Saturday, 25 February 2012

A Weekend in Manchester

I spent last weekend in the English city of Manchester visiting some friends I'd met on holiday almost two years ago. The main purpose of the visit was simply to catch up but we managed to fit in some sightseeing, good meals and two excellent nights out.

Manchester itself is a sprawling city with so many shops, bars, restaurants, clubs and plenty to see, not to mention the two big football clubs which call this city home. Whilst we were in Manchester we stayed in a great apartment in the Deansgate area which I booked through Roomorama, you can read my review of this here.

On our first evening in Manchester we headed straight for Chinatown, the second largest Chinatown in the UK after London, and attempted to pick a spot for dinner from the numerous different options. We decided on Peking Court which was doing a buffet and had something which suited all six of us. The food was delicious, if you are ever there I highly recommend the salt and pepper chicken which was to die for. It was also very reasonably priced, costing us £13 each including a tip. Not bad for a delicious all you can eat buffet!

Arch at the Entrance to Chinatown

After dinner we headed to an area called The Printworks which, as the name suggests, was a print house until it's refurbishment in 2000 after lying dormant for around 10 years. It dates back to 1873 and is now home to a cinema, numerous restaurants, bars and 4 clubs. We spent our night in Tiger Tiger sampling some of the different floors within this massive club and had a great time! Coming from Glasgow, the home of the £1 drink, we found drinks to be quite expensive in comparison but not outrageous.


Inside the Printworks

Retro print posters give the interior of the Printworks a quirky feel

The Big Wheel of Manchester was also something I wanted to experience whilst I was there as I love heights. At only £5.50 for a student ticket (£7.50 for adults) we all took the opportunity to see Manchester from 60 metres in the air.

The Big Wheel of Manchester

The height of the big wheel affords some great views of Manchester Cathedral and the many modern buildings mingling with the older, more traditional architecture of the city. The Big Wheel of Manchester is being dismantled in April in order for the city to host some Olympic events this summer so get there quick before it goes.

Our second night out in Manchester saw us exploring the bars and clubs of Deansgate Locks, just a few minutes walk from our apartment. Here, quirky bars and clubs are found within converted railway arches and outside there is a huge wooden walkway over the bridge which apparently has outdoor seating in the summer months.

We made our way first to Baabars, a ridiculously busy bar which specialised in £1 shooters. I had a 'Purple Wand' (purple is my favourite colour!) which was gorgeous but we didn't stay long as it was far too busy and there was barely any room to move.

We then headed to Missoula, which serves food during the day and at night turns into a vibrant club with great DJ's in the downstairs area. Upstairs there is exposed brickwork which is in keeping with Missoula's former status as a simple railway arch. This is mingled with modern furnishing and decor, giving Missoula a truly unique feel.

I really enjoyed my trip to Manchester and would like to go back and explore more of the sights such as the interior of Manchester Cathedral. I'd also love to have a meal in the famous Curry Mile, maybe next time!

Have you been to Manchester? What did you think of it compared to other English cities?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Manchester Apartment Review | Roomorama

Whilst in Manchester we stayed in an apartment which I booked through Roomorama. It was located in the Deansgate area of the city which is just a few minutes walk from Oxford Road train station so was within walking distance of the city centre which was perfect for us.

After a few problems with booking the apartment, which appear to be down to a lack of clear communication between Roomorama and the apartment owner everything was confirmed. Upon arrival were met by a man who checked us into our  two bedroom home for the weekend.
After being let in the secure entry door we unexpectedly found ourselves in a bright inner courtyard with a garden section and lovely water features leading to a modern and clean reception area.

Inner Courtyard

Our apartment itself was a nice size with an open plan kitchen, living and dining area. The living area had a large glass door which led out onto a good sized balcony. Unfortunately we were pretty much facing a brick wall however, rooms on the other side of the building would have been looking onto the lovely little courtyard.

Kitchen Area

The two bedrooms were of similar size and one of which was en suite (definitely kept that one for myself!). The bedroom which was next to the living area even had fold-away doors which you could push back to create an even more open plan living area. My two guy friends who were sharing this room thought this was a great idea as it would leave them with 'so much room for activities!' That only makes sense if you've seen Step Brothers...

One of the Bedrooms

The apartment had all the modern amenities you could need including a dishwasher, washing machine and large flat-screen TV and DVD player. The only thing missing was a stereo system which would have been nice.

