Manchester - A home away from home (well sorta)

As I walked with Mary-Lou and Lama away from the snaking path that led from Manchester Piccadilly Station, I was filled with trepidation; would Manchester's inner city sights and sounds be a match for my home town?

I had been to Manchester twice already. The first time made me homesick, you see on our way to the company's "Curry Night" we came across a flyover. This flyover was a dead ringer, a doppelganger for the Paddington Green flyover which intersects with a derelict car park1 and Paddington station. I go under this flyover everytime I return to London, it is a welcoming sight to let me know that home is just a fleeting distance away. It's close to our family friends the Matta family. At the time I wanted to get out of the car and start walking over and visit them before making my way to the parental unit's domicile.

Who would have thought that a poxy flyover would induce a yearning for a heavily polluted and congested capital?

And when we reached Rusholme, whose name at the time was mistakenly thought of as "Rushmore", I had conjured up images of Mount Rushmore with its presidents past looking outwards to the future of a fledging country. Well duh... I feel stupid now (see Document History). But at the time I thought it was a cool image to have flash into one's mind.

The part of Oxford Road that runs through Rusholme itself is best described as the Las Vegas of the North (forget Blackpool) with an asian influence. The bright neon lights whose seductive charms won't leave you flat broke and penniless but instead filled with a curry flavoured satisfaction.

The second time I visited the fine city I was really disappointed because the closest it could bear any semblance to my town was a dual carriageway that leads to Uxbridge and further still to Oxford. In short it looked nothing like my town.

So here we are back to present time, the here and the now. As we walk down towards the city centre I come across the neon lights of a hotel. Already this place was taking on look alike properties again. At which point Lama pointed out that this was "Piccadilly" after all. We then started to note the many similarities2 in names of places between Manchester and London.

Manchester I could only guess was a fledgling city with the foresight to realise the potential of the automobile. Unlike its older sibling whose claustrophobic road ways choke it like cholesterol blocked arteries.

My night's festivities passed with dread of Monday's repercussions as my co-workers would recall my drunken actions in great detail. On the way to the station I got a chance to admire the architecture of the city which is really quite exotic, a sort of post-modern meets gothic. I regarded what appeared to be a buried park hut which was the source of great amusement for the rest of the bus journey.

I'm sad to report that unlike Las Vegas "The curry mile" (Oxford Road) in the cruel light of day is the mistake that you wake up next to in bed after a night's drunken escapades - it looks so plain.

For some reason I had a panic attack in the bus; I thought I was about to miss my bus stop so I jumped off. Of course I got off at the wrong stop, I was at "St. Peter's Square". Getting lost is usually a bad thing for me but it was Sunday the city was still sleeping off its hangover from Saturday night's excess, so I figured what the hell, I'll go exploring. I would now get a chance to further imbue the city's architecture, this time by foot. Something I immediately noticed was the streets, they were wider. To get across safely would require your average London jay-walker to step up their usual nonchalant stroll to a healthy canter.

It's so like London and yet so like a big American city... I think I'm in love.


1 I'm pleased to inform you that the derelict car park is now being developed into a series of apartments and offices towers overlooking the canal (which is part of the "Little Venice" district). Yay for redeveloping my broken down town!

2 Which seems to have evaded me.... oh let's see they're both cities, they got people and cars! Wow! They practically twins


Document History
03/FEB/01: pjd has confirmed it's St. Peter's Square. Per his advice (and a quick check on google I've amended Rusholme drive to just Rusholme.

11/OCT/01: Stealth Munchkin has advised me that the "curry mile" is infact a part of Oxford Road that passes through the Rusholme area. Furthermore I've made my own changes to the wording and updates such as the derelict car park.

18/FEB/02: Albert Herring gets props for noting that "intrepidation" don't exist.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN MANCHESTER

Since the IRA bombing of Manchester in 1996, a large portion of the City Centre has been rebuilt. This includes:

The world's largest Marks & Spencer store
Printworks - includes IMAX cinema and Hard Rock Cafe
Water Features
Sculpture
Relocated Olde-Worlde pubs

Other features in the City Centre include beautiful architecture, statues, a completely overhauled waterway cafe-bar district along the rivers used in the Industrial Revolution, Chinatown, and a huge commercial district. Much of the area is being redeveloped for the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Outside the City Centre, places of note include Rusholme (as mentioned above), Didsbury (known for it's parks and nightlife), Fallowfield (students and cheap pubs), Moss Side (crime and Manchester City FC), Trafford (Salford Quays waterway development and Manchester United FC), and many, many others of highly varied atmospheres and states of repair.

For the casual tourist, I would recommend sticking to the centre as there is so much to experience there, but if you're staying for a while, be sure to visit some of the suburbs to get a real feel for the place.

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