I visit my fiance who lives in the Manchester UK area so thought that a few tips might be useful.
by tvordj on April 22, 2008
Manchester is not always thought of as a major shopping destination but it has quite a lot to offer, if not quite as much as a city like London. Most shoppers will be more than satisfied with the selection available from markets to upscale stores like Selfridges and designer shops. Marks and Spencer has rebuilt it's city centre store after an IRA bomb leveled it in the 1990s. It's now one of the largest in the country and is considered it's flagship store. Other major stores in the same area include Selfridges, Debenhams and Kendalls. These stores are steps away from the renovated Arndale Shopping mall and a host of other good shops in the Royal Exchange/St. Anne's Square/King Street West area. the nearby Old Corn Exchange building has been restored from the bomb damage it suffered and now houses designer stores and restaurants. Deansgate is also handy for high street shops and restaurants. A few blocks away is the wonderful Affleck's containing four floors of market stalls for alternative tastes. A little further afield is the amazing Trafford Centre. Many busses will take you there and the tram goes close with a shuttle bus. This is a lovely mall with John Lewis as it's anchor. The decoration and skylight domes make the mall bright and cheerful. There are themed food court areas for various parts of the world (Chinese, New Orleans, Italian etc) and there is a large cinema complex, casino and games arcade. Also on the tram line is the Lowry Designer Outlet centre by the Lowry theatre and gallery in Salford Quays. Excellent shopping and bargains to be found there as well.
by tvordj on November 28, 2012
This year was the first chance I had in my many visits to Manchester to go to the annual Christmas markets. They set up in the city centre around the middle of November and run until Christmas. They're modelled after the markets on the Continent and many of the booths are German or French in theme. They have small wooden huts set up in the main square, Albert Square, in front of the Victorian Town Hall but they also spill over to several other streets and squares in the city centre. There are over 200 stalls and a scattering of "cafe" style set ups, such as a couple of German beer gardens and a French cafe, that I saw. Many of the stalls are food related with delicacies and goods locally sourced and from other parts of Europe. There are hand made items and crafted items, food, drink and lots of interesting things to look at and to buy. We started at St. Ann's Square and worked our way towards the Town Hall which is the main site. It happened to be my last day in Manchester or I would have bought a lot more, especially various meats and cheeses to try back at the flat but since I couldn't take them with me on the plane, they had to stay where they were. I did get some flavoured coffees and a scarf and tried some mulled wine from one of the many booths. The hot drink kiosks also gave you the drinks in a souvenir mug. They charge 2 pounds for it and if you bring the mug back, you get the deposit back but you can keep it if you want. I did though the type of mulled wine I chose to try wasn't to my liking unfortunately but there are many other types to try. We started browsing around noon and by the time we got to the Town Hall square, the crowds there were very thick and it started to feel very claustrophobic. Inside the Town Hall was another market set up for the vendors of the alternative Northern Quarter market Affleck's. Inside the Town Hall where that was, was even more of a bottleneck for people and we lasted long enough to get in and get out. There's no free parking but there are NCP car park garages scattered around and the busses run down Deansgate. The markets are all accessible. It's a great place to pick up interesting gifts or try a new type of sausage or fudge or find a unique ornament for your Christmas tree. Locations: Albert Square, Brazenose St, King St, St Ann's Square, New Cathedral Street, Exchange SquareAll market sites (except Albert Square*)Nov: 10am - 7.30pm (bars open until 9pm)Dec: 10am - 8pm (bars open until 9pm)Albert Square 10am - 9pm every day
by tvordj on May 29, 2011
If this were to be found in Canada or America, it would be called the Arndale Mall because we call them shopping malls, but quite often in the U.K. they're referred to as shopping "centres". The Arndale was built in the 1970s but suffered some damage at the hends of the IRA bomb that went off in central Manchester in the mid 1990s. After that, there was a lot of reconstruction in the city centre and the Arndale was renovated and spruced up considerably. It's had even more modernization in the 21st century and is now a gleaming, modern shopping centre with over 240 shops and services. The mall is really nice with a wide variety of shops and food kiosks. There are touch screen maps in many intersections though we did find them a bit confusing for direction. There's a large parking garage attached, accessible off the Withy Grove/Shudehill side. One side of the outside is pedestrian only and there are bus and tram connections very nearby. The Arndale is near the large new Marks and Spencers (connected by a walkway), Selfridges, Debenham's, the Printworks complex as well as the old quarter with the Cathedral and the oldest pubs in the city. It's close to the main road of Deansgate and St. Anne's Square with the Royal Exchange Theatre and the Barton Arcade shopping as well. The city centre of Manchester is busy but has a lot of great shopping options all within walking distance of the Arndale.
