We took a rather spontaneous trip to England last week. I say spontaneous because we bought the plane tickets 1 week before we left. It was possibly the craziest thing we've ever done. We decided to do it because the flights on Norwegian Air are ridiculously cheap. We flew out of Las Vegas, and the seats on their 787 Dreamliner were much better than I was expecting them to be (more legroom). It wasn't complete torture like I was imagining a non-first class 10 hour flight might be (since we were sooooo lucky last summer when we got to fly first class to London).
We did have a bit of a scare on our way to the airport. I had forgotten that my passport is from my Jerusalem days many moons ago, before I got married, and has my name as Corina Cox, and we booked the ticket under Corina Sorensen. I'm glad that we figured out the problem before we were standing in front of the border patrol officer, but unfortunately we had to pay big bucks ($120!) to have my name changed on the ticket. After that little hiccup things were smooth
We flew into London Gatwick and took the Gatwick Express to the Victoria train station. From there we hustled to the Euston train station to catch the Virgin Train to Manchester. I was DEAD tired on the train ride. I tried really hard to stay awake (to fight the jetlag) but ended up sleeping for about half of the 2 hour ride. Upon arriving in Manchester (on Valentine's Day), we went and checked into our hotel (the lovely Manchester City Center Holiday Inn Express) and then figured out how to get to the Trafford Center. I had read that the Trafford Center was a great place to eat. The Trafford Center is a HUGE mall, and the food court which has at least 40 different restaurants (not just to-go style places but actual restaurants) is divided into different themed cuisines. So there was a cajun section, an Asian section, American, etc... We decided to eat at a Thai buffet, and it was a quite delicious Valentine's Day dinner. After eating and wandering the mall a bit we headed across the street to the Asda Walmart Super Center, which we wandered for a while and then headed back to the bus stop to go back to the hotel. Both on the bus ride there and back we drove passed Old Trafford, where Manchester United plays.
The next morning we woke up, enjoyed some toast, eggs, sausage, and beans from the continental breakfast at our hotel and then headed to see the Town Hall and a few other sites in that area. The buildings in Manchester were unreal. They were so ornate and old and huge. We wandered around and saw the Town Hall, the Manchester Cathedral (with newly restored pipe organ), walked passed the National Football Museum (and played some soccer outside with an old man), went to a cool store, Oklahoma, in the Northern Quarter (where we bought some presents for the girls), St. Ann's Square, and most importantly stumbled upon the best Cath Kidston store (best because it was 3 stories and had a HUGE sale room!) where I just had to buy a new purse.
We grabbed lunch at a little Mexican type place, Changos Burrito Bar, on Oxford Road near our hotel. We got a combo meal because it said that it included a burrito, a drink, and nachos. The nachos ended up just being chips though. Those English need a little lesson about what nachos are. After lunch we headed to the University for a tour, which turned into us spending 5 hours on campus. The tour started with a little presentation about the uni (as they call them over there), and had a little Q&A with some current students. They also took us all around the main part of campus and told us about some of the more predominant buildings. After the tour finished we went and explored the more northern buildings on campus and even got to see some of the engineering labs. While we were exploring around campus we also saw the cool LDS YSA building and talked to some sister missionaries inside. I truly love that stepping into a building like that halfway around the world can feel the exact same way as it does at home.
For dinner we headed back up to the Northern Quarter. We ate at Trof, which was quite tasty. Jordan got a really yummy burger and chips and I got some chicken and beans. After dinner we grabbed a milkshake at Archies and it was honestly the best milkshake I've ever had in my life. We got the Princess Pia Mia, which had Kinder Bueno, Oreos, fresh Strawberries, Whipped Cream and a Wafer Straw. DELICIOUS!
The next morning we packed up our bags, had some more eggs and beans for breakfast and then checked out of our hotel. We left our bags there and headed back to the Northern Quarter to check out Afflecks. I had seen this store mentioned on a few different Manchester "Must Do" lists so I wanted to take a look. It was a crazy store, not quite my favorite kind of store, but very interesting none the less. I had read that it was a really eclectic store with something for everyone. It ended up being like the largest (4 stories) Spencers/Hot Topic type store and believe it or not, those are just not my stores. After Afflecks we went back to grab our bags from the hotel and then to the train station to head to Nottingham.
^^We felt like no matter where we were in town (not really) we could see our hotel, even from the train station.
Just for fun, here are some of the links I liked with information about visiting Manchester: Top Things To Do in Manchester, A Guide to Manchester, The Best 24 Hours in Manchester, and The Manchester Bucket List.