Travel Blog

England Exploration: 48 Hrs in Manchester

When I booked my flight to the U.K. going straight to Manchester from Newark, NJ I really didn’t know much about the city other than it was a part of England that I hadn’t been to yet. Well, that and the fact that Daphne Moon from the (fictional) television show “Frasier” was from Manchester before moving to the Seattle, WA. So in the months leading up to the trip, and even while there, I was researching and following places on social media to see what there is to explore and eat in Manchester. I picked out an AirBnB in Salford which I could tell from Google Maps was across the river from city center but it seemed reasonable to get back and forth by foot or public transit. I was pretty excited to get there start exploring. I never made this far north during my past trips to the U.K.

My first adventure after arriving in Manchester (around 8 AM) was having to take the train from Manchester airport to Salford where I booked my Airbnb. I navigated my way to the train station and made my way into the city centre! I managed to get off the train at the correct station and had a very nice walk through University of Salford as I made my way to the Airbnb.

Once I got into my room for the next few days and dropped my bag I headed straight back out for my first day of exploring! Of course I didn’t know where I was going or even where I should head first so I started by directing my google maps towards a coffee shop that was situated between my Airbnb and city centre; Heart & Graft Coffee. And I am glad that I stopped there. The latte I got from Hearst was the first coffee I had on this trip and probably the best latte had on the whole trip! Maybe even the best I’ve had of anywhere I’ve been, haha.

After enjoying my very tasty latte by the river I walked across into city centre to see what Manchester, UK has to offer. I found my way to the Manchester Cathedral and after taking loads of photos of the pretty cherry blossoms outside of it I went inside to take a look. It was very beautiful on the inside!

Then it was time to eat and luckily right outside the Manchester Cathedral was an Indian restaurant, called Mowgli street food, that happens to show up on a bunch of food lists (and it looked pretty good) so I went in to try it… and it was delicious, I sufficiently stuffed myself on Indian food as my first meal of my 2019 England adventure!

When I finished eating I continued my Manchester photo walk around city centre - you know to walk off all the Indian food. After a few hours of hanging out, taking photos, and exploring Manchester I decided to walk back to the room to regroup and find somewhere to eat dinner. But then I ended up taking a spontanous nap… haha

Check out my full photo gallery from day one in Manchester below (while I decide where to get dinner).

I finally woke up from my nap and decided to just walk back to the river where there was a pub called ‘The Dockyard, Spinningfields’ where I enjoyed a nice stout called “Pearl Jet” by Marston’s Brewery (in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England) and ate a tasty Lentil Shepherds pie.

The pub got busier as I was there - it seemed like on a weekend or big night it could be quite rowdy but it was nice while I was there.

Day 2 in Manchester

Day two of exploring Manchester began similarly to how day one began - except I did have a bit more of plan than on the second day.

The main thing I wanted to do today was explore the Northern Quarter to do some street art hunting. But first I stopped at Fig & Sparrow for my morning coffee and my first scone of the trip. Then I began my Northern Quarter photo walk and one of the first pieces I found was a fairly new mural for the Netflix show ‘Our Planet’ (which had just been released shortly before I got to England).

The Northern Quarter is definitely the “cool” part of Manchester and I’m glad I got there to explore. Aside from all the street art and graffiti it is filled with little coffee shops (as any city’s “trendy” neighborhood is) along with interesting places to eat and shop. After I did a bit of a morning photo walk I was ready for more food and realized I was pretty close to the pie shop called “Pieminsters”! So I went there. I had a veggie pie that had sweet potato and goat cheese in it with the side of mash and mushy peas. It was all so delicious and also super filling! I did managed to eat it all but it was tough haha

While I was eating I noticed a store right across the street that people kept going in and out of so after I finished my pie I decided to go check it out. Turns out the store was a big indoor market called “Affleck’s”; inside there are loads of vendors many of whom sell vintage clothing and things but then there was also an artist in there and a small cafe, a comic store, and a bunch of other vendors. It’s like 3 floors at least (I forget exactly) and pretty big. I would definitely recommend going and checking it out!

Once I finished exploring the market I continued my photo walk around the Northern Quarter area a bit more before moving into the University of Manchester neighborhood.

After walking through the University of Manchester neighborhood I was ready for some food and a pint (also a place to sit and charge my phone). I walked back into city centre and decided to stop into the Brewdog pub. I’ve sort of become a fan of Brewdog beers - the first time I had their Punk ipa was 5 years ago in Wales but then I could not get my hands on it again until very recently when they built their USA brewery in Ohio. They have brewpubs all over Engalnd though so I definitely wanted to stop in to at least one some where along this trip.

Brewdog Zombie Cake, April/2019

Instead of getting food at Brewdog though I finished my pint and relaxed for a moment before going next door to eat dinner at Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza. It was here where I ate my first “meat” of trip - I got an anchovy pizza. It was pretty good! I also got a New England IPA called “Perceptionless” which is made by Redwillow Brewery in Macclesfield, Cheshire England. This hazy (New England style) ipa was very good, I would get it again!

Check out the full day 2 Manchester, UK photo gallery below!

Mobile Photos

England Exploration: Going to Local Events as a "Tourist"

One thing I like to do when planning a trip is look for what events are happening while I’ll be in a city. I’ve found that attending local events during my trips is a nice way to get a real sense of what living in that place is like. There are always all sorts of events happening if you’re going to another city. The events I tend to look for range from live music, street festivals, live performances, sporting events, tours - some free and some with a small cost.

