One of the cool things about my job is that every now and again I get to go on a ‘business trip’ somewhere new. This weekend, it was Manchester, and although I went there for work, primarily, I could not leave without at least a quick peek round the city.
Because I was on a tight schedule, I started my tour at 8am. Which meant the city was still asleep and hungover from the night before – perfect sightseeing conditions. Waking up in a new city has to be one of the best feelings in the world.
I cannot say I covered everything in Manchester, but what I did see gave me a good idea of the feel of the city, and I really liked it. I liked the colours of Chinatown, the muffed noise of the city trams and the architectural variety of modern and old buildings. Metallic white and plastic, beige bricks, auburn walls, stained-glass windows. Little English pubs squeezed between fashion outlets and banks. Crocus plants blooming by the church.
Many sites were under construction so the city gives an ‘unfinished’ impression. Old factory chimneys and big blocky buildings remind you that it’s not supposed to be a charming English town or a European state of the art capital – Manchester is industrial at heart. The occasional bits of impractical decorations – marble cherubs’ heads over a window, a fancy tower, beds of flowers – are enough to soften the city’s character though.
I barely spent 24 hours in Manchester, but it was worth the four-hour train journey. I hope to be back very soon.