During a trip to Australia in 1997, I was lucky enough to have been invited to have dinner at Doyle's on the beach in Sydney.
One of the enduring images and impressions I have of that very warm February evening, was to see the sun set over the harbour looking towards the city far away in the background.
The sun was sinking fast behind the skyscrapers - it was an amazing sight, and at that moment I had the urge to call home. I took the mobile out of my pocket, and rang to speak to my mum and brother. It was early in the morning in the UK (11 hours behind Sydney at that time of year) and I said to them, "Has the sun come up over there yet?". They replied: "Yes, just about. Why?"
My response was: "I just realised this is about the only time of the day we can see the sun at the same time from opposite sides of the world."
The Gallery provides a large collection of great permanent and special event art exhibitions which would interest all ages.
All sorts of works from all periods of art history, including paintings and sculptures. The building itself is architecturally very interesting with its new all-glass section connecting two parts of the main buildings. Other galleries in the area worth noting are the Whitworth (on Wilmslow road across the road from the hospitals) and the Lowry centre (in Salford Quays).
Mosley Street, not far from the Central Library and the Town Hall.
These are some nice districts to explore. Not far from the city centre, the high streets of the following areas are nice to walk about with good shops, bars and restaurants. Chorlton, Fallowfield, West Didsbury, Didsbury.
All within 3 or 4 miles of the centre. Chorlton high street spreads out from the junction of Wilbraham Road and Manchester Road. Fallowfield from Junction of Wilbraham Road and Wlmslow Road. West Didsbury highstreet is on Burton road, from junction with Lapwing lane southwards and also along Lapwing lane. Didsbury from junction of Barlow Moor Road and Wilmslow road.
One of the best Chinese restaurants in the city. It occupies the ground floor and lower ground floor.
The upper restaurant is the main one with a huge menu and very friendly and efficient service to your table. The food quality is superb and the place is extremely popular with a wide range of customers. The downstairs restaurant is my personal favourite. Ever since they established the all you can eat oriental buffet there, I have been going on a regular basis.
The choice is huge, especially in the evenings (Monday to Saturday) and all day Sunday. The price level varies depending on what time you go. But if you want a good value buffet-style meal anytime before 4.45pm Monday to Saturday, then this place is very hard to beat. Currently the cheapest price is £4.95.
The more expensive times (after 5pm Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday) are also good value because the food variety expands with a lot more seafood options, for example. I tend to go there before concerts or theatre evenings, because you know you can just walk in and be seated straight away and start helping yourself as soon as you are shown to your table.
Its location near the Palace Theatre and also the Bridgewater Hall is extremely convenient for pre-event dining.
44 Oxford road, near Portland Street and Central Library and Palace Theatre.
Most people know how rapidly Manchester has been transforming over the last decade. But nowhere can it be seen more in real time than from Deansgate. If you stand at the Spinningfield stop for the free buses 2 & 3 (right by RBS bulding and the newer of the Wagamama restaurants) and look towards either end of the long street, you will see how it has changed and still changing. Also with the restored exterior of the John Ryland library, the old architecture is ever present with the new. Look behind you from the bus stop (away from Deansgate) and you will see the new business/law district coming up with modern architecture. It's very exciting as a resident but even more interesting for visitors.
Spinningfield stop for the free buses 2 & 3 on Deansgate by RBS building.
As the title says, try one of the many boat trips or, if you like, hire your own, on lake Windermere. One of the most spectacular of UK Lakes, and the boat trip helps with relaxing and enjoying the views.
Bowness on Windermere
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is one of the best things about the city. It was brought to fame by Sir Simon Rattle (now with the Berlin Philharmonic) in the 1980s.
Easily the most important of recent cultural heritage about the city, since it's one of Birmingham's very few claims to international fame. The city has a long way to go to catch up with the likes of London, Manchester and Glasgow in terms of self belief, culture and progress, but if it gets more of the likes of the CBSO as home grown talent, then it will go a long way.
Manchester Central Library is not only architecturally impressive with its neoclassical style (shaped like a pantheon), it also houses a huge collection of publications on various media.
The shape of the building is circular so, when you are on one of the upper floors and you walk along, before you know it, you find yourself where you started without realising you're going round in a circle.
The building also houses the Library Theatre which regularly hosts high profile productions.
St Peter Square (tram stops there too) next to the town hall. www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries/central/index.htm
The streets within the walls in the city centre are like double decker rows of shops. Walk along the upper rows for an alternative view of the streets and shops. Then take the steps up to the wall at Eastgate clock - great views of the streets and a good place to start your walking tour of the city as seen from the Roman walls.
You can pretty much circle the entire city centre by walking the wall and getting a different vantage point and contrasting views and points of interest on either side of the wall as you go round.
World class orchestras, giving live performances all year round at the Bridgwater Hall. As well as giving fantastic symphonic performances, the programs often include concertos with famous soloists from all over the world. Recently we saw Sabine Meyer performing the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic at the Bridgwater Hall and it was a fantastic performance. I think it was also broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
If you're feeling lazy but still want to have a look around the city centre, take the number 2 free bus. It goes in a loop around the city centre so you could hop on and off because they go every 10 minutes or so during the daytime. There are two other free routes (1 and 3) but they are not as good for sightseeing as No 2.
You can catch it from outside Victoria station, Oxford Road station and various stops along the route (for example Hulme street near the BBC, anywhere along Deansgate, by Marks & Spencers at the bottom of market street).
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.
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!
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