Now let’s move on to the part of the trip that Dearie loves the most: Manchester! Being a Manchester United’s biggest fan, it has been his lifelong dream to watch his favorite team in the one and only Theatre of Dreams, and I was more than happy to oblige! He has bought us tickets to the United – Arsenal match and it cost us both our arms and legs (ah! We’re limping!) but it’s a good thing that we both travelled together so we could look for cheaper options in terms of lodging.
However, I have to say that our accommodation history throughout our stay in the UK has been really pleasant. The hotel we stayed at in Manchester was Travelodge, and it was much bigger than Stanley House Hotel in London. But even in London we were pretty happy with our place since we didn’t spend much time inside the room anyway, and they provided decent daily breakfast. The most important thing to us was the location – it had to be convenient and near to the metro station.
Anyway, back to Manchester! (The short attention-span-me.)
So, we made our way to Manchester by train from London. The train ride itself was uneventful but really nice (uneventful in this way means we didn’t get robbed, or take the wrong train, so yeah, uneventful is a good adjective here). Our seats were pre-allocated so it was relatively easy finding out way.
Fast forward to a few hours later…
Hello Manchester! You’so pretty! We arrived in the late afternoon so the sun was shining brightly and the wind was blowing and I was freezing and my luggage was heavy.. Oops, okay, I’m not painting a very good picture here, am I?
Seriously though! We managed to drag our luggage and we initially decided to take a bus to the city near our hotel since we saw there was a free shuttle from the train station. We hopped in, but I wasn’t very certain because I couldn’t see the stop name where our hotel was at in the bus route. Luckily we asked the driver and turned out the bus didn’t go to the place that we wanted to go! So we quickly hopped out and after deliberation, decided to just opt for train!
The train there was nice because it wasn’t underground and we could admire the view along the way! The ride wasn’t long, in no time we arrived in our stop! It was a beautiful place near the river and our hotel was perched nicely in the side of the bridge that connected this side of the road with the one where Old Trafford was.
The walk to Old Trafford itself probably took 15-20 minutes. And there we were, at the Sir Matt Busby Way! Throughout our 3-days stay in Manchester, we probably went to Old Trafford like 5 times. Well, that’s the main purpose we were there! Anyway, that evening we just walked around the stadium, took obligatory pictures and checked out the United store. This was when Dearie bought the thick black jacket that would survive him throughout the rest of the journey.
The next day passed by like a blur! We woke up early and quick to dress in our Manchester United’s attire – Dearie in his red jersey, topped with Cantona scarf that he bought the day before, and moi in the blue one. The atmosphere was so lively on our way to the stadium as we saw fellow fans going there as well. The surroundings of the stadium now resembled a flea market, with booths and people selling match scarves, shirts and all sorts of memorabilia!
Oh! Another awesome experience I must share here is the pre-match lunch in the Red Café! People who bought the VIP package were entitled this lunch before the match and it was amazing! We sat with 6 other people in the table, two from Ireland, two from Malaysia, the other two from the States and then there were us. What’s fun was during the meal itself, they actually distributed a quiz that we could fill in as a table, and the table with the best score would win some prize! The questions in the quiz itself mostly circled around sports, although I remember there was one question of: “What is the name of Jamie’s Cullum’s wife?” to which we answered, “Mrs. Cullum.” Well, that certainly isn’t wrong!
Anyway, the questions weren’t easy okay! But the group managed to answer quite a fair bit, and to my amazement, Dearie actually knew way more than I thought! I know he’s a major United fan, but his sports knowledge really went beyond that, and it made me proud! (Aww!) Especially when one of the Irish guy was a sports journalist, yet Dearie had more knowledge than him, it seemed. Even though our table didn’t win in the end, I think that was a very good and clever idea to get everyone engaged before the match, and a chance for us to actually make new friends along the way too!
Next, the match! All I remembered was walking and trying to find our seats, and all I could see was people, people and more people! We had really good seats at Sir Alex Ferguson stand and wow, the view from up there was simply sensational! I think these pictures can describe better than any words. I could see Rooney, Van Persie, Ferdinand and all those players I usually could only watch from the television screen at home. If I was excited, I can’t imagine how Dearie must have felt!
The game was fantastic and we won! The energy was contagious, people were cheering and shouting and singing along, and it seemed like everyone was in pure sync. We were like droids army, systematically standing in line and following orders. (Weird metaphor, but you get the drift, don’t you? Don’t you? Don’t YOU?)
The match ended with a 2-1 victory! Woo-hoo! I nearly had to drag Dearie outta there, cos he was kept asking me for pictures with his Cantona scarf. Bless him! Going out after the match was a pandemonium again! We made a stop at the store again to buy even more stuffs and we both bought the table-cloth jerseys and other souvenirs like coasters, mugs, and figures.
The next time we were at Old Trafford again was the following day when we went for the stadium tour and museum tour, checking out the football field up close and personal, hanging out in the players’ dressing room (no biggie..) and getting too much info on the club and its history that I cared to know. Haha, kidding! It was really fun!
One evening in Manchester, we went out to the city and had quite fancy Italian dinner with a friend of mine who was living there. I think otherwise we wouldn’t have figured out a way to go to the city beyond our hotel and Old Trafford so it was pretty special. Oh! Near to our hotel, there was this shopping center that has Nike’s factory outlet and I’m sure Dearie loved it because he bought tons of cheap football jerseys for his friends back home!
Thank you Manchester for the awesome experience! Thanks for making my Dearie's dreams come true too!