Back to the UK…. Again!

Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
Trip End Dec 16, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The whole point of our world journey is to see as much as we can, to visit as many countries as we can, and to all in all, travel as much as we can. When we heard that we would possibly be heading back to the UK for the fourth time on our world journey, we can't say that we were super excited. But things happen for a reason, and that is why, for the last week of March, 2013, we headed back to the UK…. Again!

We had previously been successful when applying for visas in London. We had done our paperwork, or so we had thought. As we left the UK in January, we had hoped we wouldn’t need to come back, as we only needed to get one more visa, and that was our Chinese visa, which we had hoped to get in Berlin, Germany. Guess again! We checked out the visa centre again two weeks before we got to Berlin, and learned that we could no longer get our visa there. Arrggghhhh! The Indian visa saga was ringing in our ears, but in a Chinese disguise.

Eager to find somewhere to get our visa to avoid having to send our passports home, we emailed all the Chinese visa application centres in Europe to find a place to get our visas. Nowhere in mainland Europe would let us get our visas there because the rules had recently changed. Thankfully for us, we received emails back from Manchester and Edinburgh stating that we could get our Chinese visas there, as long as we have an entry stamp to the UK.

So there we were, changing our plans of travel through East Germany, and instead booking flights to Manchester. Lucky for us, the weekend we would be in the UK, it would be the Easter long weekend, and Karen’s sister Carol in Northallerton had the weekend off. It was decided that we were going back to the UK…..Again.

Arriving in Manchester from Berlin, we were nervous about applying for our Chinese visas. We were hoping that changing our plans to come and try in Manchester was worth the gamble. As we approached the counter at the Chinese visa office with all our paperwork, we had our fingers crossed and took a deep breath. All was well as the nice staff member ticked all our paperwork and told us to come back next week to collect our passport featuring Chinese visas.

Woo hoo, we were back in the UK…again and it seemed to be worth it!

It was then time to travel, so why not check out Manchester, the second biggest city in the UK. To our surprise, Manchester was interesting, and there was plenty to see. As Manchester was the centre of the industrial revolution, there was so much history. We went to the Museum of Industry and Science where we learnt about the Industrial revolution, the cotton industry and its link to the slave trade. This museum was fantastic, but so big and overwhelming, and as we recently realised there was so much to see.

Like true travellers, we checked out the main sights in Manchester. The town hall, the cathedral, the John Ryland library, and the Chetham library. At the Chetham library, we realised that our visit to Manchester also linked to our travels in Eastern Europe and the iron curtain. Why you may ask? Well, in an alcove in this library Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had discussions which were used to create The Communist Manifesto. These discussions were based on what was happening to people in the Industrial Revolution, but years later Communism was established in Eastern Europe and totally taken out of context to the utopia the two men had dreamt of.

A trip to the National Football stadium, and dinner in Manchester’s China Town finished off our first visit to Manchester. We then headed off to Northallerton to spend the Easter long weekend with Karen’s sister.

Visa submitted, tick! Sightseeing in Manchester, tick! Now it was time for chilling out, lots of drinking, fish and chips for Good Friday, and plenty of chocolate. Easter Sunday came around and we thought it was a good excuse to have a Sunday roast. So Shaun got in the kitchen and groomed, then stuffed some pheasants. Along with roast vegetables and some red wine, we had a nice Easter Sunday lunch with family. Yes, we were back in the UK….again, and we were having a great time with family.

A visit to the classic English city of Harrogate was a nice way to spend Easter Monday. Then before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to everyone in Northallerton as we travelled back to Manchester. Within an hour of arriving in Manchester, we had our passports affixed with our Chinese visas in our hot little hands. We were back in the UK….again, but at least it worked!!! Thankyou Aunt Lizzie!!!!!!

Our last day in Manchester was taken up with exploring the area of Old Trafford and the Quays. First stop was Old Trafford Football Stadium, home to Shaun’s beloved premier league team, Manchester United. We went on a behind the scenes tour of the stadium. We went into the seating area, into the dressing rooms, into the press conference room, and in the coaching section of the stadium. This was the closest we were going to get to a Man U game. And for Karen who isn’t a football fan, this tour was interesting. After the tour we browsed through the museum.

Our last afternoon in Manchester was spent at the Imperial War Museum of the North, which was another great example of great museums in England. Overall, we really enjoyed exploring Manchester, and were impressed with this city that we previously thought was just an industrial city.

Leaving the UK for the last time (hopefully), and we mean last time on this trip (hopefully), we were actually glad we came back to the UK….Again. We got our Chinese visas (thanks again Aunt Lizzie), we explored the great industrial city of Manchester, and we spent Easter with family. All in all, we went back to the UK….Again, and it was a most successful visit!
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