by tvordj on September 19, 2011
The Manchester Museum is a very large place filled with bones and bugs, rocks and mummies and more. The museum is part of the Manchester University campus on Oxford Road and is free to visit.I finally got there after many visits to Manchester and many reccomendations but for me, it was less than impressive but there's a reason. There's a lot of renovation going on at the moment in 2011, and there will be a brand new Ancient Worlds gallery in 2012 that will replace the current Egyptian and Archaology galleries. They still have a lot of the exhibits on view but not everything is there. I also found the lighting very low and hard to see some of the things.They have a living beings gallery with an aquarium and terrarium but which is mainly lizards, snakes, frogs and the like. There are lots of models of animal, bird and fish skeletons and they have a good dinosaur gallery as well though most of the full skeletons are models, not the real thing, including Stan the T-Rex. They have lots of fossils on display however.I think i enjoyed the Egyptian and archaeology galleries the most, with lots of artifacts from various civilizations from all over the world including Africa, Australia and a fantastic case with samurai armour and swords.The museum is fully accessible with lifts. There's a small gift shop and a modern cafe in an older Victorian building annexed to the museum. Open 10 - 5 Tuesday to Saturday, 11 - 4 Sunday, Monday and Bank holidays and Christmas week. There are lots of busses that go down Oxford Road from the bus terminal at Piccadilly Gardens and the tram goes to St. Peter's Square but it's about a 15 minute walk from there.
As many times as I've been to Manchester, I've never been to the Imperial War Museum at Salford Quays. It was time to rectify that. The museum has been open for about 10 years and is located in the Salford Quays development, across a footbridge from the Lowry theatre but you can get to it by road as well. The modern building looks over the Ship Canal and has a viewing platform that you can pay a couple of pounds and go up. The platform is enclosed by the tower structure but it's not weather-proof. It's like viewing from a fenced in area so it can be a bit chilly. The musuem is not large and is an open concept with some smaller cubbyhole type areas for specific displays. The theme is the 20th century and covers war from WWI to the present day. There are vehicles and artifacts and a lot of memorabilia donated by military members over the years. They have letters and audio and video as well. When we were there, they showed a video presentation on all the walls around us and it was chilling to see the Nazi flags and images so large, filling the room for a few minutes. The presentation was about how war affected the lives of children and was narrated by actors, children and probably even some people who were telling their own memories and stories. There were quite a few groups of schoolchildren there that day as well. The stories were very moving. This "Children and War" is part of a three-video presentation called the Big Picture Show that has won awards and rightly so. There are sections about women at war, the British colonies at war, nuclear age, etc. You can do research there as well. When you first enter you are presented with a full sized Harrier jump jet hanging from the ceiling and a modern cross-shaped white sculpture interpreting the artist's view of war, it's called The Crusader and while i don't usually take to modern art, it was very good. Other vehicles on display include a firefighting odd looking thing that was used in Manchester during the Blitz and the pod of a fighter plane where the gunner would sit. It looks very tiny considering. One display that gave us both shivers were two pieces of twisted, rusted metal. One was the remains of a car that had contained a bomb and the other, a taller piece, was the twisted remains of a window framing from the World Trade Centre. The museum is fully accessible with a lift and accessible toilets. The gift shop is decent and the cafe is a good size. They are open every day until 5. You can get the Metrolink tram to one of two stops across the canal, MediaCityUK or Harbour City and walk over the footbridge. The museum is free but you have to pay for parking if you have your vehicle.
