When I went to Manchester in April, I didn't buy any books, but I didn't do the typical tourist thing either.
I arrived at a local train stop, instead of the main hub. When my friend, A, came for me, we walked to his condo, which is in a converted factory. The outside walls are very thick, with very large windows.
We went to lunch at a nearby Chinese restauarant. I had different foods from the ones I normally have at home, but it was all wonderful. All the windows were open, because it was a warm day, and there are no ACs there.
Then, we took a walk around City Centre (downtown). It was compact, and everything that you would need is in walking distance.
The most exciting thing that I saw was a blocked-off street; an unexploded WWII German bomb was discovered the previous week. I was surprised to learn that the bombings took place so far north; I thought that only London and the nearby towns were hit.
Later in the evening, we met K at a student pub. The atmosphere was fun; everyone was having conversations or playing pool. I could barely hear the music. The fashions varied from formal to neo-punk.
The next day, A's parents came. We had brunch at the student pub; what a difference 6 hours make. The place was quiet; I had enough room to move around and have a nice conversation with them.
Afterwards, we had coffee, tea, and homemade cake. A's mom had made it; it was so good, it was heavenly. I just can't do justice to it with these paltry words.
She is now drinking coffee, because tea is boring her. Wow. I never thought that I would ever hear that.
We then took the trolley to visit the Lowry Musuem, which is dedicated to the local artist,
L S Lowry.
I am so happy that this museum exists. Many cities don't recognize their geniuses/native sons. He drew the places and people of northern England.
As we looked at the art work, A's mother was telling me interesting stories about life in this part of England and how things have changed so much. I always love hearing about the past. We then looked at photographs that were inspired by Lowry; many of the places don't exist anymore.
On our way to the museum, we were riding the trolley with Chelsea and Blackburn football (soccer) teams. The fans were singing boisterously; if there were insulting each other, I had no idea what they were saying. A's mom and I were giggling at the singing.
I was impressed with the measures that the Manchester Police took to prevent any problems before or after the game. According to these statistics, 50,559 fans attended the game and there were no problems at all.
They made sure that everyone paid the trolley fare. They patrolled all areas. Some pubs closed before the game, or if they were open, they don't allow anyone who had a team jersey get in.
All the fans got off one stop before we did: Manchester United Stadium (David Beckham's old stomping grounds.)
When we got off for the Lowry, I saw a Goodyear Blimp circling the Stadium. I was about to say "Look at the blimp" when I remembered, blimp is such an American word! So, I racked my brain until I remembered a word they would know: DIRIGIBLE. (Hey, watching History Channel comes in handy once in awhile!)
We took a nice walk around the quay after the exhibit and took the trolley back to A's place.
When the sun was setting, they left.
But, my day was not over yet. A and I met K at another pub at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday night. A band was playing Irish music. (K works in Dublin; he said that in all the time he has been over there, he hasn't heard an Irish band play in the pubs he visits!) The place was full by 11:30!
I now realize that a pub is what coffeehouses are to Americans, a place to meet and talk. Since a lot of homes are small, it might be more comfortable to sit in a pub than in a living room.
Luckily, my train to London didn't leave until 11 a.m. and A didn't have to commute to his job until 3 p.m. We both had enough time to sleep before going our separate ways on Monday morning.
Manchester is another place that I need to return to. I didn't see everything, but at least I saw how normal people live there.
(K is in red, A is in the short sleeved shirt, the other guy next to me - he just got into the picture; I have no idea who he is. He and his mates were sitting at the next table. Cheeky.)