Manchester Kind of Sucks

Still on a high from the amazing city of Edinburgh, and more than slightly hungover after my epic farewell to the city, I sling the strap of my camera over my shoulder and head out of my hostel and into Manchester.

My feet feel like they are walking in slow motion as my mind is perhaps still more than just slightly drunk. Around me, cars driving on the wrong side of the road keep me on my toes. I aim myself in the direction of city hall, a place that I’m sure will reward me with a fun scene or at the very least a photo op.

I head down a pedestrian street filled with girls glowing in an oompa loompa orange whilst carrying shopping bags in the pits their elbows which bent like a coat hook. They point the arm carrying their bags directly to their side, swing the other arm as quickly as they can, keep their heads up high, and walk as fast as they can.

“I need to get off this street,” I think to myself as I pause in the middle of the walkway while observing the scene and wondering where I’ve come. “I must still be drunk.”

As I escape the grasps of the obviously insane shopping crowds, I force my heavy feet down a couple narrow roads towards the city hall, a building that I’m sure will satisfy my desire to see historic architecture. However, when I arrive, a giant green banner with the slogan “I heart Manchester” lay across it, and a cheesy pre-Saint Patrick’s Day flee market gathers at the bottom. I sigh, take a photo of the tower, and move on.

My map makes a crinkling sound as I draw it from my jacket pocket and stop to read it as a shiver shakes from my hips up my back to my ears.

“The Opera House,” I say out loud, completely lost in the map. “There has to be something worth seeing there.”

I walk by a monotonous series of houses, pubs, and fish and chip shops before I finally arrive at the Opera House; It’s under construction. Moreover, that giant banner “I heart Manchester” is again placed above the building, this time in white.

“I don’t heart Manchester. Manchester kind of sucks,” I think to myself full well knowing that the signs are actually making me “heart” it a little bit less. “I’m probably just hungover and grumpy. I’m going to head back to the hostel for an early night. Maybe watch a movie”

I wake up the next day early, with optimism running rampantly through my veins. I sit down for breakfast and join a conversation with a group of Argentinians who seem to be facing the same thing as me.

“I came here because I thought it would be amazing,” the loudest of the group says in the thickest of PorteΓ±o accents. “How can a city have such amazing football teams but be so boring?”

We all laugh before heading our own separate directions.

In less than an hour we are all in stitches as we find ourselves back in the hostel bored and ready for our next destination.

“What did you see?” I ask the small group wondering what they did in their brief time away.

“I saw that we should probably leave this town before I start to hate Manchester United,” said one of the group members wearing a Man U shirt. “Whatever, let’s go to the pub.”

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. What about the stunning Imperial war Museum North? One of Europe’s great museums and a photographers dream.

    What about the Lowry?

    What about a visit to Old Trafford?

    What about the Museum of science and Industry?

    The cathedral?

    What about China Town, the biggest in Europe?

    Did you even visit the tourist information centre?

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    • Hahahah Ross…. calmmmmm down.

      The Imperial War museum was cool, but I was there on a weekend and it was packe. Old trafford is ok… but I support Arsenal… haha. The museum of science and industry was good actually, I enjoyed it. But still… what else?? The cathedral is ok, but seriously the one in Liverpool destroys it. China town too, it’s ok… but I’m from the west of Canada our china towns are much cooler. And hahahaha yes, I did visit the info center. I stick by my title haha.

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  2. Calm down! You support Arsenal! How can I calm down? πŸ™‚

    You should support Liverpool πŸ™‚

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    • hahahaha… P.S. I loved Liverpool. Great city. I’ve got an article on it next week sometime I think.

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  3. Manchester is one of those cities that I think is hard for tourists to love without someone to show more of the insider spots, but it can actually be a pretty cool place when you get to know it more as a local (Santiago suffers from the same fate but is improving). And I agree with Ross on the Liverpool comment – ugh, Arsenal!

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    • @Emily – I guess I could see the comparisons to Santiago. Except I love Santiago haha.

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  4. haha classic. Not every city is awesome, some just plain suck. I’ve experienced it too.