by tvordj on April 23, 2008
The MSIM is a fantastic way to get a good look at the growth and origins of Manchester as an industrial city. There are five buildings, some of which were part of an old railway station. You can see old industrial machinery from the steam age, old trains, cotton mill equipment. There's a fabulous Air and Space hall with old airplanes and cars. They have one of the first mainframe computers on display though it's only a replica. There is a great interactive room for kids, called Xperiment, to investigate the laws of science and physics. The Victorian sewer is oddly fascinating They also have very good temporary exhibits. The last time I was there, the big exhibit was all about Doctor Who with props from the new recent seasons. One of the more interesting parts is the communications hall, with the origins and history of telephone, television, recording, photography, radio and print. It's in the Electricity Gallery in the 1830 Warehouse. Excellent stuff. Best of all, the museum is free for all for the regular exhibits. You could spend the day here to see it all. There are two cafes, one on the main floor and one up on the third floor. The gift shop has lots of neat stuff for kids as well as books and postcards and the usual types of things. It's fully accessible for the disabled. The free shuttle, the green line, stops by the museum for easy access. Check out the website for ongoing exhibitions, maps and detail on each area of the museum.
The John Rylands library was built as a memorial to a husband, from a wife, in the late 19th century. It now is part of the University of Manchester and is open to the public. The building is Victorian Gothic and is really beautiful, almost church-like with stained glass windows in the main reading room and vaulted ceilings. When we went there were several temporary exhibits including one on Charles Dickens and one on the 50th anniversary of the publication of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, with personal correspondence, newspaper articles and a few movie props as well. Their permanent exhibits include some ancient Egyptian papyri, some of which they believe are the first written copies of the Bible though it's only fragments of pages. They have an illuminated hand written copy of the Canterbury Tales along with a plain copy. The architecture alone is worth a visit. The staircase has an elaborate ceiling and also has a few old printing presses for examination. It was a very interesting place to visit. Doesn't charge an entry fee and there is a small cafe and shop. They have lifts and accessible toilets. Visitors can see the library: Monday 12noon - 5pmTuesday - Saturday 10am - 5pmSunday 12noon - 5pmReaders and researchers most days until 5.
by tvordj on January 20, 2009
Hatworks MuseumThe day we visited was an appropriate day seeing as the signs there proclaimed this as National Hat Week! (Easter week, 2002) There is a conducted tour that starts with a film, some of which is rare footage from the 1930's of Battersby's Hat works. We were told how they were made, first by hand and later by machine. Hats made out of felt had shellac added for stiffness and were shaped over wooden forms to give the hat it's shape. There were only the 2 of us plus a woman and her granddaughter on the tour. Also there is a museum with all sorts of exhibits of hats of every kind, ceremonial, sporting, military, religious, dress, etc. There was a big felt tent called a Yurt that is seen around Central Asia. Very colourful too. Felt is believed to be an older craft even than weaving and the craft of hatting has been a British guild since the 16th century. The museum has a working replica of the factory floor with real working machinery. We also discovered the origins of the phrase "Mad as a Hatter" - felt used to be treated with mercury during the processing and the handlers of course absorbed the deadly chemical and it adversely affected their nervous systems! There's a bright sunny cafe in the museum for a light lunch or coffee. Admission to the museum is free though the tours are £2.50, which is a pittance and well worth the price! There's a family area for kids with activities. It's open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and bank holidays. The museum is next to the bus station and not far from the train station and is on the main route through town. You can't miss the tall smoke stacks. There are ramps on the main street level and lifts for accessibility. Photography is allowed.
Chetham's Library is off the beaten path. I'd never heard of it and neither had my boyfriend who has lived in Manchester all his life. Most visitors to Manchester may see the John Ryland's Library on Deansgate in their travels but Chetham's, a medieval library which is part of the School of Music, is not something you'd walk past. You'd have to know it was there. How did I find out about it? Thanks to the magic of Twitter and a Coronation Street actor that visited it last year! The School of Music is just across from Victoria train station and the Manchester Cathedral. The building the library is in dates to the 1400s though the library was only founded in the mid 1600s. A Manchester business merchant, Humphrey Chetham, provided for the library in his will. There are many medieval manuscripts and walls full of old books locked in little cubbyholes, with wooden gates across. There are many rare books and documents and collections but I'm not sure they're all on permanent display. I think perhaps you might have to make an appointment to be shown more than what we saw just walking in. I'm also not quite sure we saw everything that was available as the brochure shows a cloisters, a Baronial Hall and Audit Room. I believe you would probably have to make an appointment to see more and also you must make an appointment to use and access the books and documents for study, mainly because they have only a few staff members on hand to assist but the library is free to use without any membership. The library is free to visit and is interesting to see. The reading room has a little alcove with windows on three sides and a table in the middle. Karl Marx and Frederich Engels were known to have used the library and work in the alcove in the lovely reading room. There was an exhibition on while we were there, papers and journals and diaries from a family called Leech that were saved and collected since the early 19th century. An interesting slice of life peeking into the lives of a local family who were into the manufacturing business.
