17th April 2017
Hello! My name is Jack Edwards, and I’m a UK male blogger here at The Jack Experience. Through visiting lots of new cities on university open days recently, I realised that I don’t get to visit anywhere near enough of my own country. With this in mind, the lovely people at Omio kindly offered to send me on a trip to a popular UK city, to truly sink my teeth into the culture (and quite a lot of food, I must add). So, in the words of Snoop Dogg: Greetings, loved ones, let’s take a journey… to Manchester. Okay, so I added that last bit.
Using Omio was incredibly easy; with its super straightforward user interface and booking system, all the stresses of travel were immediately eradicated! You can view prices and times for trains, flights and coaches and compare to find the best deal. It’s worth noting that you can also add on any discount cards you may have (for example, a trusty UK 16-25 student railcard), which helps to cut down the costs further. I genuinely couldn’t believe how easy this made booking my trip, and everything ran smoothly as a result.
Manchester is a city bursting at the seams with vitality and colour on every street corner. From delicious eateries and market stalls to vintage stores and high-street shops, this city has it all, and art fills the gaps (both inside and outside the many galleries!) Even when the sun begins to fade, the city continues to pulsate with life, filling the sky with symphonies of music and the lights of clubs and bars. The atmosphere is simply electric, in a city charged by culture and history. The uncrowned capital of the North is adored by natives and visitors alike, and its hard not to inherit their admiration. Here are my top things to do while you’re there:
Home Sweet Home: For a delicious breakfast, Home Sweet Home is the place to BE. Located in the Northern Quarter, this café is really cosy (as it’s title suggests) and, perhaps more importantly, very Instagram-able. I’d especially recommend the avocado and poached eggs on toast, the freshly squeezed orange juice and the simply ENORMOUS Oreo pancakes. Later in the day, this place serves an incredible-looking lunch menu with loads of different options. You can even sit outside when the sun’s out – perfect for summer.
Afflecks Palace: I mean, you just can’t visit Manchester without taking a trip to Affleck’s Palace, can you? This is essentially a tall building with a maze of shops on a variety of floors. There’s costume shops, vintage clothes, tattoos and piercings, gifts, retro games and OH SO MUCH MORE. You’ll easily find yourself getting lost in all the different independent shops, as you wonder from store to store. All the shopkeepers are incredibly friendly and there’s a lovely atmosphere on every floor. Even if you don’t make a purchase, it’s a must-see!
Vintage Clothes Shopping: Okay, high-street stores are great, and Manchester certainly has these in abundance, but there’s something great about owning something unique – and that’s where the plethora of vintage shops comes in handy. Manchester will certainly be willing to help you up your style game, and I’d particularly recommend checking out COW and Pop Boutique (inside Affleck’s Palace). There’s even one store (opposite the Arndale Centre) where they cost items based on weight, so each kilogram costs £15. This is an incredible bargain, especially considering the quality of goods they have. If you’re looking for Levi’s, this is where you’ll get ‘em cheap!
Second-Hand Book Shopping: Now everyone loves a bargain, and eventually paying a tenner for every single book you want to read adds up. Vintage book shops are the perfect solution, and Manchester has an incredible one on Albert Square, next to ‘Breakout’ – which also seems like a lot of fun, fyi. They have books for as little as 50p, and even world-renowned classics won’t set you back any more than £4 each. I managed to pick up Huxley’s Brave New World, Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, Woolf’s To The Lighthouse, Eliot’s Peter Ackroyd AND Austin’s Northanger Abbey for just £17, meaning they averaged out at just under £3.50 each. I was SO CHUFFED.
Let's Get Arty-Farty: For a bit of culture, head to the stunning Art Gallery, located on Princess Street. Home to loads of incredible exhibits and critically-acclaimed pieces, it’s a really nice place to wander around and forget about the world for a while. Take some time to gaze quizzically at each piece as you try to work out the ‘deeper meaning’, or just have a stroll through and admire the pretty pictures.
John Rylands Library: Another essential spot for all book-lovers and culture-seekers alike is Rylands’ Library. No, not the guy from The X Factor... John Rylands, Manchester’s first multi-millionaire. This is a beautiful library which you can walk around and just bask in the spine-bound knowledge of the thousands of books which line the shelves. There are also some lovely ‘historical toilets’ which have been restored to look exactly like they would’ve done in the Victorian times. The lady on the reception desk thoroughly recommended I check these out and, I must say, I was not disappointed.
Go for a Wander: Manchester is one of those cities you can just walk around and admire. From the Cathedral to the canal to the busy shopping streets, there’s just so much to see! The city obviously has a lot of history, so there’s loads of amazing historic buildings on every street. I really enjoyed just wandering around in the sunshine.
Crazy Pedro’s: A recommendation from my cousin who lives near Manchester was ‘Crazy Pedro’s Part Time Pizza Parlour’ which serves up a delicious-sounding £5 lunch deal including either 2 slices of pizza, a ‘hoagie’ (a sub-roll) or nachos. I was way too full from breakfast to visit, but when I walked by it was absolutely ram-packed. So, if you’re travelling on a budget, a student or just looking for a part-time pizza parlour, this is the place to be.
When the sun goes down: Manchester has an incredible music scene, with pretty much every major artist making a point to visit as part of their tours of the UK. However, you can also try and spot out your next favourite singer/band, just as I did at ‘Night & Day Café' where I saw Jade Bird and Tom Walker absolutely smash their performances as part of ‘BBC Introducing’. Tickets were just £8, so fantastic value for money. After that, make sure to head into town for a night-out you won’t forget in a hurry. Manchester’s night life is truly electric, with loads of bars and clubs.
So there you have my dream day out in Manchester! Of course there’s lots more to do, such as visiting MediaCity in Salford Quays or Manchester’s two major football grounds, but I simply didn’t have enough time to visit everything! Thank you very much to Omio for sponsoring this post and sending me on a lovely trip – I had the best time! You can check out their glorious app HERE and their wonderful website HERE. Check out the vlog of the day below and, until next time, goodbye!
By Jack Edwards