We started the day off at around 7 am so we could get into Nottingham early enough to catch our train. What we didn’t take into thought was that the buses traveling into town were on a different schedule on Sundays and if we were to wait for the next bus to take us there, we may miss our 8:15 train to Manchester. Our only option was to make the walk. The walk was only about 2 miles, and we had about 30 minutes to do it, so there wasn’t much of an issue besides starting our day off with a bit of a hike. Of course the day ahead of us was also to be filled with loads of walking.
The trip to Manchester took just under 3 hours by train, but it offered an amazing set of views of the English countryside known as the Peak District. We also had my iPad out and played a few games of Catan. I can confidently say that I have Sean hooked on the game as he is currently sitting across from me quietly conquering his very own set of islands.
My knowledge of Manchester is pretty limited. I know of the football team, and I’ve heard of the famous Curry Mile… but apart from that I wasn’t too sure what else it had to offer. Our plan was to walk throughout the city for the day, try to meet up with Sean’s free running friend, have a meal at the Curry Mile, then head to Liverpool before it got too late. Ben, Sean’s friend, suggested we walk through the Museum of Science and Industry so we decided that would make for a good start. Manchester is another beautiful English city with historic buildings, so our walk to the museum was pretty spectacular. We came across a cathedral that was easily the biggest one I’ve ever seen, but Sean hardly batted an eye. I suppose if I had just recently returned from a trip to the Vatican City, I might feel the same. I’ve seen large churches in the US, and I’ve seen pictures of others throughout the world, but when you are standing at the foot of one, the perspective is incomparable. I can’t get over how much stone had to have been carved to create such a place!
The entrance to the museum was just around the corner, and I’m fairy certain we began the tour where most folks were finishing, but that didn’t stop us from walking throughout. Everything was laid out chronologically so we started in the past and worked our way to the future… personally, I think we went about it the proper way. There was a large room which featured loads of full-sized, enormous trains. All I could think about was how happy my grandfather would be had he been there. Papa: if you are reading this, you should make a mecca to Manchester. Not only were there all of these trains, and the history of all of these trains, but there was a whole section located in the Power Hall that featured the progression of steam powered trains. Of course what peaked my interest was the fact that they were all up and running! Some of these systems were truly massive and I couldn’t wrap my head around how someone could come up with such a thing. I couldn’t even get over how the museum was able to get these engines into the museum!
After leaving the museum, we made our way towards the city center. There was a very tall building that really stood out to us, The Beetham Building. I suppose being twice the size of all the other buildings, there was no avoiding that. We figured a building like that must have some sort of cafe or restaurant at the top of it so we made our way in. Cloud 23 was the name of its restaurant, and it was located midway up, just at the part that sticks out a bit. The catch was that, in order to go up, you had to buy a drink. Furthermore, the cheapest drink was about 5 pounds, which equals about $7.50 in US dollars. I’d say the view was worth the cost, and I’m not one to complain about having a drink! Turns out that the architect that designed the building actually lives and owns the top floor which is a cool 46 floors up! That guy is a genius! His name is Ian Simpson and he is originally from Manchester. I would describe his style of being modern and simplistic. I also have decided I’d like to live his lifestyle!
Just outside that building was the incredibly huge town hall building, which was host to a few weddings in the morning. I suppose having your wedding there makes for spectacular pictures and all, but I don’t care so much of the idea of sharing your wedding day with several other couples. To each his own I suppose.
Next stop in Manchester was the northern quarter where we met up with Ben and his lady friend at the Corner Bar. We had a few drinks but had to keep our meeting short as it was already getting quite late and we still hadn’t eaten a real meal during the day, not to mention that we eventually needed to catch a train to Liverpool!
Our goal was to have a meal along the strip of restaurants known as the Curry Mile. I’ve heard of this place as being the place to eat if you are ever in Manchester. We took a bus across town before getting off where we were confident we’d be able to eat some curry. Against all previous thoughts, this was much harder than either of us imagined. There were loads of restaurants, but we couldn’t determine from walking by if they had curry dishes or not. Most of the restaurants listed the foods they were offering and we didn’t see any that listed curry. We felt a bit silly asking someone because the name of the street, according to iPhone maps, was The Curry Mile. We wanted curry, but we didn’t want to commit to a place until we knew we could get it. After walking up and down the street several times we decided to just ask someone. Our first inquiry was unsuccessful as the couple wanted nothing to do with us, but our second attempt proved to be a success! My meal was a relatively mild dish called Korma Chicken. Sean, going off his gut, went with Lamb Madras. This proved to be a spicy decision. I tried a small bit of his and had tears coming down my face within seconds. I think he may go with a dish a bit less spicy next time, haha.
The day was growing old and we had to make some moves. Our original plan of catching the 7 pm train wasn’t going to happen seeing as we didn’t finish dinner until about 8, but we were aiming to arrive in Liverpool ASAP. We took a bus to the Manchester train station and arrived about 3 minutes before our train would be leaving. Sean suggested that we pick up the pace and it was a smart idea as our platform ended up being much further away than anticipated. We literally got on the train as the doors were closing!
It took about an hour to get to Liverpool from Manchester and, after a day of walking, I used the time for a quick nap. We would be meeting Sean’s partner, Jay, who had been out with all his friends for the day celebrating a birthday. Luckily they were still up when we arrived and were having a grand time at a new casino that had just opened. I didn’t gamble at all, but I can tell you that the casinos over here are much different then back home. A bit smaller, much quieter, and the minimum bets were far less than I was used to. Granted, it was a Sunday night so this may not be consistent with a standard night. We didn’t stay out too much later because we had a full day of Liverpool ahead of us. Thanks again Jay for the hospitality!!