Manchester: More Than Memories

My encounters with Manchester had been fleeting, confined to a single day, an evening, or a wild night out. That was until now.

Certain memories stand out vividly, while others have faded into the depths of time. I recall the year '79 when I journeyed to Manchester to fetch a Scissor Lift, loaded it onto a flatbed truck, and drove it all the way to Anglesey. I felt a sense of coolness, cruising with my Ghetto Blaster playing Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" cassette. The lyrics of Nizlopi's song remind me of those days. Fast forward to 1980, and I found myself at the Manchester Apollo, watching Adam & the Ants. My father, in his spare time, drove concert buses, granting me the privilege of attending gigs at an early age. The Apollo welcomed me again in '81 for Toyah, '84 for U2's Unforgettable Fire Tour, and '85 for The Smiths' Meat is Murder Tour at the Palace Theatre. You get the idea; I am undeniably a bit older now.

In 1989, I "borrowed" my dad's Vauxhall Cavalier SRI to witness Nottingham Forest play in the FA Cup in Manchester. That night, we parked among Man Utd fans, and let me tell you, it was quite an intimidating experience.

As the '90s dawned, certain memories fade into a haze. I remember M-People at the GMEX in '94, but anything related to the Hacienda and those legendary nights eludes my recollection. It's as if I purposefully locked those memories away.

Now, the focus shifts to Manchester with teenagers in tow. Teenage girls, to be exact.

"We're going to Manchester for a few days," I declared.

Managing teenagers is no small feat, and I salute all of you out there who have braved this challenge.

With a reasonable £14 return train ticket, we landed in Manchester, staying three nights at the Premier Inn Manchester Central. Location is key, and this hotel nails it. It offers cozy beds and a hearty breakfast, a perfect place to rest our heads between adventures. I'm not one to splurge on fancy hotels when all we need is a place to sleep. Plus, it’s excellent value for money. Bags tossed into the room, we ventured out into Manchester's rain-soaked streets. Food was the first order of business. We headed to Chinatown for a feast, finding ourselves in the Dragon Oriental Restaurant, swayed by the stream of Chinese patrons heading in. It turned out to be an excellent choice. We ordered a banquet, recommended by the elderly gentleman in charge, and we sat there munching for hours. Dragon Oriental Restaurant 

We also booked the first entertainment for the teenage girls: the Immersive Gamebox. Squid games were on the agenda, and off we went to the Arndale Centre to play. Naturally, we all participated, and it was a blast. After the games, the girls wanted shopping therapy, so we headed to Brewdog to sample some beers. Later that night, they decided to watch The Exorcist at the cinema, while we opted for beers and the Champions League.

The next morning, after a much-needed breakfast, we stepped out into Manchester's rare blue skies. Our mission for the day was to walk off the previous night's indulgences. As the early morning fog rose, it was going to be a sunny one.

We started at the John Rylands Library, an enchanting place that felt straight out of a Harry Potter film. Surprisingly, the teenagers loved it too!

We strolled past the Old Wellington Pub and Sinclairs Oyster Bar, two iconic establishments with rich histories, on our way to the National Football Museum.

Fortunately, two of the teenage girls were passionate about football, so they thoroughly enjoyed exploring exhibits related to women's football and Jude Bellingham. The museum's entry fee included a year's pass, making it well worth the money.

From there, we wandered to the up-and-coming area of Ancoats in search of lunch.

Finding limited options, we headed to the Northern Quarter, Manchester's hip and trendy district. I have a soft spot for graffiti in any form.

For lunch, we stopped at the Bay Horse Tavern, renowned for serving the best Fish Finger sandwiches in the world, along with the most delectable beef dripping triple-cooked chips. After a few beers, we continued our exploration. If you're a beer enthusiast, Manchester boasts pubs to suit every taste.

For the evening's entertainment, we booked a session at The Crystal Maze, the very one from the TV show in the '90s. It was an original set, and being inside it was an incredible experience. After running around, solving puzzles, and challenging our minds, we returned to the hotel for food, beers, and much-needed sleep. Yes, the beds at the Premier Inn are incredibly comfortable.

Morning came, and we set off to Salford Quays, a short trip on the efficient public transport system. A rainy wander through the Quays brought us to the Lowry Museum.

Despite exploring the Quays, we missed capturing the iconic Salford Lads Club photograph; well, there's always next time.

We also visited the Imperial War Museum in the area, a small yet exceptional museum that felt neither stuffy nor boring. The exhibits were poignant, resonating deeply in today's world, where it feels like war is all around us.

After a wander through the city and a few more beers, we visited the Arndale Centre to experience The Cube, another television show brought to life. The atmosphere here was electric, with families, couples, and groups of friends all engrossed in the games. The supportive crowd encouraged every participant, creating a truly exciting atmosphere.

And that's how we spent our time in Manchester with teenage girls in tow. They indulged in shopping, and we indulged in beers, all while enjoying the city's vibrant attractions. There's undoubtedly much more to see and do, and I'm certain we'll be back for more. Manchester, with its wide streets and trams, occasionally felt like Amsterdam, leading us from bustling thoroughfares to hidden alleys, each corner offering something new. The city exuded a relaxed and warm ambiance, reminiscent of Amsterdam but without the scent of weed in the air.

Did we fall in love with Manchester? Absolutely. Three days in the city was just the beginning. We didn't stop, discovering new things at every turn. After this trip, I truly understand Manchester.

Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart."

Oh, and yes, I couldn't resist vinyl shopping while I was here. Manchester, you've left a lasting impression.


The Mosi (museum of science and industry) is well worth a visit.
Society bar is fantastic with independent food venders in there whilst sampling many vocation real ales. ( but I am biased on this one as it’s my cousin from ravenshesd who owns vocation)
I now live 30 minutes away from both Manchester and Liverpool and they’re both great cities, but Manchester is much bigger and more to do.
Glad you enjoyed it there. 👍🏼

RICHARD SWIFT November 22, 2023

You make it sound more Inter than I’d thought definitely worth a visit and so much more than a night out venue
Thanks for sharing

Vicki November 22, 2023

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