loved wandering around.
Manchester has a lot of character: we saw tons of interesting street art on every corner and there are lots of extremely cool, well-dressed, tattoo-covered hipsters roaming about. Our hostel was in the Northern Quarter which is full of bars, gastropubs, trendy restaurants, and cafes serving avocado toast, so we felt right at home. We arrived on a Saturday night and even though we weren’t able to go out for dinner until almost 10 after a long day of ferries and train rides, the city was just coming alive at that time and we got to do some fantastic people-watching. There were groups of lads in matching Hawaiian shirts chugging pints, girls in their best club attire gathered at the fish and chips shop, and drunk people smoking outside bars shouting over one another to tell stories. It was everything I imagined a night out in England would be.
I think it helped that we arrived in the middle of a heat wave: it was almost 90 degrees and sunny our entire time there, which is much too hot for the folks who live there but was great for us after the cold and rainy week we’d had in Ireland. We spent a lot of time just lounging and people-watching with some ice cold ciders at Piccadilly Gardens, which was ridiculously crowded with groups of friends hanging on the grass and getting some much-needed vitamin D.
One thing that really impressed us about the city was how friendly the people are - from the girls I chatted with in the fitting room queue at Primark to a friendly bartender who went out of his way to help us pick drinks at a bar he didn’t even work at, everyone was enthusiastic, welcoming, and friendly. In the aftermath of the horrific Manchester Arena attack, we didn’t really know what to expect or what the mood of the city would be. We saw no cowering in fear, no letting evil win - Mancuinans are a strong, tough bunch and the city’s sense of pride and togetherness was really evident during our short stay.
I wish we had had a chance to spend more time in Manchester - we really only got to spend time in the neighborhoods close to our hostel and while there was plenty to do, the city has so much more to offer. We would have loved to catch a Man U game or experience some of the city’s other districts but simply didn’t have the time. Even so, we were thoroughly impressed by the bits we did get to experience, and we hope to return in the future.