by tvordj on June 10, 2013
In the Salford University near the lovely Peel Park in Salford (next to Manchester) there's a lovely museum and art gallery. It's called the Salford Museum and Art Gallery and it houses a free museum and local history library. They have a reproduction of a Victorian Street, Lark Hill Place with shop fronts and a few different types of rooms from homes that reflect both the working class and the "posh" types of houses/families that may have lived in the area at the time. The storefronts, such as a blacksmiths, music shop, pub, and a sweet shop, have lots of artifacts to look at through the windows. The art gallery has sculpture and painting and there are always temporary exhibits as well. When I was there the exhibit was on the local music scene of the 60s through 80s with vintage instruments, posters, records etc. They feature lots of local artists quite often as well. There's a little cafe and shop. The building is completely accessible with ramps and lifts. There's a lovely park, Peel Park, behind the university if you're so inclined for a stroll. There are lots of busses that go by The Crescent and Salford Station is nearby as well.
by tvordj on May 26, 2009
First off, Lyme Hall and Park is not in Manchester, it's on the outskirts, just past Stockport in Cheshire. It's an old manor house on the edge of a huge park, all part of an original estate granted to the family in the 1400s. The house dates back that far but mainly the current house dates from the 16th and 17th centuries. The house is open to the public (for a fee of course) and you also pay to park in the parking lot. The gardens are really nice too and that also costs. We just got a ticket for both house and gardens to cover it all. The family were Jacobite supporters and the house has exquisite tapestries, furniture and art. I really enjoyed it. No photos but i did manage to take a stealth shot in the chapel. Most of the rooms had people standing in them that you could talk to for information and we had a nice chat with several of them. The gardens near the house were very nice. There's a reflecting pool out on the south front with a little island in the middle which is all flowers. Very pretty! This house was used for the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, the series with Colin Firth that made many a heart flutter with his swim through the pond behind the house. Lyme Hall was used for that series but the lake wasn't the little pool by the house, it was a bit further afield out in the park. The gardens had a greenhouse/orangerie with lots of flowers and plants and a few fountains and we had a peek in there as well. We had lunch in the cafe which is in the cellars, low arched ceilings! They had a small menu with a couple of specials, drinks and desserts. The food was a bit different, venison which was done in a sort of stew with potato topping all baked until crispy. Was quite tasty and very mild. I suppose it was farm-raised venison rather than wild like i've had in the past. There's a nice gift shop as well for cards and books. The park is extensive, with deer and sheep and a great place for a walk or hike. The house itself can be accessed by wheelchair if you let them know you need assistance. It is a National Trust property so if you have a membership, you can get in free. They do guided tours of the house for small numbers of people (no large groups) between March and November. The house is open, 11 - 5, March through November but closed on Wednesday and Thursday. In winter it's only open on weekends. The park is open every day all year between 8 and 6, a bit later in summer. The gardens are open every day between March and November, weekends only in winter. The timber yard coffee shop in the park is open all year round. Admission pricesGift Aid Admission (Standard Admission prices in brackets) House & garden: £8 (£7.20), child £4 (£3.60), family £20 (£18). House only: £5.80 (£5.20), child £2.90 (£2.60). Garden only: £5.50 (£4.95), child £2.75 (£2.45)
The Royal ExchangeTh used to be just that, a stock exchange and financial institution in the centre of Manchester. It's in a magnificent building with gorgeous stonework and high plastered ceilings inside. It's now a theatre but one with a difference. When you enter the building, inside in the middle of the building there is a structure that looks a bit like a space pod. This is the theatre. It is in fact a theatre in the round. Inside, the stage is on the floor, surrounded by "banquettes", and the seats can be on the ground level or rise around it up into the seven sides of the steel and glass "pod". It can seat up to 700! They sometimes sell the banquette seats on the day of a performance for a reduced rate, if there are any available. There is also a smaller studio type theatre for more intimate productions which seats 120. I've seen several performances in the theatre, all top notch. They do a wide variety of theatre from classic (Ibsen, Chekov) th Shakespeare to modern drama. You will likely see top names on the marquee and excellent performances. As it's right in the centre of the city, there are plenty of restaurants for pre or post dinner nosh. You can buy tickets online or at the box office and prices are fairly reasonable. You won't likely be paying London theatre prices here. The most you will *usually* pay is £25 but there are discounts available for various groups including people with disabilities, pensioners, preview showings etc. There's a bar and cafe in the theatre as well. There is an elevator for access off St. Anne's Square and wheelchair spaces are available. For this type of seating, you must contact the box office direction rather than use the website. People with disabilities get their tickets half price as well as the same for a companion. They are on the corner of St. Anne's Square across from the Arndale shopping center and one street over from Deansgate.
