The Better London – Why Manchester is the place to be

Whether you are looking for a city break in England or to settle permanently somewhere in the UK, Manchester is the place for you. How about London, I hear you ask. London is great, but there is more to England than just it’s capital. I am going to give you five reasons why you should go to Manchester on your next break, before you eventually decide to pack your bags and move there.

Experience the culture
Manchester is not only the home to two of the greatest football team (debatable but we’ll let this go for the purpose of this article), it is also the home of the longest running TV show in the UK, Coronation Street. Whilst the football fans can busy themselves at the Football Museum and enjoy tours to both Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford Stadium, the non-footballers can engage in some mind-scratchingly challenging games at the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience, just the TV show. If you’re someone who prefers a quieter and easier time, step into real life Hogwards. The John Rylands Library is a must, whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not.

Town Hall Manchester
Town Hall Manchester

From November to December, the city will be transformed into a magical German Christmas Market

As a growingly international city and with the help of both universities, University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester has attracted many internationals to reside in the city. The diverse population has also built the second largest Chinatown in the UK and the third largest in Europe! Here you’d find many authentic Asian cuisines and enjoy a festive celebration of Chinese New Year every February. From November to December, the city will be transformed into a magical German Christmas Market, with stores dotted all over the city center. Unlike London, you will not have to fight your way into the only Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with thousands of visitors just to get your hands on a cup of overpriced mulled wine.

Manchester

Shop till you drop
Believe it or not, you don’t have to go to London to get your shopping fix. Here in Manchester, you can find three major malls one next to the other, and many more department stores and shops scattered all over the city center. Whether you are into designer brands or high street names, your needs will be satisfied either in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols or the biggest shopping mall in the city, Arndale Shopping Centre. For your convenience, the trio hurdle together in one corner of the city, only a mere 10-minute walk from Manchester Victoria train station, unlike in London where you have to walk miles or spend £2.20 each time you board the overcrowded tube.

Along Market Street where the entrance to Arndale is, you can find at least five different sneakers stores, a three-story big Urban Outfitters, WHSmith, Aldi (the cheapest supermarket), TKMaxx (for the off-season designer goods) and a four-story high Primark. You are most guaranteed to find whatever you are looking for. What’s more, there is a House of Fraser and a Debenhams opposite Primark, if you haven’t already bought enough as you wiggle your way through the crowd and up the street.

Should you prefer a quieter and more ‘sophisticated’ shopping experience, I’d suggest you head to King Street, where you will find various local boutiques, branded stores and pop ups. Although usually quieter than the main street, you will not be disappointed by the range and the number of shops you find here.

Manchester

If you find yourself constantly revisiting Brick Lane or Camden Town in London, Northern Quarter is just the place for you. Small enough not to tire you out but big enough to cater for your needs, whether that is a desire to treasure hunt in vintage stores or to look for your next Halloween outfit, Pop Boutique has you covered. Cow Vintage and Blue Rinse are just a few of the many vintage shops you can find in this uber cool quarter.

Manchester Food heaven
Unlike London, where you cannot enjoy the dining experience fully because you often have to keep track on how much you are spending, restaurants in Manchester are kinder to your purse without making you compromise on the variety or quality of food. Fancy some Italian? There are the sleek, high end Italian restaurant chain, San Carlo, dotted all over the city center for those who like to enjoy the finest Italian dining experience. There’s also Don Marco, which does an amazing lunch deal for £7 a course or £12 for two. Salvi’s Cucina is also an authentic option to go for! Fancy something cheaper? We have also your classic Carluccio’s, Pizza Express and Va Piano!

food in manchester

After that intense shopping spree, you need to refuel before you head home or do it all over again!

