Manchester: a city that stands united.
Sadly the above sentence was borne out of a tragic event; the suicide bombing that occurred ten months ago at the Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert. Manchester was thrown on to the world’s stage as a place shrouded in grief; it’s citizens were locked in a state of utter turmoil and despair following the wake of the atrocity and Mancunians (myself included) could just not understand how or why something so awful could happen to their beloved city and why so many innocent people had to lose their lives due to one person’s senseless, selfish actions.
But despite it all Manchester pulled through…
When the initial reports started filtering through the media that something had happened during the concert at the Manchester Arena, hundreds upon hundreds of people were sharing information, doing their utmost to provide help, transportation and lodgings to those who left the event disorientated. I would refresh my Facebook timeline every thirty seconds and see dozens of new posts offering a sofa for people to rest their head or listing the names of children and teenagers they were keeping safe amid the chaos. At that moment, I could not have been prouder of my birthplace, my home, my Manchester and so I decided to write this post dedicated to the best city in the world!
Things I LOVE about Manchester
- Number one should be kinda obvious if you read my introduction… it is the PEOPLE! The wonderfully warm and wacky people nicknamed Mancunians! They are the beating heart of the city, the essence that gives Manchester its notoriously friendly and welcoming atmosphere. I love going for walks with our Lazza and being greeted numerous times by fellow walkers; a simple ‘good morning’ is SO refreshing these days considering the majority of people live their lives behind a screen and thankfully Manchester has not kicked the ‘old age’ tradition of speaking to people face to face.
- The endless varieties of food on offer! Arabic, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Korean… Manchester has it all and none is in short supply! I loved my time working in Rusholme because of the available food options; I would shuffle over to Falafel for some creamy hummus and warm pitta or make my way over to the Afghan Cuisine for a steaming kobeda kebab. Akbar’s on Liverpool Street is my go-to Indian; they have the most flavoursome seafood balti and supersized naan breads that come to your table hanging further than the length of a 30cm ruler. Yard & Coop is the place to go for some fried chicken! Marinated in buttermilk, it is super juicy and tender whilst the batter is amazingly crispy. Dazzling Café is a fairly new place but it has the most awesome collection of pizzas! I tried the pesto duck pizza the week before I moved and it was so tasty. The pesto was super green meaning it was freshly made and the duck complemented it well. I also tried their honey toast for dessert: a massive mountain of sweet bread, smothered in hazelnut sauce and cream…yummy! Almost Famous has an eclectic collection of burgers and fries; some include frazzles, there is bacon rain…it is every Burger Queen’s heaven! Ultimately Manchester is the place for all the foodies out there!
- The weather! Always a bone of contention for most Mancunians but not for me. I have always preferred the colder season of winter back home; nothing better to me than being snuggled up warm at home on an early dark evening listening to the pounding rain outside. Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy the days of sun we do get during summer, feasting on my dad’s exquisitely marinated BBQ food or by strolling around one of the many parks, however winter is my buddy! So much so that the first time it chucked it down over here in Busan, I simply sat under a shelter and enjoyed the sight, smell and sound!
- Northern Quarter! Is there any where better for a cheeky couple of cocktails and a slut drop extravaganza than Manchester’s very own NQ?! No, there is not. Favourite place to let my hair down on Fridays and Saturdays has to be Lost in Tokyo! Decent drink prices and a blend of RnB and Pop music. Majority of the time I stumble over to Twenty Twenty Two’s once LIT kicks me out for a few tipsy rounds of ping pong! The nightlife does not end here however… there are countless bars in the NQ where you can just enjoy some drinks and a chill with mates. I’m always either in Affleck & Brown (awesome cocktails) or The Freemount (awesome live music to tap your feet to). Also the NQ has served as a filming location for Peaky Blinders and Captain America in the past!
- Afflecks Palace! Integral part of the NQ! A fantastic, multi-storey complex where you can find one-of-a-kind clothing, buy unique barbells or hoops for your piercings, or get a new tattoo. My favourite thing about Afflecks is its inclusivity; it does not judge, it does not hate and it states this the moment you walk through the door. It’s anti-phobic stance is emblazoned across the stairs going up to the first level from the Short Street entrance. Anywhere that treats everybody as equal feels like home to me!
- Royal Exchange Theatre! I have seen countless shows at the Royal Exchange (‘Macbeth’, ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘A Streetcar named Desire’, ‘Helen of Troy’) and so far none have failed to disappoint. A personal favourite would have to be ‘Fatherland’; a brilliant performance fulfilled by 13 cast members about contemporary fatherhood and how the past has shaped it and what hopes there are for the future. Although the entire cast were phenomenal, the standout performer for me was Tachia Newell; Manchester born and bred, he was a student at Xaverian College (incidentally where I worked before moving to Busan) and he starred in ‘Waterloo Road’ for a few years. During ‘Fatherland’, my eyes were instantly drawn to him each and every time he was in the centre of the theatre. His performance was so raw, organic and he is definitely one to watch!
- Surrounding areas! There are so many nearby areas to venture out to if you ever want to get away from the city for a little break. Lyme Park is in Cheshire and it is such a wonder patch of land to go for a Sunday stroll. There are quite a few, cosy and dog-friendly pubs nearby as well serving delicious food! It also served as Pemberley in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice; I like to picture Mr. Darcy waiting for me there! Formby beach is just over an hour away by car; we always take Lazza there as he loves the feel of the sand underneath his paws. There are also some amazing country spots where you can go for a long walk. Ladybower Reservoir near the Snake Pass is beautifully picturesque at any time of the year and Mount Shutlingsloe is lovely but make sure you wear the proper sort of walking shoes as it gets quite steep once you reach the top. I, of course, wore Nike Air Max and was slipping and sliding all over the place. There are so many other places to explore which I have on my to-visit list once I return!
Honourable mention: iFly! Before I traded Manchester for Busan, I went to iFly near the Trafford Centre with my family to do indoor skydiving! It was such an awesome experience, a mad adrenaline rush and it has made me want to experience outdoor skydiving! It has been added to my bucket list!
Any Mancunians who think I’ve left something vital off this list? Anyone ever visited Manchester and have a favourite place to walk/shop/eat? Let me know in the comments! 😊