An Adventure to Say the Least!

Trip Start Sep 06, 2013
Trip End Jan 27, 2014

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, October 26, 2013

On this exchange I have met so many new people but am especially closest to those that I live with. We get along so well that for the following three weekends we have organized various trips away together, the first of which was up to Manchester where three of us tagged along with one of the Girls from my block going home for the weekend.
Even though train tickets are fairly cheap over here we still always try to get the cheapest deal... This meant waking up at 5am Saturday morning 26/10/13 to get to the train station in time!
We arrived in Manchester at 8:30am, it was raining our backpacks were heavy and nothing was really open so we found a random local pub and got some pretty average food and coffee while we planned our actions for the day.
With our maps at the ready and Xavier prepped to pose we visited the Chinese Arch. From there we made our way to the town hall in Manchester. It may not sound like much but the Manchester town hall was an amazing piece of Victorian architecture! The greatest thing about it for me was the intricacy of the ceiling. Some things are too hard to describe with words but I've put some pictures up in this post :) The John Rylands Library in Manchester was a very similar architectural style and was breath taking with beautiful stain glass window and various exhibits throughout the library.
Apart from these cultural attractions Manchester is also fairly well known for its shopping areas where we went to meet up with one of the girls from the UK bus tour I was on as her exchange is at Manchester uni. Of course the three of us got lost trying to find the meeting point as we were taking in the strange scene that faced us, the main shopping area of Manchester was like a cross between Times Square and an Industrial English Town. There were various shopping complexes with HUGE shops and also a lot of quirky little vintage shops. It was very different to Nottingham in that it was more spread out and the majority of the shops were in large shopping centers rather than along the street.
After meeting up with my friend from the UK bus tour we also met our friend from our block in Nottingham who we were staying with for the weekend in Wilmslow (she had left uni a day before us). It had been two months since a) I had been in a car b) I had stayed in a house and c) I had had a proper home cooked meal all of which we got this weekend. I'm so grateful to our friend for opening up her house for us and showing us around her town it made the experience so much more enjoyable, although I'm sure she got sick of us telling her how comfortable the beds were and the pillows! :P
That night we headed back into Manchester to check out a couple of hidden local bars with my friend on exchange there. One of the places we went to was a tiki bar which had absolutely amazing cocktails, we spent a fair amount of time just watching the bartenders in awe as they set fire to drinks and casually tossed the bottles of spirits around. From the nightlife in Manchester we made our way back to Wilmslow to the bar where our friend we were staying with works at. The bar had such a nice atmosphere and we spent the rest of the night there making shadow puppets on the walls until it closed... Which turned out to be for an extra hour because the clocks went back that night for daylight savings it was great fun!
The morning of our second day in Manchester was spent taking endless photos of my friends cat while we waited for everyone to wake up... something else that is fantastic about staying in a house, pets! :)
We went on a scenic drive around Wilmslow unfortunately the weather wasn't great (of course) so it turned into a narrated drive of the dodgy and not so dodgy areas with all the insight from a local and a trip to Trafford centre - A HUGE shopping centre! This shopping centre reminded me so much of Chadstone back in Melbourne... But with random replicas of ancient Greek statues and a food court designed like the titanic!
After an afternoon of shopping and an absolutely delicious home cooked dinner(best meal I've had the whole time I've been here!) we said goodbye to my friend and her parents and headed off to the station to catch our train back to Nottingham..... I wish it had been that easy!
Everything over here seems to be in 24 hour time so when reading out our return train ticket time as 22:11 it was mistook as being 20 minutes to 11pm... We missed the last train that night back home and there were no information people in the train station to help! So out came the phones with 3G, bus timetables and desperate calls back home to others in our block at 10:30pm until we finally found an alternative bus journey home. After already being at the train station for an extra hour and a half we made our way to a bus station, bought another ticket :/ and caught the 11:45pm to Leeds... Which is actually further away from Nottingham than Manchester is! That was an hour bus trip then we had another hour and a half wait at Leeds bus station where we had to catch another bus at 2am to Nottingham... A three hour bus ride, we were soooo tired and sleeping on a coach ain't the most comfortable thing! So what was supposed to be a two hour train ride turned into a five hour adventure finally arriving back to our block at 5:30am Monday morning waking up again at 10am for classes!
So overall our first weekend away in Manchester was adventurous to say the least but also a great experience of an English city that I had seen nothing like before in my time in England so far :)
Next weekend we are once again going home with another one of the girls in our block to Margate and exploring the town of Canterbury, can't wait! :)

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