If you want to find out what's going on in 'alternative' Manchester - go to the Basement. A space for people to meet, eat and take action on a range of social causes. There's also a shop stocking a range of ethical and vegetarian wares.
24 Lever Street, Manchester
Once you have explored the varied architecture, trendy shopping and vibrant cafe culture of the city centre and want a more laid back, yet very chic urban experience, take the number 111 or 46 bus from the city centre and get off by the Metropolitan pub on Lapwing Lane or Burton road (about 3.5 miles south of the city centre). This is the heart of West Didbsury. It is full of chic little boutiques, retaurants, bars, curious little shops, art shops, furniture shops, a couple of small supermarkets and so on. Everything you need concentrated into a small area, full of really nice people.
The age range here is much lower than the national average, having said that there are plenty of more "mature" people coming here for the excellent restaurants.
Best place to start is with a laid back coffee or glass of wine (perhaps light lunch) at the Assembly. Sit outside on the veranda if you can. It's great for people watching. If you are there in the evening, perhaps try the Lime Tree next door(also has a veranda) which is one of the most sought after restaurants in the city and then I recommed trying the One Lounge bar on the corner of Lapwing lane and Burton road or M20 cocktail bar not far from there down Burton Road. Also the magnificent Metropolitan Pub/Restaurant (opposite). It's one of the most famous pubs in Manchester.
From West Didsbury you can either walk or drive about a mile to Didsbury village. Or take the 23 bus. Didsbury main high street which is also known as Didsbury village (though villagey it is not!) is the more traditional but still very fashionable part of the area. It's much larger than West Didsbury with even more restaurants and shops than West Didsbury, but perhaps more of a traditional family environment with slightly older crowds than West Didsbury. There is still a younger crowd in the evenings and weekends, especially on sunny days, with pretty much all the bars and restaurants having outside seating. I would recommend eating at Felicini Italian restaurant. It's one of the best known in the city. You probably need to book ahead though (as you do for the Lime Tree in West Didsbury).
look up post code M20 2WS on multimap.
Fantastic deli full of wonderful treats to tempt you. Buy bread in Harvey Nicks or Selfridges in Manchester and you can be sure it came from here: but not at quite the same price! The staff are friendly and the shop is bursting at the seams with gorgous nosh.
Take the 86 bus from town and get off by Unicorn food co-op in Chorlton next stop after the baths.
The best independent record shop in Manchester specialising in world music, country, folk, jazz etc. Nick and Simon are very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and happy to order if it's not in the shop. Stop being lazy and ordering on the net and come here instead!
61 Thomas Street
0161 833 0003
An independant Arndale centre where the conventions of society are subverted and allowed to be sampled in any other form you may require. A number of retro clothes shops mean that a healthy boho atmosphere is achieved and perpetually reinvented by each year of subsequent students looking to find their own identity, although usually only achieved when working within strictly defined parameters. Find so much here, it is worth a full day out in itself.
Reach Piccadilly from Arndale and turn left.
While in town, visit the farmers market in the Place Marcadieu, Thursday mornings, and search out the cheese man with the longest queue. I say nothing about the hygiene of his set-up, which would probably break multiple EU regulations, but his cheeses are astoundingly tasty. The Halle Marcadieu has recently been renovated, and is the perfect setting for this bustling market, sheltering around 200 stalls selling fruit, veg, honey, meat, fish, bread and cakes.
More goods, edible and otherwise, are sold in the square outside, including clothes, old and new, and bric-a-brac. In the adjacent Place du Foirail, also on Thursday mornings, is a flower and live poultry market - the latter not recommended for vegetarians!
It's an easygoing exploration of the architectural sights of Manchester city centre. Will also take you past some very nice bars, restaurants and shops.
Be spontaneous if you can and pick a sunny day, start at about 11am. Manchester doesn't get much more rain than most of the Southern English cities (and certainly less than Wales, Scotland and South West England) so there should be plenty of opportunities!
Start at Sackville Street and explore that area first. There are some magnificent buildings and if you are new to the city you will find yourself confused - it often reminds me of continental European cities (particularly northern Europe) with its mix of rich Victorian and gothic styles. Walk through Canal Street (Gay Village) as well, not far from Sackville Street and make your way towards Oxford Road.
Take a look at the magnificent Palace Hotel and have a drink at the Cornerhouse bar (on the first floor) which also gives a good view of the surrounding hustle and bustle. Then head towards the Central Library (the round pantheon-like building next to the Town Hall) and have a good look at the surroundings. You will be stunned by the variety of styles and ages of the architecture. Explore the various side streets around there and the Town Hall.
Then head to Cross Street and walk down towards Victoria Station from the top of Cross Street (where it crosses Princess Street/John Dalton Street). You will go past the various shops and bars. But when you first get to Cross Street, have a coffee at Caffe Nero near the start: to me it feels like Milan in Manchester!
Once you get to the end of Cross Street you are at the heart of the city centre main shops: Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, all that is in that area. Have a look at Urbis and Victoria Station, which you can spot from the area behind Selfridges (it has a big screen across a shopping centre called the Triangle). If you are hungry by then, try a late lunch at Wagamama (outside the Printworks, across the road from Urbis). From there walk past Harvey Nichols which is by the Manchester Cathedral and head towards St Anne's Square to take in the continuing varied architecture. You have a medieval looking church (St Anne's I think) in the middle of a Victorian architecture shopping centre.
