24 Hours in Manchester

We braved our first trip on Ryanair recently.  Where were we headed? -- to Manchester and Liverpool in the UK!  The general reaction that we got when we mentioned our weekend getaway to friends and colleagues was "why there?" with a raised eyebrow.  We would always answer "Why not?!"  Every place is worth visiting at least once and the price and distance was certainly perfect for a weekend jaunt.  The flight itself is less than an hour each way and cost less than $100 per person.
We paid strict attention to the Ryanair guidelines for baggage.  We arrived on time in Manchester with no worries or unexpected surprises.  It was actually a decent flight.

One of the first things we saw when we arrived in Manchester was this "fun bus".  I thought this was a good omen for our day.
I stopped to admire this statue of Queen Victoria in Piccadilly Gardens.
We arrived really early (before 8 am) and thus set out to find breakfast.  We ate a no-nonsense meal of scrambled eggs and toast at Cafe Metro.  It was a solid stop to fuel up for the day.
I liked this twist on the typical English black cab.  This one is emblazoned with colorful advertising.
An advantage to arriving before many shops opened was that was had time to enjoy the graffiti painted on the metal doors protecting each establishment.  I love how this kid is tucking a cupcake in her cap -- an intriguing maneuver.
I saw this unexpected broom and dustpan sculpture nearby.
I also walked past a variety of sidewalk poetry and thought I'd transcribe it here:
"The telling lines within a sea of faces where sufferers take cover of street caves."
"Where wander the wayward and lost where the runaway can chart his journey back home."
"Here the water runs, the world defrosts, the street breathes beneath this stone"
We wandered through a flower decorated shopping street to Exchange Square which features a large ferris wheel.
The Triangle Shopping Centre featured a light filled glass atrium.
I found it amazing to think that less than 15 years ago, this whole area lay in ruins due to an IRA bombing.  We stopped to pay our respects at the bright red post box that survived the destruction and still stands on the same spot today.
We wandered toward St. Ann's church and were impressed by Barton Arcade -- both inside and out.
On a whim, we popped into the John Rylands University Library -- also impressive inside and out.  The library featured a large, book-lined and wood paneled reading room for students and scholars.
The Museum of Science and Industry was our next stop.
I liked this decorative hedge outside -- looks like a half-bird, half-cat to me.
We saw various types of engines on display.
We also got to see a coal powered locomotive in action.  For a few pounds, you could go for a short ride.  We decided to skip it and leave room for the families with excited children.
The decorations around the railyard were also impressive.
In the distance, we could see the striking (and asymmetrical) Manchester Hilton.
I liked the texture of this rusting railcar in front of the orange brick.
Another fascinating sight at the MOSI was the Water Supply and Sanitation exhibit.  Part of the display involved walking through a victorian era sewer -- not as gross as it sounds.

Romans once occupied this part of the world and there were some ruins close to the museum.
We chanced upon a series of restaurants situated in a courtyard and enjoyed pizza and a glass of red wine at Don Marco.
Fed and re-energized, we walked along the canal.
Gorgeous orange flowers were strategically placed in baskets along the water's edge.
En route to our hotel, we walked along Canal Street, the center of Manchester's Gay Village.  Restaurants and bars featured plenty of seating right along the water.  It was a lovely spot.
We checked into the City Inn and were surprised to find an array of period costumes on display in the lobby.
After a brief siesta at the hotel, we decided to walk along Oldham St, a funky street full of shops and restaurants.
We passed Sweet Tooth Cupcakery and had to stop.  The treats on display looked that good!
The cupcake varieties were named after celebrities.  We had the Johnny Cash and Jack Nicholson.  The Johnny Cash was essentially cookies and cream and Jack Nicholson was blueberry and maple flavored.  They were amazingly moist and sweet -- I'm not sure how the flavors relate to the names though.
We continued on to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre.  There were some amazing studios selling everything from jewelry, to knitted goods, to prints and paintings.
We saw an odd display of fake dead birds on the stairwell between the ground and 1st floor.
This knitted painter/finger puppet was much more to my liking!
We decided to head toward the Printworks and discovered this single historical wall guarding the entrance of a modern apartment complex.
The Printworks featured an unusual mix of blazing neon and old advertisements faded into the brick.
We popped in to a popular pub called Ape and Apple for a pint.  I have to say, I prefer Irish beer to what we have here.  English cask ales tend to be closer to room temperature and thus less refreshing and satisfying to my palette.
We saw this striking gargoyle-fish fountain outside the Manchester Town Hall.
Before we knew it, it was time for dinner.  We stopped at Abdul's a popular spot among students featuring kebabs and other quick middle eastern fare.  The peas and rice was surprisingly spicy (4-alarms!) -- highly recommended if you like your food to have heat.
We'd wandered slightly outside the city limits for dinner but soon made our way past the welcome sign once again.
We saw more impressive street art on Oxford Road and down some of the nearby side streets.
Our last stop of the evening was the Cornerhouse Cinema and Art Gallery where we bought tickets to see The Illusionist.
We arrived about 10 minutes before the art exhibits were scheduled to close so did a quick walk through.  There were four stories of exhibits to choose from.
Unrealised Potential documented a variety of avantgarde proposals in the artists' minds that they would implement if only they had support and funding.  The exhibit itself was a series of contracts like the one below pasted onto the wall.  It's a little blurry, but this particular submission proposed to turn an everyday city space into a pigeon-coop to be occupied by feral pigeons.
We definitely feel like we realized the full potential of Manchester in a single day -- we covered about 10 miles on foot between sun-up and sun-down.  It was totally worth the visit.  Now, on to Liverpool!

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Sidewalk Safari: 24 Hours in Manchester
24 Hours in Manchester
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Sidewalk Safari
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