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My Manchester, for you!
Manchester in General
Member Name: Larrabee
Manchester in General
I grew up in the suburbs surrounding Manchester, moved away for University and have now been back and living in the city centre for a few years, I feel well placed to offer a review of life in the city, both for residents and visitors.
The general feel of the city is one of friendly, good natured hustle and bustle. It isn't as impersonal or as crowded and busy as London, but still has the feel of being a busy metropolitan centre. Manchester has a real sense of its own identity, but that identity is diverse and welcoming, the locals brush shoulders with people from all over the world and you'll (almost) always be welcomed with a smile!
Here's a brief guide to the best that Manchester has to offer a visitor:
Manchester has plenty to offer the serious shopper, whatever your style or budget. We have four large department stores; Debenhams, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Manchester institution Kendals, there is also a John Lewis in the Trafford Centre, the humongous out of town mall. The Arndale Centre (newly refurbished after the bomb in 1996 and looking better than ever) has pretty much every high street store you might want to visit, as well as a thriving market hall. The Northern Quarter has a great range of offbeat boutiques and second hand shops along with the iconic Affleck's Palace, a Mecca for teenage subculture types. The higher end, slightly posher shops are centred around St Ann's square and King Street. Basically, whatever you want to buy can be found in Manchester city centre, and its all within walking distance!
While no city can rival London when it comes to art galleries and theatres, Manchester is no slouch when it comes to culture. With the long standing Palace Theatre and the Opera House bringing the biggest and best of the touring productions to the city, the Lowry, the Library Theatre and the Royal Exchange all put on a wide range of performances from plays, to comedy, to dance to opera. The City Art Gallery and the Whitworth both have great permanent collections as well as regular excellent temporary shows. The Manchester Museum is a miniature version of the British and Natural History Museums and is well worth a look, if only for its old fashioned, slightly eccentric charm. The Science and Industry Museum is great for families, especially the interactive areas that kids will love and the displays of old fashioned planes and trains. Manchester is also a hub for non-traditional art forms such as street performances and events such as the Cow Parade.
Manchester has a brilliant array of restaurants to suit all budgets and all tastes. There are several branches of most popular chain restaurants in the city as well as great independent ones. Chinatown is the place for Chinese food (well obviously) and for karaoke in the evening! Rusholme, home of the 'curry mile' is where to head for Indian food, and the Northern Quarter can meet all your vegan, gluten free, organic meal requirements! Like all cities Manchester also has a vast array of fast food outlets and casual cafes, so there really is something for every occasion!
We Mancunians have a reputation for going out in winter wearing outfits that make no concessions to our freezing wet weather, and this is pretty much completely true! Manchester has a real buzz evenings and nights, especially at weekends but you can find a great night out any day of the week! If you want to go dancing there are plenty of clubs playing all sorts of music from dancey techno stuff to metal. There are many live music venues ranging in size from tiny bars with barely room for a stage to the huge M.E.N Arena. Most bands stop off at Manchester on their tours. There are many many bars in Manchester, from quirky Northern Quarter drinking holes with Doctor Who memorabilia on the walls to swish Deansgate lounges where you might just catch a glimpse of a WAG! The Printworks is a purpose built 'evening grown up playground' with restaurants, a cinema, bars and nightclubs, its not for everybody as its a bit soulless but if you want to be able to stay under one roof all evening that's the best place to go. There are also plenty of good old fashioned 'old man pubs' with excellent dukeboxes and real ale, but they tend to be hidden from view so ask a local for a recommendation!
There's no congestion charge here, yet, so you can drive right into the city but parking can be an issue. The car parks that are connected to the big attractions (The Arndale, The Printworks etc.) tend to be very expensive but if you go off the beaten track just a little bit there are cheaper car parks on random bits of land all around the city centre that are much much cheaper, generally safe and only a few minutes walk back into town. The Metrolink tram system runs through the centre of the city and links the main train stations of Victoria and Piccadilly, Manchester also has about a million buses, including a free citylink service that pootles around the city centre from 7am to 7pm.
WHERE TO STAY
There are hotels here for every budget, from Premier Inns and Travellodges to backpacker hostels to the luxurious Midland and Lowry Hotels favoured by visiting celebs.
Manchester has the largest student population in Europe, apparently, mostly concentrated around the three Unis along Oxford Road, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and The Royal Northern College of Music. There is also Salford University just a few miles away and many colleges of further education. The Fallowfield area is student central, the population seems to be about 95% student! There are lots of bars and restaurants in the student areas and many of the central clubs are geared around student nights during the week in term time, notably 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. Manchester is a brilliant place to be a student, accommodation is cheap, its easy to get around the city and the nightlife is brilliant, the unis have good reputations too!
Manchester is well known for its vibrant gay community and its gay pride parade every summer, which has grown and grown over the years and is now a huge colourful spectacle to rival London or any other. The centre of gay Manchester is undoubtedly Canal Street, home to an array of bars and clubs to suit all tastes, the surrounding area is known as the gay village but the whole city is gay friendly and some of the first civil partnerships were performed here.
So, you probably guessed, but I love Manchester! The city has some beautiful architecture and some wonderful people, you can find nearly anything you might want here and everybody is welcome. Manchester is a a great destination for a weekend away with the girls or the boys or for a day trip with the family.
Summary: A brief guide to my favourite city.
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