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    • @Sam, the best thing to do is to just go with it and have a bit of a laugh. Sometimes the cities that suck make for the greatest stories!

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  5. Its around 10 miles, so maybe 20-25 minutes depending on the traffic. You can also use the train which would be maybe 10 minutes at that.

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  6. Screw you Brendan. I’m sending the Gallagher brothers to sort you out. Even they’d reunite to beat the hell out of a certain Canuck with ideas way above his station.

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    • HAHAHAHAH! @Will – I was even mistaken for a fellow Manchurian, Some guy from the band Take That.

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  7. haha so true Manchester, sadly, is crap. Unless you have a shopping addiction which, I do not. Or a beer addiction, which I do not. Or a grease addition…which, I do not. It’s a niche market.

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  8. I think I agree with Emily (about Santiago also). I just arrived recently but I do have a friend who lives here. Also, I am not really in full-throttle tourist mode so a bit laid-back (boring?) is fine with me. Finally, this is my first time in the UK and my first stop so I have nothing to compare it with. My attitude about the Premier League is “ABC” (Anybody but Chelsea) so I was thrilled to see United play QPR on Sunday at Old Trafford. I will admit though that the weather has been pretty rotten since I arrived.

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  9. My only memory of Manchester is of being in a bar, watching horses on TV dance to “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts”.

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  10. Not every city is awesome, others are plain sucks. Not until you’ve learn and know the history of from it. Manchester is one of my favorite place, kinda simple but reach in historical place.

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  11. Your article kind of sucks, bro. At no point did you say something like “In my opinion, Manchester sucks …” or “My impression was that it sucked that day”. Making “sucky” declarations like that is pretty sucky in itself.

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    • Hahaha @Scott – This isn’t a democracy. Manchester kind of sucks. To be fair, my mom always used to tell me “If you don’t like it just shut your mouth” haha… I’ve never been good at taking advice haha.

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  12. And yes, in case you were wondering, my girlfriend is from Manchester, lol!

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    • @Scott – Don’t let you’re girlfriend comment for you. And please tell her I didn’t mean her when I said Oompa Loompa tanned women haha.

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  13. The first time I went to Manchester (after living in Edinburgh for over a year), I hated it. Dreary oppressive Victorian architecture, difficult to navigate, and it was raining.

    But the more I visited, the more it grew on me. The museums and galleries are very good, there are some ace pubsm areas like the Northern Quarter and outlying towns like Chorlton have a better atmosphere than parts of the centre.

    Also what helped me like Manchester was living in Liverpool. πŸ˜‰ Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty I like about Liverpool, but a lot that pisses me off. Look forward to your post on that.

    Edinburgh’s still my favourite UK city, hands down.

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    • Haha Rachel, people keep saying that Manchester grows on you where you grow out of Liverpool. I loved Liverpool, and have a post about it coming in just a couple hours πŸ˜€

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  14. Haha.. crazy that everyone expects it to be killer, but when they arrive it’s not that exciting. Never been, but I’d still love to check it out.

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    • @John, I think that people think Manchester is amazing just because of the football team. That being said, I’m surprised how many people tell me they love it!

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  15. Brendan’s hit the nail on the head.

    I’m from California and lived in Manchester for four years. Then I lived in Liverpool for one year. Scouses can get hostile, but they’re nice to look at and have the most endearing accent in the English language. Despite its desperate poverty, Liverpool is oozing with culture, has many impressive buildings, and is one of the most romantic cities in Europe with its River Mersey.

    Manchester, on the other hand, is filled with disgustingly dumpy and unnaturally pale career alcoholics who make a culture of vomiting on the street. Mancs behave as if they are the absolute sh!t – like they are better looking, more successful, generally above you – meanwhile they are the uncultured grandchildren of mill slaves, with hideously frightening hanging bloated bodies, and excessive smegma to boot.

    There’s a saying amongst Mancunians that goes something like this: When the Queen was asked her opinion on the best thing about Manchester, she replied “The way out.”

    By the way Brendan – the “Fish Hut” pictured in your photograph is owned by a Canadian guy named Lindsey or Leslie – I used to live across Barton Street.

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