July 12th, 2020
Last week I got lucky: work sent me to Manchester! I was over the moon when I got my wish to go somewhere, anywhere, for the first time in over three months. Turns out my genie isn’t the most generous though, as I had to go just before everything (besides shops and take-away restaurants) reopened. Let’s call it tough luck, but a chance to escape my little lock-down cocoon for a couple days was a privilege and I wasn’t going to let bad timing be a damper.
The UK welcomed me the best way it knows how: 13°C and teary skies. However this is not the summer one would expect, I loved it! Living in the desert makes me long for sweater weather, and Manchester was extra chilly last week, so I had to layer up. Bonus!
I started the day with a grab-n-go breakfast bagel from a local restaurant. Inside, staff were busy unstacking chairs and arranging furniture in preparation for the next day’s big reopening.
One of my colleagues suggested we do something touristy for the day. We were lucky to find the Gothic-looking Manchester Cathedral open for a walk-through. Just in time as well, for the drizzle seemed to get heavier by the minute.
Besides the cathedral, shopping was the only indoor activity available to us, but it was only noon and I still wanted to walk around to take in Manchester’s medieval architecture. For the first time ever, I decided to give up my cool act and buy a brolly. Can you guess what happened next?
Yes. It stopped raining.
My cute little Primark brolly did come in handy as a prop, though. With no one around to feel shy for, I played Mary Poppins on Canal Street. Sometimes you’ve just got to be your own entertainment, don’t you?
Canal Street brought back memories from my first visit to Manchester, when we enjoyed the vibrant nightlife of one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods, Gay Village. With that being exactly a year ago, this trip felt like an anniversary. I wouldn’t mind going back every year!
The mall was a social-distancing maze. Arrows indicated the direction you’re supposed to walk in and I kept finding myself on the wrong side of the track. Toilets were also a mission to find, as they sectioned off an entire set of toilets for men only, and another for women only on the other side of the mall. I’m not sure what the point of this was.
I was happy with my decision to spend more time exploring the city and less time trying to keep up with all the Rona-rules at the mall.
The day still had one little surprise in store: skylights! This means that Manchester may have something going on in its underbelly. Touring Seattle’s Underground a few years ago sparked my interest in this topic and now I always notice sidewalk skylights. If you know anything about Manchester’s underground structures, do tell!
Though short, this trip was like a breath of fresh air (literally!) and gave me hope that life is slowly going back to some level of normal. I’m sure the city must have been overflowing with people on the day that I left, but thinking back I actually enjoyed it without the crowds.
Genie knows best.
Thanks Sam for teaching me new British terms like “brolly” 🙂