Manchester has a rich industrial history background. Back in the days, Manchester had lots of textiles factory, which also used to be referred as “hives of activity”, in which the workers inside the factory is often compared to bees. Based on this, the coat of arms of Manchester is a “bee”, which can be found in many many places (Figure 1). Additionally, the hexagonal “bee hives” pattern also can be found throughout the city, including in the Manchester Airports and events such as TERMIS-EU 2023 (Figure 2).
Figure 1. “Bee” of Manchester
Figure 2. “Bee hives” pattern found in Manchester Airport (left and centre) and TERMIS-EU 2023 event (right).
Manchester is very diverse, we can see people from various ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds. There seems to be no discrimination, as workers in hotels, event coordinators, professors, researchers, all come from diverse background. Generally, people are nice and jolly when talked to.
For daily life, most of the payment in Manchester is “contactless” payment, with some places even exclusively only accept “contactless” payment. (homeless and street performers also had “contactless” payment!). We can pay using credit card or Apple Pay. Cash is rarely asked. From 1 week in Manchester, only once I was not asked with the contactless payment, but, even that place also had the “contactless” payment. So, it’s okay to bring only few cash to UK.
For communication, most public spaces have Wi-Fi, so we can connect to their free Wi-Fi. But, the speed is varied between the places. We can purchase the SIM card without pre-contract in the supermarket, such as Sainsbury’s, about 10-12 pounds for 8-10 GB of data (Figure 3a). Unfortunately, my phone was not unlocked, so I couldn’t use the SIM card. So, please make sure that your phone is unlocked before you change the SIM. Normally, we should be able to rent a Wi-Fi device in the airport. But, I couldn’t find one in Manchester Airport. But, larger airport such as Heathrow in London should have that service.
Figure 3. (a) UK SIM card, (b) Teriyaki Udon, (c) Vegetables and Fruits, (d) Bread, chocolates, and sweets in Sainsbury’s.
Mentioning about Sainsbury’s, this is similar to 7-11 or Lawson in Japan. Very convenient. Here, we can get a variety of foods and snacks, including vegan sushi, Inari, fresh noodles Japanese Teriyaki (Figure 3b), fresh vegetables and fruits (Figure 3c), as well as fresh breads and sweets (Figure 3d). In addition to Sainsbury’s, we can also go to Tesco as another option for convenient store.
Not quite sure what is the local Manchester food. Quick search showed Eccles cake, but, unfortunately I couldn’t find it. And, when I asked around about what is the local or unique foods of UK, the local always said Fish and Chips! Fortunately, I got to try one. The owner was kind enough to show me the process of making the Fish and Chips and the Curry sauce! One surprising thing is that the portion is quite large. The fish is big (for me), And honestly, very fulfilling! Combination between the curry sauce, tomato sauce, hot sauce, and mayo (Figure 4), is heavenly. 10/10 would recommend!
Figure 4. Fish and Chips with Curry
To get around Manchester, there are several modes of transportation, such as Tram, Bus, Taxi, and Train. Tram is the most convenient one, based on my experience. Most of the commuters in Manchester just use the “tap-in/tap-out” method using their credit card or Apple Pay. The platform also has no gate, so, just walk into your platform (Figure 5a). The tram is available every 6-12 min. We can also directly by a ticket using the machine (Figure 5b) or buy a 7-days ticket through an application called “get me there” (Figure 5c). In addition to the tram, train is also available, although it is more useful for far distances (Figure 5d). For the train, we need to purchase the ticket I will explain more in my “Go to London” post! And we can also ride the bus (Figure 5e, it’s actually London Bus, but, nevertheless, the appearance is similar to bus in Manchester). All of the bus were double-decker.
Figure 5. (a) The tram in Manchester and the tap-in/tap-out machine. (b) “Get me there” application and (c) manual ticket for Tram. (d) Train in Manchester Piccadilly, and (e) bus.
Probably, most people know Manchester best from their football clubs: Manchester United and Manchester City. Fortunately, I managed to visit both stadium. First, I went to “Etihad Stadium” which is the stadium for Manchester City (Figure 6). From the Manchester Central area, we can use the tram from Deansgate-Castlefield to Etihad Campus. April 1st 12:30 pm was the kick-off time of a big match between Manchester City vs Liverpool, which is also important for the championship run on Manchester City who is currently 2nd behind Arsenal in the Premier League table. So, when I went to visit Etihad Stadium on April 1st, I got to go there with the Manchester City supporters! Not sure if it’s correct, but I heard that most citizen who live in the city area of Manchester supports Manchester City, while those in other neighboring regions supports Manchester United. Anyway, the stadium was nice! Since I don’t have much time, I couldn’t watch the match. But, Manchester City won 4-1 to Liverpool!
Figure 6. Photographs of Etihad Stadium.
After going to Etihad Stadium, I went to Old Trafford, which is the stadium of Manchester United. Compared to Etihad Stadium, Old Trafford is closer from Manchester Central Area, only two tram stations (Trafford Bar) from Deansgate-Castlefield using the Manchester Airport Line.
(Note: after experiencing Japanese train system, it is quite easy to understand UK train system).
At the Old Trafford, in addition to their stadium, there is also “United Trinity” statue outside, with various photographs of Manchester United legends and current players/coach. We can also visit their megastore to purchase jerseys and souvenirs (Figure 7). I’m not sure if it’s an isolated occurrence, but no TV in the stores near Old Trafford showing the Manchester City match (I visited the Old Trafford during the Manchester City match). Perhaps, the rivalry is that deep. Especially since Manchester United is 3rd in the Premier League table behind Manchester City, at the moment.
Figure 7. Photographs of Old Trafford.
In addition to these football team stadiums, we can also visit “Castlefield Viaduct”. Based on the information, Castlefield is the birthplace of Manchester, and where the world’s oldest surviving railway station and canals that drove the “Industrial Revolution” is located! In fact, the name “Castle field” is believed to be caused by the presence of the Roman fort in the location. We can still see the remains of the old Castlefield, and the railways were now converted into a beautiful park (Figure 8).
Figure 8. Castlefield Viaduct.
Finally, during a random strolling around Manchester, I got to go to The Manchester Museum, Manchester Metropolitan University, and The University of Manchester (Figure 9). These three places can be reached by walking in the same street! The building around this area is huge and classic. We can also buy Manchester Souvenir shop in the same street.
Figure 9. Left to right: The Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester, and Manchester Metropolitan University.
Overall, it is unfortunate that I did not get to explore all of Manchester, including the many interesting pubs, which for some already stood for hundreds of years. However, Manchester is definitely a unique city, with modern and industrial past intertwined beautifully. The people were diverse, non-discriminating, and nice. Hopefully, other members of Sakai-lab can experience Manchester as well in the future!