I’m home from Manchester and … it’s time to pick somewhere new for the next trip.
Let me get it out of the way, I love Manchester, and I may very well go back for more United matches, but as soon as the game ends it’s time to move on elsewhere, if not go somewhere completely different from here on out. I’ve been to Tokyo, London and Manchester and it’s time to expand some more.
As my heritage is made up of equal parts Irish, Italian, Polish and Norwegian, I’ve been leaning towards starting to visit those countries. Ireland would of course be the easiest as I could at least speak the language, but I fear that’s playing it a bit too safe, so I’m not quite sure what I want to do yet.
Of course, I’m at least a year away from another trip happening, so I have oodles of time to think on it. And I have another CES speeding up on me, so I hav plenty to deal with first.
For the life of me I cannot figure out why British cabs aren’t everywhere in the world.
British cabs are most associated with London, but that is not the only place you find them in England. Manchester is the only other city I’ve been to in the country, and they re all over here as well. To call me a fan of these vehicles would be an understatement.
Being 6’4″, I have ridden in many cabs over the years, and there have been many where I have had to sit sideways as the barrier wall was so close to the back seat that I couldn’t keep my knees straight. And forget about New York City cabs. While I had always heard how spacious British black cabs were, it was really an understatement. I present to you, my legs in the ack of a British black cab.
I am not doing any trickery here, and I am sat as far back in the seat as possible. And you can see my feet are barely touching the dividing wall. I am behind the front passenger seat which is a bit further away than the driver side, but not by much.
There are three seats across the back, and the ad you see is a jump seat which there are two of. A total of five people can ride n the back of this cab without too much effort. If you’re traveling alone as I do, my suitcases easily ride in the back area with me when I am commuting to and from the airport without crowding me in the least.
So, why in the world are these cabs not over the world? I know they are shipped to some other countries, but is there some rule in the U.S. that cabs must be uncomfortable? Who knows, but I’ll continue to enjoy these anytime I go to the U.K.
While touring the Manchester Art Gallery I ran into a wonderful a surprise: A Banksy.
As I was taking a leisurely stroll through the Manchester Art Gallery , I was moving from the 18th century in the 19th century works when a piece in the corner immediately leaped out as being out of place. Even from across a room I knew what it was the second I saw it.
As you can see, it didn’t exactly fit in with its surroundings. (You can click for a larger view) According to the placard next to it, this was given as a birthday gift and is one of the first known copies of “We Love You.” It has gone on to be one of his most famous works and has even been used as an album cover.
I decided to ask one of the information folks wandering the gallery why it was in the 19th century room. He chuckled and told me that a few months ago it was in the Pre-Raphaelite room and that the manager likes to move it around randomly. And that was when I loved the manager as he obviously gets Banksy and the street art scene.
Serious street artists, not just your random graffiti folks, are trying to give you moments of art in unexpected locations. It is meant to engage you in situations where you aren’t expecting it, and by moving this piece around the gallery, that is exactly what the manager is doing.
On Wednesday Nov. 28, 2012 I was able to attend my third Manchester United match … and come to hate late people even more.
After a delightful pre-game evening in the Europa Suite – read: Too blasted expensive – we went out to our seats and settled in for the match against West Ham. The seats were filling up and kick-off came promptly at 8 PM. I thought I had somehow lucked out and the three seats to my left were empty.
As play began, the people for the seats showed up, and I stood up to let them in as I was in the aisle seat. As I turned to lower my seat bottom and sit back down, and … the crowd roared. Manchester United had scored. 31 seconds into the match, we were on the board and I had missed it. Ugh, stupid people showing up late, but surely that wouldn’t be the only goal …
It was the only goal.
Come on people, sit down on time!
Despite no more goals coming, we played well, had numerous attempts on goal and distinctly outplayed West Ham. The defense was enough to keep us at bay and not allow us any truly clear attacks.
All that being said, I’m thrilled I got to come back, and who knows, I may return again some day, but I doubt it. While I want to continue travelling internationally, I can’t just keep coming to England, there is a whole world out there outside of Old Trafford, and I’ve definitely got a taste for seeing more of it.
It only took two trips to England to finally make it to an actual castle, and of course I decide to do it on a day with horrible weather.
On Monday I headed out to Conwy in Wales, which was about two hours away from Manchester via train. The weather was … less than delightful to say the least. What none of the pictures will portray is it was windier than anything, and going to the top of the towers was actually not recommended, but I did anyway. I was pelted with rain pretty brutally at the top of one of them, but really the whole experience was worth it any way.
I finally decided to try a Yo! Sushi location today … I won’t be doing that again.
How would I describe Yo! Sushi … all style with no substance? Yeah, that seems pretty accurate.
