So i’m gonna write about my FIRST trip outside of Sweden!! Writing it because well when people ask me what I did I honestly could not remember other than ‘Oh we went to this place. Eat. Slack around. Eat. Come back’ when there are actually lots of other mini things that my brain just conveniently forgot! Apparently many of these things aren’t “memorable” enough; but I say they are worth writing down because ten years down the road, I am gonna read this and think, ‘THANK GOD I WROTE IT’. Or I could be like ‘Why did I write everything down…’
So this trip was kind of a last minute thing. My sister was called up to do a Singapore-Manchester-Houston flight, and told me about it. I was suppose to meet her during March instead, but I was like heck why not just meet her now since I wanna escape the cold for a little while (but as it turns out…well, read on).
So I booked the flight tickets a few days before I went off. Which was expensive for a student, but reasonably priced. Used skyscanner, the individual websites of SAS, Norwegian,etc, and found that SASYouth offered a balanced option- cheap and convenient. Just 1 hour bus ride from Flogsta (including one bus change). Decided to fly back from London (Gatwick) instead as the tix back from Manchester to Arlanda was 85+ euros itself already, while the one from London was 50 euros. Even though I kind of planned for overseas trips before, this was my first time doing everything by myself and honestly, it felt quite overwhelming at first. Checking and comparing prices, timings, seeing if my schedule fits- and the fact that I am flying from London meant that I had 3 days alone- meaning I had to find things to do that can be done alone. In London. #lonedon. I also conveniently forgot that I would be alone during CNY and miss some CNY dinner back in Flogsta 😦 but all is well as I think my trip was worth it in the end!
Enough of my blabbering- I decided to go find my sister as well because… freeee accommodation heh heh. For the first 3 days in Manchester, I stayed in the Midland Hotel. It is a pretty high class hotel. What did I dooooo?
As it was my first time going on a plane alone, I decided to be super kiasu. By that, I mean waking up at 3.30am when my flight is at 7.25am. Leaving Flogsta at 4am, taking bus 5 to Uppsala Centrum and then bus 801 to Arlanda airport. Total cost was 66 SEK. I reached the airport around 5.15am? As I already checked in online via SAS i didn’t need to print a boarding pass, but did anyway at the SAS booth because I never boarded a plane using mobile boarding passes before lol and also because its free. The customs queue was short, and waited at the gate since 6am- so I was early by ~1.5 hour. Wow. Earliest I’ve ever been. Its okay. Also, the reason why I am so kiasu is because I missed a flight quite recently- back in late December 2015, from Taiwan to Singapore. The shock I felt when I saw the gates closed, the staff denying us entry to the plane, and finally, the plane flying away from us, literally, right in front of our eyes… LOL. But anyway, that’s another story. Omg, I haven’t even reached Manchester yet I am already talking so much irrelevant stuff. Anyways…
I know when I look back i’ll be like ‘this is so lame’ but then again it’s my first time (ALONE)!!! Taking a bus, plane and then train to another foreign land… it is quite magical by itself heh. I don’t think I have pretty pictures, but I know these pictures will be second chances to walk down the memory lane again, and that is what I cherish the most.
Basically walked around the main town area- i.e. manchester hall, manchester art gallery, john rylanda library [interior is quite cool but the main part was closed for filming :(].
also.. saw the iconic red telephone booth that i thought was only located in London and decided to run to it like a tourist and take a photo with it. but well, my conclusion is that its nice to see but aint nice to smell.
Had some thai food afterwards @ Try Thai Bar and Restaurant. The food is a little pricey for a student, but it is generally not bad. AND the main purpose of it is to satisfy our cravings! Wew. I miss Asian food so so so much. Our food is featured in a little video I made, which can be found at the end of this post!
My sis heard that the manchester museum was one of the top attractions so we decided to walk there (but took a bus back cuz we were tired n it was quite far from our hotel)
There were some CNY decorations too because it was well, CNY.
