On my recent Eurotrip, Manchester was my first stop! Thankfully, I was able to book a pretty cheap flight through Thomas Cook Airlines that was direct from JFK to Manchester, and even better: I pretty much slept through the entire flight! I love when that happens! I took this flight with my friend, Annika, and we stayed with our friend Sophie in Manchester from a Friday to a Monday.
After a 7ish hour flight, we landed in Manchester at around 10am. Sophie greeted us at the airport with a sign bearing our names and a big hug. It had been just a little less than a year since we all last saw each other! We took a quick train and then an even quicker Uber ride and finally, our journey was complete; we arrived at Sophie’s apartment, exhausted but excited. Annika and I were ready to just relax for a few, so we rested up and talked about our plans for the next couple of days. Eventually, we got hungry and we were rested up enough to venture out to one of Sophie’s favorite spots for a bite to eat, called Solomon’s Café Bar. Here they had an extensive list of teas that you could try – it was hard to pick just one! Plus they had lots of yummy food options. My plan before leaving Sophie’s apartment was pancakes/french toast, but as soon as I saw the poached eggs with avocado toast, I knew that was what I needed in my life!
Next up was a quick trip to the nearby supermarket, Sainsbury’s, to stock up on snacks and stuff to make dinner. We ended up really not even partaking in half of the snacks and beverages that we bought because there just wasn’t enough time or room in our stomachs during our time in Manc! So anything leftover, we left for Sophie to enjoy at a later time. One thing that we did purchase and eat was treacle tart. To me, it tasted kind of like a pecan pie without the pecans…basically a lot of syrupy sugary goodness! It’s made with Golden Syrup, which I cannot describe at all, but is common in England. Finally it was time for bed so that we could rest up for the next day’s adventures!
On this day, we did a day trip to two nearby cities: York and Leeds. If you’re interested in reading about that, you can do so here: [ Day Trip From Manchester: York & Leeds ]
This day was what I was most excited for, because we had plans for great food and to go to the Manchester Cat Café!!! I don’t know if you know this about me, but: I. love. cats. A lot. So the thought of getting to go hang out in a cute spot with tasty coffee and a bunch of kitties roaming around? Heaven.
We got up earlyish and got a bus into the city center, as we had a reservation at the Cat Café at 10am. It costs 12£ per hour that you spend there, and you get free drinks from the café! The cats are free to roam the cafe as they like. Most of the cats were sleeping the whole time we were there (I don’t mind, kitties, I’ll creep on you while you rest hehe) but there were a few that were waltzing around enjoying all the human visitors. The cafe only asks that you don’t wake the cats up if they are sleeping since this can startle the cats. They prefer if you let the cats wander up to you so that you’re not intruding their space. This was my first time ever visiting a cat café and I really enjoyed my time there. I would totally love to open one up myself! It’s a great way to house some homeless kitties and spread the joy that animals can give. =)
After that, Sophie took us to see some really cool street art in the Northern Quarter. She showed us a couple of her favorites as well as a newer one that was set up as a memorial to the victims of the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert. If you’re wondering why the memorial has bees, it’s because bees have become a symbol for Mancunians – in fact, you can see the bee symbol all over the city. On this memorial wall, each bee represents one victim.
We continued walking around in this area and stopped at a couple of comic book shops, which really is dangerous for me because I often want to buy every nerdy thing that I see. We also went to Thunder Egg, which was a cutesy clothes shop. They had so many things I wanted to buy, but this was the first country on our trip and my suitcase was not big enough to buy the whole store. sadface.
Then we went to my second most-anticipated spot in Manchester: the Pieminster. Sophie had sent over their menu a couple weeks prior to our trip so that Annika and I could get a good look at what they had and get ourselves psyched for pie! This is a restaurant that serves a wide variety of savory pies, including vegetarian options (vegetarian gravy, too!!). I got the Heidi, which had sweet potato, spinach, and goat cheese, and a side of mac & cheese. Everything was super delicious!! Plus the restaurant had great atmosphere.
Once we’d gotten enough food, we walked over to Affleck’s Palace, which is a market inside of a building with a ton of different stores/vendors in it. It was almost like a mall, but each store/vendor kind of melted into the next. We each bought a couple of souvenirs, and then we made our way to the Manchester Market in Piccadilly Gardens, which is outdoors. I spotted a woman selling macarons so we got a few different flavors to share once we got back to Sophie’s apartment. Whenever I get macarons, pistachio is a must. f I remember correctly, the other flavors we got were chocolate, salted caramel, cotton candy, and cookies and cream. The woman selling these was super cute and she did a great job! They were all handmade.
We hit up Waterstone’s bookshop after that which is kind of like Barnes and Noble. Similar to the comic shops, this is a dangerous place for me to be because all I want to do is buy a ton of books! Keeping on the book theme, we went to see John Ryland’s library next, which looks like a mini Hogwarts on the inside! Sophie spent a lot of time studying there during university, so she gave us a little tour. It’s definitely an impressive library and you can tell there is a lot of history there! Visiting historic buildings like this while in Europe always boggles my mind a little bit, because you don’t see things like this in the US.
Once we left the library, we walked past a couple more sightseeing spots: we saw Albert Square and the town hall, as well as St. Peter’s Square and the central library. There was a festival of some type going on so we didn’t spend much time at these spots.
By this time, we’d had a long day, so we went to Fab Café, Sophie’s favorite bar. They weren’t even technically open, but they let us in and served us a pint anyway while people got set up for a gig that was happening later that night. As I looked around, I could easily see why Sophie loves that bar…it’s nerd heaven! They have Doctor Who props, a prop from Alien vs. Predator, and a bunch of other nerd paraphernalia and signed pictures of actors from various fandoms.
After our pint, we headed back to Sophie’s where we shared our macarons and other snacks and worked on planning the next leg of our journey: Munich!
Stay tuned for my future posts about my 2017 Summer Eurotrip!