Ah, the pleasures of sleeping on the floor in the living room. I was woken inadvertently by the newly returned flatmates, who were up for their first day back at work. I had a pleasant breakfast with birthday-girl Eva, said goodbye to her and Danny, and then after a bit headed off to Euston station for the ride north.
The Hammersmith and City line — convenient to Shepherd’s Bush — didn’t connect directly with Euston, but the station was just a short walk around the corner from the nearest tube stop. I could have taken the tube directly to Euston, but it would have added a lot of time, and several line changes.
On the train, he fellow across from me prepared for the journey to Manchester by getting out his Blackberry, his cellphone and his laptop, all of which kept him pretty busy. The fellow next to me brought out his cellphone … and a variety of magazines emphasizing scantily clad women, though he did look like he was reading the articles. Interestingly, neither of them were able to complete a phone call: there was always at least one interruption of service as we sped towards Manchester Piccadilly.
Transportation costs are interesting. I paid £12 for a taxi from Piccadilly to my hotel (£6 for the ride, £6 for the luggage, apparently). Had I come from the airport, I could have paid £3.50 for a train to Piccadilly (for a total of £15.50), or a taxi directly (about £20). All things considered, the train + taxi is not such an improvement, and less so considering that the train station at the airport is at least a 10 minute walk from baggage claim.
Premier Apartments had upgraded me to a two-bedroom two-bath suite, for some reason. The receptionist was a bit surprised that I was paying only £79/$160 a night (I’d booked 6 weeks earlier), and noted that people were now paying £99 for a one-bedroom suite.
My assessment of the hotels in Manchester was that the £50/night ones were only by the airport (thus too far). There are £60/night hotels in town, but reviews where overwhelmingly negative, except by people who just wanted to crash after a night (or two) of drinking. Around £70 there were reasonable low-end chain hotels – i.e. a bed + bath, so for £79, I was getting quite a deal with a suite including a kitchen and a washer/dryer.
Once settled, I took a quick tour of slightly-rainy Manchester, stopping by the Arndale (site of last year’s early-morning wait for the opening of an Apple store), and the Manchester Cathedral, where I was pleasantly surprised to find an organ and choir practice going on. I kept trying to find wifi from The Cloud, from which I’d purchased unlimited access, but even though it was supposed to be available around the Arndale, I was unable to find it.
Later, I got take-away at Nosh, an Asian restaurant across the street from the hotel, and that was pretty much the end of my day of my first day in the fine city of Manchester, UK.