Just before the church is the Royal Exchange Theatre in the middle of the square to the left. Go in and have a look. When you are inside the main building and look up at the very tall ceiling, you will be stunned! I won't spoil the surprise though. Anyway, go up to King Street past the Church, explore the boutiques and then take a right and head to Deansgate (a few yards’ walk) and then turn left and head towards the new Beetham Tower skyscraper.
Once you get there, there is a nice restaurant called Dimitri's that does Spanish and Greek Food. If it's summer sit outside at the back. It's lovely. And then finally finish your architectural walking tour by transporting yourself thousands of years back to Roman times at the Roman ruins and remains of the old wall just off Liverpool Road (which is where the Museum of Science and Industry is). From Deansgate, if you are tired of walking, you can get the number 2 free bus that takes you back to just outside the Cornerhouse - not far from where you started at 11 am!
A splendid new coffee bar in the dynamic Vesterbro neighbourhood. Translated as "Black Coffee & Vinyl" this tiny coffee bar sells quality java to rival anywhere else as well as doubling as a record shop featuring sleazy-listening, moog-pop, electrotrash and acid-folk on vinyl.
It don't get much groovier than this, baby.
Skydebanegade 4, Vesterbro, Copenhagen, right by Istedgade, the main strip in the Vesterbro neighbourhood;
Open: Tues-Thurs 8am-6pm, Fri. 8am-7pm and Sat/Sun 11am-7pm
Hoi An is a great place to get clothes made to measure. Choose something from the local designs on display, take along something you'd like copied or a photograph (shops usually keep a selection of Next catalogues and fashion magazines for inspiration!) and choose your fabric.
By the next day and for a few US dollars (I had a silk dress made for $12 and a suit for $20) you can get a whole new wardrobe made to measure, including shoes.
And if you overdo the shopping and run out of space in your bags, the local post office are experts in shipping parcels home.
There are over 100 tailors shops all around town - hotels and guesthouses can usually give recommendations.
More than just a second-hand books and vinyl trader. This shop also sells a range of hats and acts as somewhere you can find out about left-of-centre events going on in Bristol. The profits from their Banksy print t-shirts go towards local NGO Kiptik which supports development projects in the Chiapas region of Mexico.
82 Colston Street, BS1 5BB;
tel: 0117 933 0909
An acronym for All The Tea In China. This is a cafe inspired by visits to San Francisco and by a desire to 'make tea sexy.' They have an array of fresh teas that aren't straight out of a Twining's box bought at the supermarket. All the teas are for sale from the shop to take home. They also cater for coffee lovers.
115 Coldharbour Road, Redland BS6 7SD; tel: (0117) 909 0357;
The famous medieval, house-bearing bridge that would probably win the prize as the most photographed Florence icon. It spans the Arno in the centre of the city and probably affords the best views of this often disappointing river from its central open arches. The houses are now mostly shops selling jewellery, leather goods and other expensive designer items, but it’s not obligatory to buy anything of course. After all, it is just a bridge, and still works perfectly well as such.
This is a cosmopolitan place with a river running through the centre of the town flanked by tree – lined streets. Dappled sunlight filters through the limes and sycamores that shade the footpaths along the boulevards, while enormous drifts of hanging baskets garnish the bridges and stone walls.
Everywhere there is a buzz of different languages and accents in the shops and bars. There is a greengrocers here with the freshest garlic, the sweetest of peppers and the most succulent mangoes.
This town is a retreat for the rich and famous, “…and did you not see Madonna a moment ago?”… or “… Bob Geldof was only saying the other day…” hence the gourmet quality foods in the shops.
The town is honeycombed with bars all doing pub grub with lots of seafood dishes. Mick Molloy’s, John Joe O’Malley’s, The Porterhouse …And live music at night that goes on to…
Saint Georges English Bookshop is located in Prenzlauer Berg and specialises in good-quality second-hand English books at a reasonable price. They also have a good selection of new books and offer to order in books. Staff are very pleasant and go out of their way to accommodate unusual requests. The shop's also furnished with comfy Chesterfield sofas, which makes browsing even more enjoyable. Once a week they have a movie night, for which you need to be registered on a mailing list.
Woerther Strasse 27, 10405 Berlin; tel: (030) 817 98 333;
Transport: M2 to Marienburger Strasse, or U2 to Senefelder Platz
Post-revolutionary poster art was used to promote movies for three decades after the revolution. Some of these stunning hand-printed posters, in blocks of dense colour and influenced by eastern European and Japanese design, can be bought for a few dollars from the shop at the ICAIC (national film institute). They look very cool framed and hung on the wall back home.
ICAIC office, next to the Chaplin cinema, Calle 23, 1155, entre 10 y 12, Vedado.
The alternative (and best) part of town as far as I can see. Londoners will recognise it as a genuine, more truly independent Camden. Authentic food from many countries, an anarchist bookstore, numerous cafes and clothing stores.
Backs onto Chinatown off Spadina Ave.
Run by a Chilean family, this is a deli with an emphasis on Fairtrade and organic produce. Upstairs there's a small cafe where on Monday nights you can go to practice your Spanish with latinos living in the area.
89 Gloucester Road, Bishopston, BS7 8AS; tel: 0117 944 6810
Reflecting Easton's eastern outlook is The Sweet Mart. Bills itself as the largest supplier of ethnic foods and spices in the south-west, something confirmed by its well-stocked shelves.
80 St Marks Road, Easton BS5 6JH; tel: 0117 951 2257
Stapleton Road Station on the Severn Beach suburban line from Bristol Temple Meads;
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