For those of you unfamiliar with Yo! Sushi, it is a chain of kaiten – conveyor belt – sushi locations in England. I was at the Trafford Center mall today, in the mood for some lunch and saw the location in the second floor of Selfriedges. I figured why not finally give it a try as I do love some sushi. I should have known from the get go things were going to go badly as the hostess jokingly mocked the way I said I didn’t care where I would sit.
She takes me over to a seat at the bar next to a gentleman who looks to be a manager of some type, but no biggie. As soon as I sit down I start getting asked how I feel about sitting in the singing section … what? I just want some damned lunch. I ignore them and start perusing the menu.
The hostess comes back and asks me if I’ve ever dined with them, and I inform her than I haven’t. She begins explaining how everything works in excruciating detail, and I keep saying, “Ok … ok … OK!” and she keeps going. When she gets down to trying to explain why the plates are different colors, I tell her, and perhaps a bit snottily, that I’ve been to Japan, I know the concept. She goes, “Well then, I haven’t, but this is Yo! Sushi.”
Go … away.
I finally place my order for a raman bowl and try a plate of some of the weakest tasting salmon nigiri while I waited. Eh, whatever. I’m sure the raman bowl will be good.
Oh how I was wrong.
Weak tasting and … wait … where’s the raman noodles? Oh, there they are … in a tiny lump that has been clearly dumped in from a package. Now, I understand I’m in a fast food place, but seriously, one lump of raman in an entire bowl? If you’ve ever had a proper raman bowl, you know there are tons in there, and they sure as heck aren’t something like you would find in a grocery store.
So, this is when I finally turn to the guy sitting next to me and ask him, “Are you some form of manager?” He tells me he is and wants to know if there is an issue, and I tell him that the food is disgusting. I explain to him that a raman bowl should have more than 10 noodles in it and that they shouldn’t appear to have been just dropped out of a package and left to sit as is. He informs me that he won’t be charging me for the bowl and I tell him that’s a good thing, and I departed.
I understand fast food isn’t exactly high cuisine, but I’m sorry don’t you think something advertised as a “raman bowl” should at least have a decent amount of its namesake product?
I always had a feeling this place would probably suck … guess I should trust my instincts more often.
The main thrust for this trip was two Manchester United matches. One down, one to go.
As I said after last year’s game, I didn’t know if I would ever get this chance again, but things luckily worked out. Luckily it was a better result that last year where we ended up in a 1 – 1 draw with Newcastle United. This year I at least got to see a 3 – 1 win over Queen’s Park Rangers. The match was definitely not with out its drama, however as QPR got the first goal in the second half and we had to catch up and pass them. Of course, seeing as we were in second place in the league before today, and they were in 20th, even that shouldn’t have happened.
As with last year, I post an image other than the game because of some odd rules about posting pictures of the game online, so instead I give you the Sir Alex Ferguson status that was installed at Old Trafford yesterday.
The next game is a night match on Wednesday night against West Ham. Here’s hoping things go well.
Let me just say, I am now a really huge fan of airline miles.
After last year’s so-so flight, I used miles this year to upgrade to Business class for the flight over here, and I’m going to have a hard time going back to Economy. Yep, I’m spoiled now. Sadly no luck on the upgrade yet for the return flight, but I’m on the wait list.
So, this year’s inaugural picture? I took the tour of the Old Trafford stadium – which was amazing how much access they give you to the facility – and this is the time capsule that was installed for the 100th anniversary of the grounds.
Overall the trip is off to a good start, although I may have over done it today, but I’m sure I’ll be all up to speed tomorrow in time for the Manchester United Vs. Queens Park Rangers match. Here’s hoping for three points!
As I looked back over my trip last year, I enjoyed the heck out of it, but out of the eight days I was there, only two of them were in Manchester and the other six were spent in London. The only bit of countryside I got to see was on the train ride down to the capital, and that was it. London was fantastic, but I felt like I really had only experienced that city and not the country itself.
So when the Manchester United match schedule was published for this year, I noticed they had a home game the Saturday after our Thanksgiving, and another the following Wednesday. Could I really pull off going to two Man U matches in one trip?
After some ticket digging, I could indeed, and I started booking the trip. The major change this year is that I am spending the entire week in Manchester and going out to smaller towns through out the vacation via train. I will essentially be using Manchester as my hub and exploring more of the north part of the country this time. So far my plans are to visit Conwy Castle and … I don’t know what else yet. We’ll see.
I don’t plan on making England an annual trip, but the stars aligned again for me, so why not take advantage of it?
I’ve decided that I’m heading back to England this Nov. for a multitude of reasons. However, unlike last year, I will be skipping London and just hanging out in Manchester and the surrounding area all week. While I loved London, I felt like I didn’t really experience the country. So my plan is to see two Manchester United matches, and the rest of the time I will be taking train rides out of Manchester in the morning and returning in the evening.
