The International Writers Magazine:Travel UK
been born and bred in Manchester, I was surprisingly impressed
on my last visit. I now live in Florida and it is
four years since my last visit. Twenty years ago when Manchester
was hobbling along as a remnant of the industrial revolution,
I had an amazing vision of the Canal Street area from which I
was conducting my textile business. I imagined it as a club land,
hotel and entertainment center.
Most of the fine
buildings were in decay and I had the good foresight to buy a few at
what seems now to be ludicrously cheap. There were a whole host of expert
lawyers, estate agents, bank managers, accountants, etc., unknowingly
working for me, by telling everyone how unsound it would be for anyone
to buy old buildings, in this rundown area of the town, frequented at
night by rent boys and prostitutes. These experts helped to lower the
values of the buildings as they advised the owners to sell to the stupid
man with a big smile on his face.
I sold the last building I owned in 1992 after I immigrated to the USA.
It was bought by a brewery that has since been taken over by one of
the largest hotel chains in the UK. The area has now become the gay
capital of Europe, filled with nightclubs, bars and a whole array of
nightly entertainment on the sidewalks by watching all the gay folks
strut their stuff. They certainly know how to party.
For the non-gay men who are looking for a sexy time, Manchester has
its fair share of escort agencies and many massage parlors that can
give Bangkok or Frankfurt a run for the money, so to speak. The local
Manchester Evening News has a page full of massage parlors, making sure
no red blooded male will go hungry. There are also many discos with
great rock groups and youngsters will have little difficulty finding
a mate to chat and enjoy whatever takes their fancy.
Some years ago, the IRA destroyed a large part of the center with a
car bomb. It has all been rebuilt with great taste and style and my
hat goes off to the Labour council that have done a champion job of
overseeing the rebuilding.
For people who live or want to stay in a hotel outside the center, there
is a very efficient Metro tram service that runs from Bury in the north
to Altrincham in the south, taking in most of the city center. It is
a useful way of traveling around the city for those who find walking
difficult. Both Bury and Altrincham have traditional English markets,
Bury being the better of the two.
The shopping in the center of Manchester has changed for the better.
It boasts luxury stores such as Harvey Nicholls and John Lewis, as well
as cut-price stores such as Primark, where you can find good quality
clothing at ridiculously cheap prices, thanks to Far Eastern imports.
For a good, all round walking tour of all the fine shops in the city
center, I suggest starting from the top end of King Street, where graceful
old buildings that once housed banks are now home to top fashion shops.
Walk down to Deansgate and meander on to the Old Shambles. Then walk
along Cross Street, stopping off at Marks and Spencer for a sandwich
and fruit juice, which you can enjoy sat in St. Anne's Square, where
there are usually street musicians to entertain you as you watch the
world go-by. After a rest you can walk up Market Street to Piccadilly
Gardens, which alas, are no longer gardens, but are well landscaped
with agreeable fountains.
I stood next to a distinguished looking old chap with a small child.
We all were watching a few kids jump in and out of the fountain. The
old man remarked to the child, 'Max, those children are prats'?
The young tot gazed up with a serious frown and replied, 'Yes Grandpa,
those children are prats'? After a pause the youngster asked,'Grandpa,
can I become a prat?''
During your walk you will notices proud teenage girls and under twenty-five
women, who like to show of their assets. With low-slung jeans
with thongs showing, short skirts, low cut tops and bare midriffs. It
is a delight for the old codgers, sat around on benches whilst their
wives shop, to watch them swagger their bottoms and bounce their boobs
trying to catch the eye of their dream, hulky dish. Mind you,
I suspect most of the young men are more interested in watching the
best soccer team in the world ... Manchester United. There
is also the distraction for the lads of cricket that has taken on a
new life. England won the Ashes this year and Old Trafford Cricket
club hosted one of the matches. Rain did not stop play.
Outside the city center, it is only a fifteen-minute drive (in low traffic)
to the Trafford Park Town Center Mall. It is the biggest shopping mall
in Europe with a Venetian theme and a seventy-foot spouting fountain.
The shops offer a large variety of merchandise and compares favorably
with anything the USA has to offer regards style, price and food court.
The city is surrounded by many testing golf courses, many parks with
large childrenâ€s play areas and fine museums and art
galleries that are all free to visitors. There are many casinos, a super
new concert hall, theaters, great restaurants and sidewalk cafes. The
China town district has some of the best Chinese restaurants in the
country and you can get a buffet lunch with 55 dishes to choose from,
for only five pounds ($9.00)
Manchester is located in the central part of the UK, even though it
is known as the North West and is a great center for visiting all parts
of the UK. London is only two and a half hours by train, but if you
go by road be prepared for slow moving traffic or even gridlock because
there are traffic jams on all main motorway's (highways) every working
day of the week. I guess that is called progress, but overcrowded roads
causing many accidents is a poor price to pay. BBC Radio Two, has half
hour bulletins on traffic delays. If you plan to drive anywhere,
make sure you take plenty of water and a few snacks incase you get caught
up in the road mayhem.
The Lake District and the West Riding of Yorkshire have wonderful countryside,
are only two hours from Manchester and are well worth a visit. In addition,
no visit to Manchester would be complete without going to Blackpool
for the day. The biggest funfair in Europe and many other attractions
too numerous to mention...And super fish and chips at the Cod Cottage.
The best months to visit are May, June and September. The kids are in
school, the weather should be fine and the hotels should offer off peak
prices. I was in Manchester in September, the weather was sunny, cool-to-warm,
and very few days of rain...Maybe even the title 'rainy city,' is changing
for the better.
Manchester is most definitely a city reborn. It still has high crime,
as do all big cities. However, it is sure to impress any visitor. The
new buildings have great style and the whole of Manchester has a fresh
sexy swagger and an air of confidence filled with friendly people that
will warm the cockles of your heart. Two thumbs-up for Manchester
as one of the best cities in Europe for a business conference, a short,
three-day vacation or a dirty weekend break, leaving the kids with the
Michael Levy's new book "The Joys of Live Alchemy" is now
available at all bookstore.
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