Thanks to the Travel and Luggage Gods

Nutcrackers at the Manchester Christmas Markets

Nutcrackers at the Manchester Christmas Markets

Now, where was I? Oh yes, we’d seen Rievaulx Abbey on the way home from our road trip. I only had one more day to spend with my fella before heading home. This weekend was the opening weekend for the Manchester Christmas Markets and I wanted to go.  We parked in an NCP garage and walked over Deansgate to St. Ann’s Square where some of the markets were.

The Manchester Christmas Markets are spread over a few streets from the Exchange Square by the Triangle shopping centre, behind the new Selfige’s and M&S over through St. Ann’s Square, down King St., up Brazenose St. and then filling Albert Square in front of the Victorian Town Hall with it’s soaring clock tower and massive glittery Santa looking over it all. They have small wooden huts set up for all the vendors and many of them are internationally themed, such as French or German to echo the markets on the Continent. We arrived by about 11 a.m. in hopes of seeing some of  it before the worst of the crowds hit but we weren’t too successful.

There are lots of nice things to see and even more nice things to eat and drink. My fella wasn’t overly impressed, he didn’t think there was all that much to appeal to him, or men in general (his opinion). He may be right I suppose, depending on your interests. There was a lot of Christmas decoration and toys, handmade items, jewelry, ceramics and the food ranged from meats, cheese, wine, beer, and lots of sweets. They had a few cafes and beer gardens set up and some stalls selling a variety of mulled hot drinks which they would serve in a souvenir mug. They charged £2 as a deposit on the mug but you could keep it if you want or get the money back if you returned it. I did try one and kept the mug though wasn’t as keen on the mulled wine I tried.

How many kinds of fudge can you imagine!

By the time we got to the Town Hall, the crowds were thick. They always seemed to be heading in the direction against the one I was walking, naturally. We ducked into the Town Hall because I had heard it was very nice and it was except there was also a market in there for the vendors from the Northern Quarter market, Affleck’s. That’s the place you want to go for goth, punk, hip, club gear, and all kinds of off the beaten track stuff. But the problem was that in there the bottleneck of humankind was even worse! We didn’t last too long and got out alive. From there, the crowds were just too much and we left. Yeesh!

We thought we’d drive into the countryside for a nice pub lunch at a place G. has liked for years. We’d gone there a few years ago and it was very good food with lovely views over the West Pennines. We found it, but it seems to be closed and possibly they are rebuilding but I’m not sure. It was a disappointment. We headed back into town a different way and got a bit lost (we had left the SatNav home!) but we found a motorway eventually and made it back.

Thus my trip was over. Monday was traveling day and we had to be up at 4:30 a.m. or “Stupid O’Clock”. My flight was 7:20 and we had to return the rental car as well. Got checked in, we stopped for a coffee to keep ourselves going. G. had to go back to town to work so he had a long day too.  Time to say a few prayers to the Travel Gods. The trip over from Canada was not very pleasant with crowded planes and long queues. I was really hoping the return journey through terminal 5 to 3 in Heathrow wasn’t going to be similar.

The Gods heard me this time. The flight to Heathrow was actually not too uncomfortable even thought it was full and I had the middle seat. It felt as if the seats were just a little more roomy and that made all the difference. The transfer was smooth and there were no long lines at the airline desk where I had to get my boarding pass for the next flight and even the security line wasn’t bad at all. I had a snack and a cup of tea in the large lounge in Terminal 3 but I didn’t walk around and browse in the shops because it would have cost me money! The gate for the flight wasn’t at the back end of beyond and the best thing, there was an empty seat beside me and it stayed that way!

The flight was mostly smooth and what turbulence there was wasn’t too rough. Food was decent. Movie sucked but I chose the Woody Allen “To Rome With Love” and I knew I wouldn’t like it. I only wanted to see a last glimpse of Rome.  I did try to sleep but probably just dozed a little here and there. Ah it was good to touch down in Canada!. The Luggage Gods were kind and my bags arrived with me.

We always look ahead to our next visit or more. I may be going back over in mid January for a long weekend for an event I’ve been invited to and if it goes ok at work, I definitely will make the plans. It’s a bonus visit with G. and even if it’s just a few days, it’s quality time together. G. will come to Canada in May and we are thinking about a visit to New York City. Next fall I will go to the  UK and we are talking about a road trip to Scotland.  It’s hard to come back because we only get to see each other twice a  year as a rule. With the constant contact through the net, we keep the bond strong but it isn’t a substitute for real face-time. But it is what it is for now.

Until the next time.