*NOTE* Urbis is now closed. The building houses the National Football Museum now. Urbis is a modern museum that celebrates city life. It was a millenium project that opened in 2002. The building looks like a big glass wedge and tapers up as it rises. The museum has five floors of revolving exhibits so every time you go, there's something new to see. There are lots of interactive displays and exhibitions with subjects such as architecture, design, history, culture, lifestyle and all things urban. This exciting building is surrounded by old historic buildings including the Manchester Cathedral and is easy to get to. It's near Victoria station and busses serve the area fully. There is a cafe on the ground floor called The Social and a nice restaurant on the top floor called The Modern with fabulous views over the city. The museum is free and accessible for disabled visitors and families are welcome.
This is a little off the beaten track and a lot of people who live in Manchester don't even know it's there. Ordsall Hall is a manor house, parts of which date back to medieval and Tudor times though other parts of it have been altered over the years. It's on the Salford side of the Irwell, not too far from a tram stop (Exchange Quay on the Eccles line). Any bus that is heading to Salford Quays will come close, if you get off by the Copthorne Hotel and walk about 200 yards) but busses 71, 73, 84 and 92 stop right outside the hall. It's free to visit and you might even see one or two of the staff dressed in Elizabethan period costume as I did when I visited there. There are often groups from local schools and they have activities for kids on as well. The upper floor often has some exhibition from local artists and photographers which is also interesting. They are open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays, closed on Saturday and open on Sundays just in the afternoon after 1 p.m. There is a tiny gift shop area and no cafe though there's a hot drink machine. *NOTE* As of 2010, Ordsall Hall is shut and being renovated. It is due to reopen in 2011
by tvordj on May 22, 2008
This is one hotel that I would not recommend at all. Our experience was dismal and from what I have heard, it hasn't really improved much. It's a budget hotel (approximately 60 - 65 pounds per night for a double/twin) within about 20 minutes walk to Manchester city center and 10 minutes' walk from the MEN arena and is on the Salford side of the Irwell. The bar was open late for residents, that was about the only good thing about it. The beds were hard, single beds barely wide enough to be called "single". If you book a triple room, the third bed is actually a bunk bed cross ways over the two singles on the floor. Staff was lax when we were there. NO idea if they still are but I wouldn't be waiting to find out. The sheets were left on the floor one day, the bunk mattress was still down across the two singles on another day. Three of us in the room but we were *never* left three sets of towels. They continually forgot to replenish the toilet roll. Stay away from Stay Inn on Blackfriars road.
We found this new restaurant in the Manchester city centre and as the price was right for lunch and it was a buffet with a very wide variety of choices, we went for it. The restaurant is a buffet style with many different international tastes. They have Italian, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Mexican, British and they have a large dessert buffet including an ice cream sundae counter and a Belgian Waffle counter. The restaurant is set up with a section for each of the main ethnic areas. There's a starter area with salads and crudites and there are other tables set up with a variety of different items. The sweets are a droolworthy temptation. There's quite a lot of vegetarian options as well in each of the ethnic choices.Some things are only available in the evenings including the sushi bar and the Belgian Waffle bar. The food was all fresh and hot and really good. They do charge in the high range for drinks but most buffet restaurants do the same in my experience. The restaurant itself is a good size and the chairs are armless and comfy. Lots of windows make it bright. The decor is red and black with white tablecloths and there are plenty of wait staff to clear the dirty plates to make room for your next lot.The restaurant is one floor above street level with a bar on the ground level but there's a small lift at the back of the bar to get up to the restaurant if you can't do stairs.Favorite Dish: It's all good. The Belgian Waffle buffet would be amazing (though we weren't able to partake as we were there for lunch and it was an evening-only item). The sweets were all little bite sized so you could sample a few. The Indian curries were quite nice and the Tex-Mex items were tasty too. None of the foods we tried was overly hot and spicy though it's possible some of the Indian food might have been hotter. We paid 7.99 pounds for lunch (price range chosen is the evening cost) but it's a bit higher in the evenings. Still a very good value for your money, though. We didn't have to book but in the evening you might want to. You can book online at the website. There are a half dozen branches around the country (Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, and Northampton in addition to Manchester).
