The Perfect Saturday in Manchester

All through the week people have been asking me if I had any plans for the Easter weekend. My answer would always remain the same: “No.” My only plan was to stay in bed as much as I want, not put on a bra or make up all weekend and only eat trash food. I worked non-stop all week until Friday night, got back home and fell on the bed – overjoyed by the fact that I didn’t have to set up an alarm for the morning and had absolutely no reason to worry about going anywhere or doing anything the next day.

The morning started blissfully with a lazy breakfast and Netflix combo, but then my boyfriend got a call. “We are going to a VEGAN FAIR” he announced and dragged me out of bed, where I was still stuffing my face with a bacon, egg and avocado sandwich. His enthusiasm goes back to a few weeks ago, when we came to the conclusion that we should take more advantage of the fact that we live in Manchester and go out and do things more. So when some friend’s invited us to join them at the fair, my boyfriend prioritised that over the lazy Saturday-in-bed, much to my dislike. I had about 20 minutes to get ready – so what did I wear? I realised in the Uber to the centre that leather boots, bag and (although faux) leather jacket might have not been the best possible idea for this activity.

After getting out of the car and continuing by foot to Alphabet Brew Co, situated under the railway tracks, I was feeling inappropriate and out-of-place standing in line to Grub Food Fair, Manchester weekly street food event, that had a special vegan event on (“extraVEGANza”). The fair didn’t have a lot of space, but there were a few stalls with delicious vegan street food options and plenty of guys with awesome beards. I was feeling a bit grumpy and claustrophobic, so although it was still early in the day, we were all up to having a drink. So we squeezed closer to the bar.

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To my surprise, I noticed some familiar words on the board: Helsinki crumble, rhubarb sahti (unfiltered beer). Now, in Finland I wouldn’t touch stuff like that with a long stick, but this just seemed like too random of an opportunity to miss. Who knew the disgusting brew of Finland was a hit among the hipsters of Manchester? I ordered a half a pint. 4 out of 5 people in the group could not swallow a sip of it. But because I bought it, I was determined to drink it.

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The fair turned out to be a rather nice experience, especially after I finished my sahti and switched to cider. It was still pretty early in the day, when we moved back to the centre of Manchester and the out-of-towners of our group wanted to sit down in Wetherspoons by Piccadilly gardens for another drink. There’s nothing wrong with Wetherspoons, don’t get me wrong. When I was a student in the UK, Wetherspoons was the place to go, as it was safe and usually pleasant. But now that I’ve gotten to know the place a bit more, I prefer the independent pubs and bars. Going to a Wetherspoons, when Northern quarter is literally around the corner seems bit of a waste.

When the rest of the group had to leave, me and my boyfriend decided to have a spontaneous rest of the day. So we dove into Norther quarter. Finally.

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Northern quarter is an area of central Manchester that was branded during the 90’s and has become the centre of bohemian and hipster lifestyle. It’s known for it’s clothing stores, independent cafe’s, art, comic book and craft stores, and the buzzing nightlife. The whole area has the feel of industrial Manchester to it.

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This time we headed to Pen and Pencil for cocktails. After which we went to Hula for some burning cocktails. In Northern quarter, you can always find a unique bar around the corner with their own personal drink menus and cool interiors.

After bar-hopping and sipping drinks in the still quiet Northern quarter, the hunger took over and we stumbled around looking for a place to eat in. Walking past the Manchester Cat Cafe, where the furry residents were getting ready for the nighttime feline fun, we spotted a restaurant that caught our curiosity: The Pasta Factory.

I’m a little reserved when it comes to Italian food as it is so commercialised. It’s always tasty, but hardly ever mind-blowing. My trip to Naples proved that whatever I’ve ever thought Italian food is, I was wrong. It’s so much better. After the taste experiences I had there, going to a basic Italian restaurant elsewhere has been hard, as the flavours never come close to what I expect. Except now.

The restaurant has the atmosphere of an authentic Italian place, with the cute and cozy home-like interior and smell of pastas that they make themselves. We were seated in a tiny table and the menu was explained to us in detail, which made me feel that staff in the restaurant really cares about their food. We ordered the antipasti, squid ink pasta with shrimp and tomatoes and red wine pasta with venison.

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I was NOT disappointed. My squid ink pasta made me make sounds that were not appropriate for a public place. Despite of that I’m definitely going back to The Pasta Factory in the future.

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So what does a perfect Saturday in Manchester include? First find an event with free entry and hopefully some beer and street food, continue to Northern quarter and do some cafe/bar hopping, and eventually find a restaurant, which is serious about their food and enjoy. That’s my answer. Because who needs shopping on a busy Saturday?

The next morning, on Sunday, I didn’t get up from bed. I finally kept my word and didn’t change out of pyjamas. The Saturday day-out was a lot of fun, but the lazy-Sunday made me the happiest girl in Manchester.

I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend and going back to the everyday life isn’t too hard for you!

xoxo,

Kara

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