We also went to PRIMARK! I think the stuff is really quite cheap, but of course, I am not sure about the quality. Bought a down lightweight pink jacket for myself for 15 pounds- and so far its been quite good. Oh and a cute little unicorn hot waterbottle which I unfortunately have no picture of (but you can see a glimpse of it in the video).
[wow its rly tiring to blog… i dont think i can keep up with this man]
ALSO as I said at the beginning of this post, I wanted to escape the weather at Uppsala [which was, now that I think of it, not too bad- it was around -3 degrees when I left.] BUT I THINK I BROUGHT THE COLD WITH ME because Manchester the previous day was like 7 degrees but the next day it went down to -1. While Uppsala went up to 5 degrees?! ASDIOASFJOSAD. but all is good because i am prepared!!!!
Ok so day 2- we went to…
for those who are unfamiliar (like me before i went this place), Old Trafford = Man Utd (football) Club stadium. So i think Man Utd fans will go crazy. unfortunately, there wasnt any match on, so we went for the stadium tour which was pretty cool too! the guide was very enthu about giving the tour and evidently a very strong supporter of man utd haha.
so after the museum tour, walked towards the river, near Mediacity UK, but lol the views was kinda meh and if we could do it again we would skip this [perhaps it would be better in summer. everything is.]
anyway!! we went to eat korean food after that, near our hotel. wooohooooooo
once again, cravings satisfied!!!! 😀
went to watch a musical, Sweet Charity that evening. omg lol honestly…
i am gonna sound ageist but there were mostly older people in the theatre and i was quite doubtful of the show. plus, the theatre isnt the typical musical theatre you see in Singapore’s MBS or esplanade- its like a circle theatre. Like so small. Its 3 levels.
and im glad to have been proven wrong. it was such a nice experience, the theatre small but this meant you could see everything (as compared to when you get cheap seats for a normal theatre and cant see shit) – and the actors were re-used several times but this just shows how multitalented they are. i loved it. in fact, i’d put it higher than Cats. Wicked is #1, Phantom is #2, Sweet Charity would be my #3. [at the point of writing, i’ve watched 2 other musicals in London – Matilda and Kinky Boots but i shall not mention them until i write about London]. I thought the show was gonna be lame. maybe it is an expectations kind of thing. i love the italian guy, i love the main lead, i love how the interval break was carried out- the actors walked in from behind, carrying a torch and saying the words ‘to be continued’.
i would really recommend anyone to watch this if you 1) have only watched the conventional musical type of style 2) love great live voices
oh one thing i realised was that the band was live, but it wasn’t real. meaning- it was done by 1-3 people. they used programs, synthesia, etc, but it sounded really good and i really respect their work- i sometimes wish to learn how to do this kind of things haha. so yay!!
so we kind of did most stuff in the town area and wanted to go out of town and thus a trip to Lake Windermere launched~
Took a train from Manchester Piccadilly (changing at Oxemholme) to Windermere, I think it was about 20 euros for a return tix but i can’t remember.
Even though Lake Windermere was known more for activities in the summer, it was still a nice place to go for a hike or walk along the lakes/mountains in late January, where it was about 5 degrees celcius.
Went to Orrest Head, a short 20minutes walk/hike from the station.
We then passed through the small little town en route to the lake (seen in the video).
And for my 4th day, I hobo-ed in Manchester until it was time to take the night bus. During the day, I bid farewell to my sis and embarked on my first solo trip…!
Hobo-ing around the hotel for its free wifi, I went to check for directions to get tickets for Billy Elliot the Musical; my plan B was to go to a standup comedy by The Comedy Store. It was raining heavily but I didn’t bring any umbrella so I just put on my hoodie and when I reached the Palace Theatre, I realised it was closed and that tickets were also sold out. Sad. Its okay, I still have plan B right? Walked for quite a while towards The Comedy Store, only to find out it is still closed. Looking back, I should have checked the opening hours or bought the tickets online. Not wanting to do nothing at night, I managed to grab a discounted ticket online for ~13 pounds.
