Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM – home to one of the most prestigious football teams in the world, we headed to England’s second city to see The Reds live in action at Old Trafford.
You may be surprised to know that the city’s first civilian settlement was associated with the Roman fort, Mancunium. Fun etymology fact: the suffixes -chester, -caster and -cester, are commonly indications that the place is the site of a Roman military camp or fort.
Fast forward to the Industrial Revolution and the city becomes the largest marketplace for cotton goods. Known as the “rainy city”, Manchester’s damp weather was perfect for spinning cotton and spurred a huge population growth due to it’s prosperity in textiles.
Today, I describe Manchester similar to Chicago with a mix of industrial warehouses and modern architecture. With clean streets, friendly people, and charming design with the worker bee symbol prevalent throughout, we were really impressed with the city.
Ok, but first tickets…
How to score tickets as a non United member? Sportsbreaks.com is a sports travel agency that packages tickets and hotels, making it easier for non members (and foreigners) to get tickets. Although at elevated prices, they are able to guarantee match tickets without having to go into the draw. It was also important for us have refund flexibility in case the match was postponed due to Covid. In our package, we chose to stay at Moxy in the Spinningfields district. Great location, swanky, affordable, and in the middle of the action. Plus, you receive a United membership with your purchase which means you’ll have the ability to purchase tickets through the draw for later matches, 10% discount at the official store, 50% off the stadium and museum tour, and an official Manchester United scarf mailed to your address.
Before the Game – ARRIVE EARLY and head to the pub! Many bars across from Old Trafford are for ticket holders only. For a 5pm match, we arrived at 1pm and The Bishop’s Blaize was already shoulder to shoulder with fans chanting. Great atmosphere and may I add the beer is cheap!
Dishoom – our top spot for Indian food. A Bombay Irani cafe so authentic that I didn’t realize it is actually a small chain in England. Since 1949, and this very day, Bombay has been under a state of prohibition – but from their list of creative cocktails, you’d never know.
Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza – run, don’t walk, to this place. High likely there will be a wait for a table, but head back to the cozy bar for a Negroni or gin cocktail and take in the aroma from the pizza oven. The Cinghiale was our favorite.
Armenian Taverna & Restaurant – exceptional dishes from eastern Europe including Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan. The khachapuri and khinkali did not disappoint. Gave me a strong feeling of eating at my in laws house.
This And That – hot lunchtime spot. Cheap eats with 3 curries and rice daily menus.
Albert’s Schloss – this place is wild as it comes alive for live performance, music, and cabaret at night. They describe their restaurant turn theater as “a retreat for recreation, indulgence, pleasure, and debauchery.” Plus, they have my favorite beer, Kozel, on tap. Great German cuisine, recommended for lunch or dinner + show. Reservations required.
The Ivy – beautiful aesthetics at this three story restaurant (Brassiere, Asian, Rooftop). Very dapper door men greet you and waiters in similar dress provide high level of service. It gives off a New York City jazz scene vibe back in the 50s with a major floral focus. Reservations required.
Pubs / Bars
The Old Nags Head – Georgie Best’s favorite pub (and ours too!), this spot pays homage to the fallen footballer and other famous British & Irish athletes.
Sawyer’s Arms – neighborhood pub close to our hotel. Gathering spot before (and during) football games for all teams
Arcane – great underground cocktail bar
Others include: Tib Street Tavern (big screens to watch football), The City Arms, and The Vine Inn.
Takk (icelandic, independent coffee bar), Idle Hands, and Foundation.
#1 -the obvious…head to a Manchester United match and tour Old Trafford.
John Rylands Library – thought to be the inspiration behind Hogwarts! Must do while in Manchester. Extraordinary interior and still a working library today!
National Football Museum – unlike other museums in the city, an entrance fee is charged and a time slot must be reserved. Really great experience learning about the history of football, World Cup moments, trophies, memorabilia, and of course famous English teams.
Museum of Science and Industry – huge museum with original machinery, train station, and family friendly areas.