We spent a very relaxing evening at the Metropolitan in West Didsbury, close to Whalley Range in Manchester recently. The venu is quite large, with a pub on one side and a more formal restaurant on the other. There's a large outdoor seating area as well for nice weather. They have a parking lot as well with free parking, always a bonus. There are fireplaces, and also some large screen televisions but they aren't intrusive, not in the section where we were sitting. The menu had interesting choices, a step above the usual "pub grub" with vegetarian options available, with good sized portions and some very interesting drinks choices. We had some cider, raspberry and also a pear cider which was delicious! They do a breakfast (opening at 10 a.m. so it's more of a brunch) and they do afternoon tea. Most main courses between 10 and 15 pounds with a steak at nearly 20 as the most expensive thing. The sandwiches and starters are under 10. I think our total bill was about 90 pounds for four people including a drink. http://www.the-metropolitan.co.uk/
by tvordj on May 25, 2010
Henry J. Beans is a franchise restaurant, based on American style bar and grille type eateries, serving burgers, steaks and and ribs. They are more expensive than the run of the mill pub as many franchise places tend to be. They have been known to serve some of the best burgers and indeed, we've eaten in the Printworks location once before and been happy with it. Sadly, this time around we were very much underimpressed. The service was really slow. They kept saying they were really busy but it didn't look overly so to us. The burger was tasteless, just like cardboard. I had nachos which were not all that great. Just, ok. For the price you pay, you expect a lot better. We should have gone across the hallway to the Weatherspoons pub!
This restaurant is up a flight of stairs so not easy to get to for anyone with mobility issues. I've been here with a very large group before (2000) and both the service and the food were excellent. This time around we were 10 at the table but the table seemed too small for us. The drinks orders were slow in coming and sometimes the wait staff forgot to ask everyone for reorders. The rest of the evening was one service disaster after another. They didn't provide us with a circular movable platform for the center of the table to make passing around the dishes easier and when someone finally complained loudly, we did get one. Which was broken and we had to gingerly turn the glass ourselves and hope it moved.They brought two courses out at once instead of one at a time, further confusing and crowding the table as everyone tried to reach and pass. The one waitress kept elbowing one couple, leaning around them and at one point one man received a beer right down his back! Alan spilled another one trying to move something else out of the way. The music on the sound system was horrible, pan pipes playing every kind of music except Chinese. The piece de resistance was a lovely dish of prawns which suddenly acquired an extra bit.... a big blue bottle fly that was hovering landed in it, got stuck in the sauce and wiggled it's little legs helplessly while the 10 of us collectively moaned loudly... ewwwwwwwww! The waitress seemed to find this amusing but took the dish back to replace it. Hopefully with something new but it took us 15 minutes of warily contemplating the fresh replacement before anyone had the nerve to try some! To top it all off, yes it's possible to further wreck this, they buggered up the bill! The manager was sought out, he who had conveniently NOT managed his restaurant very well tonight, having found plenty to keep him busy behind the bar instead of being aware of the problems going on under his nose. The events of the night were explained, which they *think* were confirmed by the staff but not speaking any Chinese, they had to take that on faith. The manager offered them 30 pounds off the bar bill (which was about 50 pounds between the 10 of us). He wouldn't extend that to the entire 50 so we took it and then counted out the money to pay the 235 pound total bill to the penny! No tip. So that's quite a lot of money they ended up losing over all. We took the thirty pounds and, discovering that our favourite Copperface Jack's was closed, spent it on a round or two of drinks at Lass O'Gowrie on Charles Street.
