Manchester: In or out

In Travel Guides, United Kingdom
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“Manchester: the only place in England which escapes our characteristic snobbery” – A.J.P. Taylor

I first saw this quote displayed in a little bar in Manchester’s Northern Quarter called Cottonopolis (aptly and quirkily named after the city’s history of being the international centre of the cotton and textile trade in the 1800s).

I have lived in Manchester’s outskirts my entire life and in more recent years, had grown to love the city more and more. I could never quite sum up what exactly I loved about England’s third city, but this quite nicely put it..

I used to visit London almost monthly, holidayed in Central Europe most of my childhood, then went on to move to Orlando, travel America, and now I’ve hopped across to the other side of the world, living in Melbourne and travelling my way around the Southern hemisphere with an embarrassingly large backpack on my shoulders..

Of all the places I have been and the sights I have seen, I can truly say there is nowhere in the world that feels quite like Manchester. I am not naive enough to believe that the world revolves around this place and that to leave you would be a fool. My travels have taken me all over the world and I have loved every single second. But the reason I enjoy it so much is because I know when I return home, the adventure never stops because I get to return to a city that I adore.

We should never travel to run away. You could for weeks, months, even years.. But when you step back home, your problems will be resurrected. Don’t travel because of that. Travel to discover. Travel for change. Travel for fun. If your life feels so mundane and unfulfilled that you have to sit at your desk drinking 10 cups of shit coffee every day just to stay alive, stop. Go out there and have some fun.

It is only a matter of time before I make the big return home. But if there is anything I have learnt is that adventure can be found anywhere, anyhow and with anyone. The fun doesn’t stop when the backpack comes off.

Locals, visitors, friends;  welcome to my home:

  • The Queen of Pop, the Kings of Soccer.. and the Gallaghers..

If I had a penny for the number of people I have met travelling who feel that “WHEEEEY, MANCHESTER UNITED!” is an appropriate response to “I’m from Manchester”, then I wouldn’t need to be sitting here writing articles for money.. I’m not going to lie, I don’t know anything nor do I give a single crap about football (I’m a 22 year old baking traveller ok, this is not my specialist area). But what I do know (I think) is that we’ve got some pretty sick football teams with some pretty good players holding matches at 2 of the biggest stadiums in the country. Sounds good, ey?

Onto something I actually do know about, the music!! Manchester’s music history, to me, is fascinating. Liverpool may have brought you The Beatles, but we brought Madchester to the scene. In the late 1980s/early 90s, a Manchester born and bred collection of bands like The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets and Happy Mondays were booting Stock Aitken and Waterman out of the charts and giving Kylie and Jason a run for they money. To the public, it was different and real and started up a whole new revelation of British music and culture. The world was going bonkers over Manchester and set the pave for the 90s Britpop takeover. Without this, Noel and Liam Gallagher wouldn’t have a platform for their voice.. take that as you may..

At that time, the Hacienda nightclub was a major player for the distinctive musical and nightlife happening in the city – Madonna even did her first ever performance in the United Kingdom right there in 1984! Madge in Madchester.. Bet you didn’t think that was coming did you!

Because of it’s rich music history, present day Manchester is now riddled with exciting, unique nightlife for us all to enjoy. From the Gay Village, to the Northern Quarter to the Hacienca inspired – FAC51. There truly is something for everyone.

New Order ticket stub from Hacienda (by antipopstar)

  • Where the old meets the new..

Back to good old Cottonopolis; back in the 19th century, Manchester was growing at a never-before-seen rate as part of the sudden urbanisation during the industrial resolution, turning around the city in little over a century. Nowadays, the city is booming more than ever; its economic status maybe best shown through the modern structures of the Manchester Arena, Trafford Centre and predominately, the quirky looking, iconic Beetham tower, which upon opening was the tallest residential building in the UK and still remains the tallest building in the UK outside of London. That being said, we don’t forget our roots here in Manchester.

Chetham’s library is the oldest free, public library in the United Kingdom. Located slightly off towards the edge of the city centre, nearby sights also included Manchester Cathedral (which also has an UNBELIEVEABLE cafe serving Afternoon tea, just fyi) and local favourite pub, Oyster Bar – perfect for Summer night beer gardens in a proper British pub setting – difficult to find in a major city centre.

Manchester is old meets new. It’s two worlds colliding. My favourite little example of this is one I had never even noticed until it was pointed out to me; the John Rylands library located on Deansgate, placed directly next to the buzzing 21st century office, shopping and bar village that is Spinningfields. The contrast of what was and what will be, to me is Manchester in a nutshell. We embrace where we’re going, but don’t you ever dare forget where we came from..

John Rylands Library and Spinningfields (by CitiesMCR)

  • To be mouthy is to be real

I could talk all day about how much I love the aesthetics of the city; the history, the buildings, the sport, the music. But what truly makes Manchester what is is to me, is the people. Mancunicans have a reputation of being mouthy. But to me, being mouthy means not holding back. It’s being real and raw and 100%, unapologetically yourself. It is the gritty, badass, care free rebellion that is backing a generation, that I have never felt in any other city in the world.

Britain has a stereotypical reputation of biting our tongues, apologising, never breaking face.. whoever came up with that clearly never came to Manchester.

We might not have a Buckingham Palace or a Big Ben, but behind the crumbling bricks, the rotting railway arches and the abandoned warehouses is a crazy, passionate, dedicated love of celebration, culture, and the excess of civic pride.

It is Manchester’s way of saying “you’re either in or out, but we’re not changing for anyone”.

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