Earlier this month, I had my first trip to Manchester. I must admit I'd heard a lot of stories from other crew and wasn't entirely thrilled to be doing the trip, but decided that I should wait and see for myself before having an opinion about the kind of flight we would have.
Of course, the flight was busy, but I didn't find anyone rude and while yes, they loved a drink (or four), people were for the most part friendly to us and we didn't have any trouble. I always love going to the UK, as a bit of an aviation geek, I always find interesting aircraft or airlines to look at.
One of the interesting ones is BMIbaby, which of course has a cartoon baby as the logo, but I didn't see them this time to be able to take a picture. I did see this Thomas Cook 767- WITH WINGLETS!!!
I always wished our 767 had winglets when I flew on them. Yes, I'm easily amused!
One cool thing about this trip was that I got to fly with a girl whose blog I regularly read, I found it right before I joined the airline & it was great to get an idea of how the trips and lifestyle were. (So hi to Krysta if you're reading this!!!)
After we arrived at the hotel, it was decided that a group of us would make the trek into the town nearest to the hotel and indulge in a little bit of shopping. I headed to my room, laughing because Krysta & I had been put across the hall from each other. At least if either of us fell asleep while getting dressed, we could wake each other up for the shopping trip. (Not sure what would have happened if we BOTH fell asleep?!) I unpacked my bags quickly, and got changed, taking a minute to snap the obligatory "I'm staying in a new hotel" photo.
Mmmmm, comfy bed! I do like the mattress toppers & I WANT ONE! So much nicer than my company issue bed back in Dubai.
Since we were all in a sleepy mood, we decided to pay the 7 pounds a piece and take the hotel car driven by the hotel driver, Neil. He'd drop us in town and pick us up later. I warned him that we'd be going to Primark & it was quite possible we'd be calling to extend the time :P We spent the car trip chatting quietly, until we finally arrived in the town centre. I was happy to see a variety of stores as well as some nice buildings. Of course, I snapped a few pictures.
As we walked along, our sleepy conversation was quickly replaced by excitement when we saw this:
PRIMARK!!!! Now I know it's mostly cheap and all mass-produced and not at all eco-conscious (well, maybe some of it) but it's Primark!!! If you know what to look for you can get some awesome stuff. We all decided on a time to meet back at the main entrance and then we were off! This was the mother of all Primarks (that I've been to) -three floors of clothes, shoes and homewares. Since I am only using my allowances on layovers, I knew that I couldn't shop a lot. At first I was caught up in the excitement, grabbing things left and right and putting them in my basket. I probably had a hundred pounds' worth in 5 minutes! Then reality sunk in and I knew I should shop sensibly. I should buy things I needed, but hadn't found in Dubai.
In the end, I bought one long dress, some belts (I never seem to have the right one that I need), stocked up on cheap undies, some pretty bras and a mid-range "in-between" jacket in a military style. Also got some ultra-cute laundry bags to put my smalls in, so next time I go through Customs in London, the entire crew doesn't get to see my dirty laundry! (Honestly, they seem to think I'm a criminal as I get selected EVERY single time in Heathrow for the 'random' check!!) I had wanted to buy a hooded casual jacket, but they only seemed to have coats or workout wear.
Checking my watch, I actually had half an hour until I had to meet the others. I was starving, so I grabbed a Burger King small burger and fries, and ate them sitting outside Primark on a park bench. There was an old man one seat over, who possessively placed his half-full can of Coke on the empty seat between us, as if to stake his claim on that seat too. Pretty soon, two of the girls arrived to wait with me. We decided that it was too cold, so took our huge shopping bags back inside Primark and sat with everyone else on the low ledge near the doors until the rest of the group joined us.
All that shopping made us hungry, so we headed to a nearby food court for some eats. I got Subway, because I love being able to buy Subway with REAL SALAMI & HAM in it!! Dubai Subway is fine but an Italian BMT just isn't a BMT without actual pork salami. There was a bit f drama when a woman collapsed near the Burger King, there were some security guards standing around not doing much, we offered our help but they waved us off and left the woman on the floor while radio-ing someone for help. Shrug. Off we went, what could we do? While the others were eating, I quickly ran to the newsagent to buy my trashy UK magazines (Closer & More!) Love the fashion pages more than anything, as I don't know any of the celebrities aside from Kylie and Cheryl Cole. Then we succumbed to Mickey D's dessert & I convinced the girls to try the limited-edition Aero Mint McFlurry (Sadly, it's discontinued now, waaaaahhhhh)
As fatigue was hitting in, we decided to call it a day as it was almost time for our van pickup back to the hotel. As we were walking to the pickup spot, we passed what we thought was some statue or installation art. Then we saw a guy was peeing on it! Was actually a new-fangled arty outdoor urinal. EWWWWWW! And there was nowhere for them to wash their hands! We burst into hysterical laughter at the thought of pee-covered man-hands touching all the ATMs and railings around town after visiting this strange toilet! Luckily, no one was taking any photos at the time before we realised what it was. Imagine explaining that away...
Waiting for our van pickup...
Once we got back to the hotel, I just geeked out on the internet, checking my emails and catching up with friends on Facebook before heading to bed. Next morning I stuffed my face on the buffet breakfast before getting ready for the trip home. It was still really hectic, so by the time I reached my apartment I was so ready for some sleep!!!
Yay for Primark! I don't think a (female) crewmember exists who has had a layover near Primark and hasn't gone! :P
That's it for now, I have some more photos up my sleeve I'll try to post over the next few days. xo
Coat: Glassons in DFO Melbourne
Scarf: Cotton On, years ago