I wanted to explore somewhere new in the day so I went to buy an all-day tram tix for 5 pounds and boarded the tram from St Peter’s Square to Bury.
I was so hungry by the time I reached Bury (about 35min tram ride?) and I wanted to try their black pudding as well so I ordered a breakfast set for myself!
It was super shiok and delicious but having a small stomach, I could only finish 70% of it (and that is after taking breaks). This was my first meal alone, and it felt weird. But i think it felt weird because the seat I was sitting at, was facing the cashier with no barriers between us; while the other seats were in a 2 by 2 kind of seating arrangement (facing other). I felt quite pressurised to eat quickly and couldn’t really enjoy taking my time (I eat super slowly). But anyway, the breakfast set that I got can definitely fill up 2 people’s tummies.
Having replenished my energy, I went to explore a little bit of Bury- and since it was a saturday, they had this huge market going on whereby I swear, if I was still hungry, would have bought more stuff to eat. They have cheap, grilled, whole chickens for only a few pounds and their one pound shop was so so so cheap! I regretted bringing so much things because I couldn’t buy it back. Their markets have everything- clothes, electronics, food, random stuff. It would really have been nice to come with a group of friends so I could buy more varieties of food to try AND an empty bag so I can bring it back to Sweden hahaha. The only thing I bought were some chocolates.
Anyway, decided not to explore so much of Bury because I went there for the East Lancashire Railway- I heard it was pretty nice to go on the train and hike up at some of the stops. Apparently, there are two types of train- the steam-powered type or the normal diesel one. I took the diesel one there because of better timings, but honestly, when I came back via the steam-powered one, it looked pretty much the same to me and I was not really that impressed.
So i arrived at Ramsbottom (reminds me of Ramsay Bolton lol) and was ready to head towards the Peel Monument!!!
IT started off well. I was following the signs, and the weather was quite nice. But somehow, I got lost. Amongst the roads, where cars speed like mad. It started drizzling. Then raining. The path I was following didn’t make sense anymore. It looked so slippery and like, it was so ulu. Honestly, if someone kidnapped me nobody would even know. Maybe i’m being dramatic but it was really quite scary for me, since it was my first time travelling solo. The path eventually led me to a war memorial place, which made for a nice break and also like a good sign because at least I’m not stuck in some foresty shady area.
I then saw the peel monument. However, I wanted to go back because I was afraid i’ll miss the train back, so I asked for directions back. However, perhaps a part of me wanted to just continue on despite the odds, so somehow, I walked towards the path towards the monument. It then started pouring. I was rewarded with a nice aerial view of the town when hiking up, but well, I was also rewarded with a little too much rain.
Finally made it, but well, it isn’t so impressive. But people are still coming here, jogging, with their dogs as well!! Its so nice to see dogs all around and running so freely, and it just makes the hike up worth it :’) Also, that’s how I got this photo haha. I was like trying to take a selfie but failing miserably, and I think this dude saw and decided to help me take HAHA. Also, sometimes the monument would be opened and you can actually go up and see an even better view of the town and its surroundings. That day was obviously not such a day.
Hiked back down, trying a shortcut path. It was slippery but quicker indeed. Thank god i did not get lost.
Later that night, watched a stand up comedy. Apparently, it contains lots of British humor because like I don’t freaking get it half the time. I find myself laughing only at jokes that doesn’t need understanding of British contexts. I also found that some of the jokes were quite crude- like, it wasn’t really a high level of humor, but I guess maybe its just me. However it was quite an experience and I think people around me really did enjoy it because they were laughing at almost everything (but when I found the non-British jokes quite funny, others found it SUPER FUNNY. don’t know if it’s just me not being easily impressed or having no sense of humor/wit :O). There were 4 or 5 acts, and an emcee. but i didn’t really like the emcee though, felt like he was being rather crude.
Anyway, went to the national express coach station to wait for my midnight bus to London… which I will talk about in my London post soon 🙂