Nawaab is an Indian curry buffet restaurant in the outlying town of Levenshulm just outside of Manchester city centre. It's a huge family restaurant with a very long buffet including salads and desserts. There are a lot of choices to pick from and various levels of "heat" in the curry. They cater for families and have a small bar as well. It's all long tables and it's noisy but the food is excellent and you can't go wrong for 11 quid per person for all you can eat but that does not include the price of drinks. One warning, and there is no alcohol served at this restaurant nor can you bring your own. The meat is 100% Halal. They do take most major credit cards. There is a good sized car park in the back and a supermarket next door where you can park. There is a ramp for disabled access. There are choices for vegetarians though not a huge number of main courses that I noticed when we were there.
The Greater Manchester Area is fairly well served by an extensive bus network with the addition of trams but there is also a free shuttle service around the city centre. The Metroshuttle runs three lines coded by colour, orange, purple and green and they services all the main areas and attractions, also connecting the train stations (Salford Central, Oxford St., Piccadilly and Victoria for the MEN arena) and central coach station in the city centre. The shuttle is free and the stops are signposted throughout the area. They run in one way circular routes about every 5 - 10 minutes, depending on the route. The website has a downloadable map for the routes and the site lists all the stops as well. I've used it several times and it's really convenient. Free is always good, too.
Manchester is a major hub so it's not difficult to get here. The main points of entry are the Manchester Airport and Piccadilly railway station. Manchester also has several other railway stations including Victoria (in Salford), but they all terminate at Piccadilly for arrivals. There is a taxi rank on the lower level and the free link shuttle stops out on the main concourse as well as city busses which stop there as well. Manchester airport is international as well as domestic, has three terminals and all the usual amenities including taxis and car rental services. The airport is serviced by the trains that take you into Piccadilly and if there is maintenance work being done on the rail line, they will provide you with a free bus into Piccadilly instead. Chorlton Street bus station is the main port of entry for long distance busses/coaches. It's a short walk from Piccadilly station in the city centre. National Express busses are coming and going from here all the time and another more recent alternative is the Megabus service which came out with cheap cheap cheap routes to major cities for anywhere between 1 and 5 pounds per person. National Express now has some competitive excursion rates so check them both. National Express might be slightly more comfortable and they do have more destinations to pick from but if you're going to a major city from here, Megabus might be a viable alternative.
There are bus timetables and maps available but if you have online access, here is a very useful journey planner. You plug in an address, location or postcode for your start and end locations and it will give you several of the best options for getting there, using a combination of walking, busses and trams and approximate time it will take to complete the journey. You can also look up a bus number and it will give you the timetables.You can also get the time of the next bus texted to your mobile phone. On every bus stop sign there is a code on the bottom. You text that code to 84268 and you will get a reply with the time of the next busses. There's a 25p cost for the service. You can download a pdf file for the timetable for any bus number, on this website
There are a number of different options for using the bus and tram here. The tricky part is that there are several bus companies in Manchester and you can't always just transfer from one to the next company. You'll have to pay separate fares. That can add up quickly so make sure you ask the driver which company your ticket can be used on. You also need to keep a close eye on the bus company for another reason. There might be more than one company running a bus on the same route using the same route number! You can, of course, just pay as you go and pay the driver but you'll need to tell him where you're going. It might be cheaper to buy a return ticket so ask but again, it likely is only good for that same company. The best option, if you aren't sure and may need to use more than one company, is to get a day saver pass that is good for all companies. You can get a day pass that's good for after 9:30 or all day including peak morning hours. A company called System One is delegated to sell these tickets but you can get these from a driver, a ticket machine at the tram (Metrolink) stops, and train station ticket offices. Not all of the day passes are accepted on trains and trams, though, so ask for one of those specifically if you are going by those routes. Day Saver System One passes are going to cost you between £4 and £4.50 (bus only. passes including the tram, off peak usage, will cost you a couple of pounds more). Other bus day passes, depending on the company, are usually between £3 and £3.50. Here's a general list of prices and companies. Tram prices depend on how far you're going. Day passes for tram only are also available. You need to buy your ticket on the platform before boarding the train and if you are caught without a ticket, you will be fined. There are concession, disabled and child fares available and over 60s can get free transportation if qualified.
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