Just opposite Selfridges, Corn Exchange houses some of the most popular restaurants in the city. There you can find Vietnamese food, Indian, burgers and again, Italian. Across the street to Printswork, there are Mexican, Japanese and several pubs for those who’d rather enjoy their meal with a side of football. For those who enjoy a more authentic Asian dining experience, head to Chinatown to satisfy your cravings. Wasabi (not the London chain) is a more affordable and authentic alternative to Yo! Sushi and Try Thai does an amazing lunch deal. Its ground floor interior is also very grammable, which is always a bonus. Near but not in Chinatown, you can find the best Chinese restaurant in the city at The Rice Bowl – the perfect place to visit with a group of friends in order to taste as much as the menu as possible.

Whether you are coming from Manchester Piccadilly or not, I highly recommend you head to the Northern Quarter, where you will find the quirkiest and hippiest restaurants and cafes. There you will find the vegan legend – V Rev, where they serve the tastiest mac and cheese and vegan burgers! You also must not leave without stuffing your face with the BEST BURGER IN TOWN at Almost Famous. Get a grill-cheese sandwich to go from the Northern Grill. (I love it so much I’ve been featured in their insta!)

vegan burger

Save your pennies
One of the best thing about Manchester is that, although it is one of the major cities in the UK, it is much more affordable than London. It has basically everything that London has to offer: theatre – checked, Michelin star restaurants – checked, endless shops – checked, international community – checked… even employment opportunity is on par with the City, as many offices have set up their headquarters in Manchester because of the cheaper rents and lower expenses. International and national enterprises are shifting their attention from the capital city to this Northern capital because they realise that this is the place to be! Did you know that Tescos are more expensive in London than it is in Manchester?

The world is your oyster and Manchester is the ideal starting point

coffee spot in Manchester
Quirky but affordable coffee spots in Manchester

Gateway to your getaway
Should you ever run out of things to do in Manchester (impossible!), there are four train stations in the city, all fairly close to one another, to take you away to a town nearby or a city for away. Venture out to the Greater Manchester on a weekend and take a tram to Chorlton for an edgy brunch, or Alderly Edge to potentially bump into the Manchester footballers who live in one of the many mansions up the hill. Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool or York are just an hour or so away by train and so much cheaper to get to than from London, which is only two hours away from Manchester! If you fancy escaping further and out of England, the Manchester Airport is easily accessed to by train, tram and taxi.

Even though the city is 90% rain, your mood will never be dampened by the weather because of the surrounding people.

Manchester is friendly
Because you have made it this far, I thought I’d give you something special. The final and most important reason of all, people in Manchester are much more friendly! You are more likely be greeted by a stranger with a smile on the tram than you would down south, where the image of miserable looking commuters on the London tube is no stranger to all. Even though the city is 90% rain, your mood will never be dampened by the weather because of the surrounding people. On top of that, the tragedy after an Ariana Grande’s concert a few years ago has brought Mancunians closer and the sense of community is so great it’s infectious.

Honestly, give it a go, get a train or book a flight there for your next trip, Manchester will leave you inspired and wanting more.

Love,

Chantelle

*Chantelle is one of our guest editor from Hong Kong. She has lived in three different countries and have travelled across many continents. Having been in England for the past nine years and graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. Always passport ready, she is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. You can follow her on Instagram.

The International Firework Festival we think you should see

The International Fireworks Festival in Scheveningen 2017 gives a new definition to firework. Eight different countries such as China, France, The Netherlands and last year’s winner Spain, compete with each other and throw everything in the battle to be the very best. But, only one can be the winner, chosen by an experienced jury and welcomed by a beach full of enthusiasts. 

The fireworks are lit from a floating platform, 275 meters from Scheveningen beach, so the view is magnificent from the entire boulevard and beach. 

This is why you should to go
Normally I have to wait for fireworks untill New Years Eve, while freezing to death and feeling nauseous from an oliebollen overdose. (Try this Dutch traditional snack if you get the chance but don’t have more than 3!) I still remember the days that I wasn’t even old enough to light my own firework and just stared astonished at the colours going op in flames, high in the black sky. Meanwhile, I have already seen fireworks a million times. Well… 25 New Years Eves to be exactly. Slight difference: I’m now usually more focused on the the sparkles in the champagne than the ones in the sky.