Overall our apartment allowed us more freedom during our stay in Manchester. We were able to have our friends over for food and a few drinks in our living area which made it far more sociable than staying in a hotel. Staying in an apartment allows you to feel like more of a local than simply a tourist and this is another reason I try to book apartments rather than hotels.

Despite the teething problems in the booking process through Roomorama our stay was a definite success and I'd book a stay through Roomorama again without hesitation.

Chilling in the Courtyard

Have you ever booked accommodation through Roomorama? What did you think of it?

Monday, 13 February 2012

Singapore in Pictures

Here's a little selection of some my brother's photographs from his recent trip to Singapore. He was there on business but managed to get some free time to explore this amazing place and see just some of what it has to offer.

The Singapore Skyline

Singapore Skyline with the Singapore Flyer on the right hand side

Marina Bay Sands Hotel

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is a giant boat at the top of three tower blocks. Marina Bay Sands is one of the most expensive hotel developments in the world and has an infinity pool at the very top, an eye-watering 55 storeys up. Not for the faint hearted but the views would be amazing.

Christmas Lights on Orchard Road

Orchard Road is the main retail centre of the city of Singapore. It features many different kinds of shops from Zara to D&G and is always busy with both locals and tourists. The elaborate Christmas lights feature a different design each year and light up the entire street.

Sentosa Island
Sentosa Island is located just 15 minutes outside the city and features a wealth of different attractions from beaches, like the one above, to a theme park. There are also golf courses, hotels and residential areas on the island which make it a great destination to explore for a day or two.  

Singapore Zoo

Singapore Zoo is a great place to spend a relaxing day seeing some of over 300 species of animal which are present here. It is situated within a heavily forested area and can be easily reached by bus or taxi from the city.

How cute are these penguins?!

These stunning pictures from Singapore thanks to my brother Iain have definitely made me want to visit Singapore now. I'll add it to my list...!

And here's a badly translated sign that he saw in the city to end this post on a totally immature level...

Friday, 3 February 2012

Warnemünde, Germany

On a Baltic Cruise last summer one of the ports of call was Warnemünde in Germany. I have to admit I didn't have many expectations of this port as I had mainly focused my attentions and excitement on other ports such as St. Petersburg and Stockholm but I was very pleasantly surprised with this lovely town. 

Warnemünde is a district of the city of Rostock and sits in the north east of Germany and when I visited in June the weather was absolutely stunning- so warm and sunny. From where the ships dock at the cruise terminal it is only a few minutes walk to the cafes, restaurants and shops in the centre of the town.

The biggest surprise I got about Warnemünde was the stunning beach it has. There is a beautiful wide stretch of white sand with lovely little beach huts or strandkorb which looked like a great place to sit and relax in the sunshine.

Warnemünde's gorgeous sandy beach with strandkorb
The beach was absolutely gorgeous for a relaxing walk with your toes in the sand (I love that feeling!) but I'm not sure I'd have fancied a swim in the Baltic Sea!

There was also a big play area on the beach which would be perfect for keeping children entertained. Being the big kid that I am, I couldn't resist a shot myself...

Just hanging around...
Warnemünde Lighthouse stands at the edge of the Warnow river and from the top of it there are amazing views over the town and the Baltic Sea. The lighthouse is around 36 metres and dates back to the end of the 19th Century. For a small donation to the lifeboats you can climb to the top of the lighthouse and enjoy the views.

Views from the top of the lighthouse

There were some great little independent shops in the centre of Warnemünde that I enjoyed browsing in. There were so many shoes, clothes and jewellery shops so obviously I had to buy a pair of shoes as a souvenir from my first time in Germany!

There are also some lovely cafes and restaurants around the canal, Alte Strom, which is the perfect place to sit and relax whilst watching the people pass by and fishing boats sailing down the canal. Naturally, in this area next to the canal there was an abundance of seafood restaurants which served lovely, fresh fish.

On the walk back to the port to get back on board the ship I came across some of the best sand sculptures I've seen. There must have been some sort of competition going on as there were various sculptures by different people dotted around the area next to the port.

The sand sculptures were amazing- so intricate with so much attention to detail. It was definitely something a little different and unexpected.

Warnemünde is just a short train ride away from the city of  Rostock and if I was in the area again I'd love to explore it. The train station is within easy walking of the cruise port and the journey into Rostock takes around 20 minutes and costs just a few euros.

I had such a great day on my very first trip into Germany and it's made me eager to see some of the rest of the country.

Thumbs up for Warnemünde

Have you been to Warnemünde? What did you think of it? Do you have any recommendations in the rest of Germany for me?