On my to do list this year is the ultimate cliché: I want to see a castle. Now, there are a lot of castles dotting the countryside, but the large majority of them are in ruins. After a lot of research I settled on Skipton Castle. As the crow flies, it’s only about 40 some odd miles from my hotel, so I figured it would be the perfect choice as its in great shape and fairly close.
Then I looked up the train situation.
There is no direct train from Manchester to Skipton. Instead I would need to take a train to Leeds which is East of Skipton, and then travel North with the entire journey taking about three hours … each way. How does a 40 mile distance turn into a six hour round trip?
I opted to email Skipton Castle to ask if I was missing something, or if perhaps they knew of a solution. I got a pretty prompt and eye-opening reply.
After Beeching made his railway cuts in the 1960s the direct route to Manchester was lost. Unfortunately the only railway route is now via Leeds. There is a campaign to re-open the 11 lost miles!
A total of 11 miles of railway is turning what should be an hour or less trip in to three hours.
Is it just me or does this seem incredibly silly? It’s been bad enough as I’ve watched the railways be torn up across the United States, but now to learn that a country that is famous for traveling by train, and really spearheaded the concept, can’t keep an 11 mile stretch open that would greatly alter the travel for the Northwest and Northeast portions of the land is just silly to me.
As I begin to plan out the rest of my trip, I wonder what other obstacles I may run into of this nature.
For now, it looks like Skipton Castle is off my list as I just can’t give up six hours of time to just riding on trains in a single day. Heck, even when I went from Manchester to London last year that was only three hours, I at least got other things accomplished that day.
(Yes, I could rent a car, but has anyone seen the price of gas there?)
One of the joys when I travel is running into the insanely stupid things people do because they are completely incapable of using their brains.
I did not intend to make The Joys of Travel a series, but things just keep getting my attention during this current trip to California. Upon reaching my hotel last Saturday, I was greeted by a hallway full of equipment like what you see above. There were also multiple workmen running up and down the stairs to various floors. This was the room next to mine, and seemed to have no impact on me, but for the most part I ignored it.
While walking out to my car, however, my curiosity kicked in and I had to ask if they were shampooing the rugs or something. One of the workmen looked at me and just simply said, “Flood.”
Two days into my stay at this hotel, when the above picture was taken, the equipment was still chugging away 24/7. I had also noticed while I was outside the curtains for the corresponding rooms on floors 2, 3 and 4 were also blowing around in a similar manner. Once again, my natural curiosity kicked in.
I went up front and asked the desk clerk how much longer I’d be listening to the equipment. They weren’t sure how much longer it would be, but they were hoping to be done soon. (To their defense, they offered to turn it off at night for me, but I insisted they had a problem to take care of and I’d live.) I then asked what the heck happened, and the woman manning the counter just shook her head.
You know how every hotel room you have ever been in has big signs about not hanging anything from a fire sprinkler? Well some less than intelligent female decided in the 4th floor room that this rule didn’t apply to her, so she hung her wedding dress from it. Her act of brilliance flooded not only her room, but the one on the third floor … the one on the second floor … and, yes, the first floor room. It actually got it the worst since it was at the bottom.
The rooms are now cleaned up and people staying in them again with the exception of the fourth floor one, I’m not sure what the issue is in that one.
This is one of those cases where I really hope this woman has been charged through the nose for the cleanup, and the vindictive side of me hopes her dress was ruined. There is a point where stupidity just needs to be punished. If you can’t be considerate enough to read the signs and follow them, then you get what you deserve.
The license plate you see above is what I happened to notice on my rental car today. I picked it up yesterday when I got to Irvine, and I just happened to glance down at the plate today and thought, “Huh … maybe California does its tags differently.” I emailed Jon Rettinger, president of TechnoBuffalo, to verify that the place was indeed expired before I yelled at the rental company, and he said it was. (I was 99.9% sure it was, but on the off chance it worked differently here I just wanted to be sure)
Being Sunday, the location I rented from was closed, so I called the national number, and they arranged for me to swap cars at an airport location. They were happy to help me, and brought another car around to me. I jokingly looked down at the plate and …
At least this time the manager that was helping me decided to make sure no one would make the mistake again.
He tells me he’s going to get me another car, and after a few minutes he comes back and goes, “Well, the next two cars I looked at … uh … they also had expired plates.” He finally set me up with a new car with valid plates.
I am not naming the rental company as the people I worked with all tried their best to rectify the situation … and I now have a nice pile of free upgrade coupons.
It was definitely one of the oddest mornings I’ve had in some time.