Wimbledon, June/2014

On my last trip to England it was summer and the trip happened to line up nicely with a few international sporting events. For this next trip, however, I am looking more at what bands are playing in the different spots I’ll be in. Maybe I’ll come across a street festival somewhere too but I don’t think I’ll stumble into any internationally known and attending events this time. I try to look things up during my planning before my trip too. This way I at least have a feel for what will be going on while I’m there even if I don’t decide what I’m actually going to or not until later.

An easy way of finding local events is just by following the local news/media publications online. Every city has something that is geared towards tourists but also used to share events and news with the locals; Time Out is a big one that has a publication for many places in North America as well as the U.K. and Europe and Asia. There are sites that more specific to individual cities too, such as Visit Philly in Philadelphia and the Londonist in London. Another site I like to look at also is Culture Trip; it has articles and lists of places to go and see that are typically written by locals from whichever city you are looking at.

I already have a few things penciled in to my itinerary for this upcoming trip, but check out some of the cool events I experienced during my last trip to England.

Check out some of my favorite events that I found while in England back in 2014!

Street Festival in Southbank Centre, London

Outdoor Film & Event screenings

Sporting Events

I actually was in Wimbledon twice during this trip- we went before it started to just take a stadium tour and see the grounds. I was not expecting at that point that I’d end up actually at the tournament later on! I knew Wimbledon would be going on while I was studying in London but it honestly never occurred to me to try and go until a couple new friends also studying abroad said they were going.

Seeing Le Tour de France in Cambridge, UK was a different experience from watching an event of this scale in any big city like London or Philadelphia. We went out early that day to stake out our viewing spot along the course only to get there and find the locals going about the morning normally with no one worried about staking out a prime viewing spot (yet). It wasn’t until maybe 30mins ahead of start time when the “crowds” began filling either side of the street to see the race go by. We were out there maybe and hour or two before start time because that’s what you would need to in a city like Philadelphia. We did have a great view of the race though!

Henley. I still think about how cool it is that I’ve been there. While I was there a spectator not a racer I genuinely enjoyed observing the regatta. Seeing people with the picnic baskets, people having their morning teatime (complete with Champagne) while watching the morning races go by. I took the train from Paddington station and I admit I didn’t fully know where I was going. However I knew instantly after getting on that first train that I wouldn’t be alone. The train was packed with people in their best rowing blazers.

England Exploration: Ellen's Favorite Photos from 2014

The main purpose of my previous trip to England (in 2014) was for a Photography course at University of Westminster. The course was 3-weeks long and during the course I focused much of my photo taking on the street art of London for my final project. While many of these street art photos are some of my favorites of the trip, there are other photos from the weeks surrounding my course that are some of my all time favorites.

Street Art of East London

Shoreditch, London

Of all the the street art photos I took for my course these two shown above are definitely two of my favorites! They were both taken one day when I opted to walk from Southbank all the way up through Brick Lane and East London to take photos for my project. The fact that I managed to stumble upon several pieces with the artists actually being worked on by the artists during this walk was pure luck!

Henley Royal Regatta

Much of what I enjoyed while being at Henley was observing the regatta scene and spectators, in addition to watching the rowers themselves. Both photos above are two of my favorites from the day, I think because they seem like sights not often seen at American regattas - I mean how often have you seen two Americans having a tea party in a canoe watching rowers at Head of the Charles or Dadvails?

Cambridge, UK

This was taken in Cambridge when while we were there for Le Tour de France. I’m not sure what it is about it but whenever I see this photo I just really like it.


This was taken when we went to explore Greenwich. We took the Thames Clipper there which was cool and then took the trains back into the city. Greenwich should definitely be on your list of places to visit while visiting London. Exploring the observatory is cool but then there’s also the little town that is nice for walking around in. Then of course you could be like the people in this picture and do some sunbathing or picnicking on the hill.

Brighton, UK

Every time I look at this photo it makes me think it’s a postcard. I took it during our day trip to Brighton. As the first English seaside town I’ve visited it was very nice, and I was also surprised to find the beach full of stones rather sand.

London from the London Eye

This photo is possibly my favorite photo from the whole trip. I know the London eye is on the list of tourist attractions for many people who visit the city, but if you’re on the fence about it and like taking in different views of the cities you visit then I would definitely recommend riding the eye once.

England Exploration: A Flashback to my Favorite Moments Abroad

England Exploration: A Flashback to my Favorite Moments Abroad

We’re less than 6 weeks out from my next British adventure, and I’m having a look back on some of my favorite things during past trips to the U.K! It’s hard to believe that it’s already been nearly five years since I spent the summer studying and exploring London. That summer I had the chance to attend some awesome sporting events: Henley Royal Regatta, Wimbledon, and Le Tour de France. I had the opportunity to row several times out of Quintin boat club (in Chiswick, London). I was also able to travel to other parts of England both during my summer course at University of Westminster and separate from my course. I visited Oxford, Wales, Bath, Stonehenge, Brighton, and Cambridge.

First moments in London

Our first full day in London back in 2016 consisted of us walking along the Thames (in Southbank). We walked through Borough market (which I did loads of times because it’s a great market). And of course we stopped at a pub for a pint. It was a lovely summer day and a wonderful start to my six weeks abroad. Keep reading below to see my photos of some of my favorite and memorable foods & drinks from London that summer!

The first cider I drank during my 2016 trip in London, at a pub in South London.

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