February has finally arrived! The last month was a little bit tense for me and my classmates: January was marked by intense studying, tension for the upcoming exams and low temperatures (Brrr!!!) Now that exam period is over and we do not have many assignments (yet), I thought of sharing with you some very cool day trip destinations to kick start the semester like a rock star. I hope you enjoy my selection, as these are my handpicked favourites!
She’s got a ticket to ride! Next Stop: Liverpool
Only an hour away from Manchester Coach Station, Liverpool is guaranteed to be one of the best day trips you can do! National Express busses will get you there quick and cheap and my recommendation would be to arrive as early as you can, so you can make the most of your day. If you are a Beatles aficionado, you will feel like in heaven because there are so many things to do related to the legendary band. There’s a Beatles Story museum (worth the price!) in Albert Dock and there is also a Magical Mystery Bus Tour that will take you to famous places like Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and the childhood homes of John and Paul. And If you still have time in the afternoon, you can visit the Cavern Club, a very nice reconstruction of the spot that made the band famous.
If you are not a Beatles fan, the city has plenty to offer too. There are a bunch of Museums to choose from. Fancy modern art? Then, visit the mesmerising art collection at TATE Liverpool. Are you interested in learning about the city’s history? You must visit the Museum of Liverpool and you will be surprised by the photos of WWII, when the city received almost 1 million American soldiers, prior to the D-Day invasion. However, if you ask me about my favourite Museum, I will say that you must go to the International Slavery Museum. I know it sounds odd and disturbing, but the exhibitions will make you reflect and you will gain some nice insights.
As a final comment, what I really liked about Liverpool was its skyline as seen from the docks. From there, you will see a mix of heritage buildings and modern architecture that is not common in our industrial Manchester.
Travel back in time and get lost in York’s shambles
I have never seen a place so ‘medieval’ as York. The whole city seems to be frozen in time and I think you should definitely visit to see it for yourself. Although it’s a bit further away than Liverpool, it also makes a perfect one-day destination departing from Manchester. If you travel by bus, you will have to switch buses in Leeds, making it a 3-hour ride. My recommendation will be to travel by train to get there; it might be more expensive, but it only takes one hour.
What I enjoyed the most, was simply walking around the city. If you take a look at the city’s map, you will see that the center of York looks like a maze of winding alleys and narrow streets. You might be walking in circles without even noticing it, but that isn’t a problem because every corner has a unique store that will catch your eye. That is why I believe that one of the best ways of discovering York is taking part in one of the numerous walking tours that are offered. They have a wide range of themes to choose from depending on your interests: City Walls and Roman History, Sweets and Chocolates Tour, Cat Sculptures Walk, and a Graveyard, Coffin and Plague Tour. I didn’t have time, but if you book a late train for your return, they even do Ghost Tours!
For lunch, I will recommend visiting the Shambles, which is a collection of old streets that have food stands all over the place (see picture below). My strategy was to buy small plates from each vendor, so I can taste different kinds of street food. If you are not into street food, you could also try one of the many traditional pubs of the old city center. When I visited, I went to a cocktail bar called the “Evil Eye”, which I highly recommend if you want to try a huge variety of English Gins.
If you like architecture and buildings, you must visit the York Minster, one of the largest cathedrals in UK and a remarkable example of the finest Gothic architecture. I felt very small when entering the building! If you are short on budget, you can skip entering the Minster, but make sure to walk around the building, which is very impressive, even from the outside.
Coming up next: Chester!
My next day trip destination is Chester. I am planning to visit the city next Saturday. I have heard that the walls that surround the city are impressive and Roman era heritage constructions are everywhere (including the Eastgate Clock and the Roman Amphitheatre).
Plus, there’s the Grosvenor Museum which includes a range of different exhibitions, and I’ve heard that you cannot miss the original 13th century buildings!
I might be writing a blog post with my suggestions soon, so wait for it!
I hope that you enjoyed my blog and if you are an International Student studying here at Manchester, make sure to visit these magical places that are very close to the city!