International Fireworks Festival

The art of the International Fireworks Festival has completely changed the way I feel about fireworks. I saw the opening show on Friday the 11th of August and I was truly stunned by the way this sky art is made with rockets, colours, fire and sparkling shapes. I had goosebumps all over my body while watching the show from the Kurhaus balcony. Yet, this time the goosebumps weren’t caused by the temperature. For 10 minutes I could shout out nothing but sounds of excitement. The festival set the sky on fire and seemed to stop the time. There is no way I could explain the way it looks, because the words just wouldn’t do it justice. You’ll just have to check this one out yourself.

boulevard-scheveningen-11-8-2017-richard-mulder

Tip: If you want to add a little bit more sparkle to the show, book the Fireworks Festival Waves Package at Kurhaus. The view from the luxurious balcony is stunning and enables you to enjoy the thrilling show while enjoying a three-course dinner. Food and fireworks, what’s not to like?

The International Fireworks Festival is held on August 18th with the final on the 19th. Watching this spectacle is free!

Check the website for more info.

Love,

Eva

Restaurant Bureau » Amsterdam’s Hidden Rooftop

This could well be one of Amsterdam’s best kept secrets. Restaurant Bureau is a rooftop restaurant in Amsterdam West with a story of it’s own. Bureau Amsterdam is part of B-Amsterdam. The building was originally build for the IBM headquarters but when they departed it was empty for 12 years until it finally became a new opportunity for start-up businesses. You can book a work spot for as little as 75 euro’s per month or if you’re beginning a new venture you can rent office space and share the building with tons of creative people. You can find restaurant Bureau in a secluded area where you will find businesses, hospitals and other industrial buildings. But this place is definitely worth the extra bicycle ride.

Entrace Restaurant Bureau Amsterdam
We serve people, not titles. The entrance of Bureau

The Rooftop
This one is different than any rooftop you will come across. The rooftop garden was designed and built by Rooftop Doctors and GrownDownTown and you can compare it to a fun park with lot’s of green. There are old car wrecks, a small beach area and a pont with fish. You want a fresh mint tea? You can pick it yourself from the herb garden! Wanna play some Jeu de Boules? No problem. 75{8b669be72a7f340f9ef2d6d852585cd40ddf0e79ccf763f3ea93c1234c3d888b} that grows here, you can eat. Herbs and plants are maintained by recycled rainwater that falls on the roof. They even have a strawberry hill with several types of strawberries and a hen of chickens that provide the restaurant with some daily fresh eggs.

Rooftop Restaurant Bureau Amsterdam

The Restaurant
Bureau only opened a few weeks ago and you can feel the buzz, even if they intentionally didn’t want to promote it. “We want our customers by word of mouth and let them experience it for themselves.”- Explains manager Laurens. I was dying to see it so I walked in last Friday to see it with my own eyes. The interior is spacious, yet cozy with a bar molded out of the steel plates that once lay on the roof. The lights are all individually made and you can pull a cord in order to change their height. If you look closely, you can see that they are made out of porcelain plates! Chef Niels Veenvliet (you may know him from restaurant Choux), works with a new menu every 2 months so people come back to taste different flavors. If you love wine you might like the fact that they serve Vinos Naturales at restaurant Bureau. This basically means nothing weird is added and you drink the wine in it’s purest vorm. This may taste a bit different than you’re used to but I loved it!

Restaurant Bureau


Something unique, the lights at restaurant Bureau

bureau amsterdam

Rooftop restaurant bureau amsterdam
When the sun is out, you have plenty of choice

When you have dinner, you will receive a small amuse and you can bet on it that they’ve used something from the garden. I ordered the fish soup with langoustine as a starter and the vegetarian risotto as a main course. Both very tasty in their own right plus the bread they serve at restaurant Bureau is to die for. When you’re a dessert kind of person, make sure you order a coffee because it’s roasted by a Dutch label named Moyee coffee. They focus on Fairtrade so the farmers in the country of origin (Ethiopia) get their fair share. 

Diiner at restaurant Bureau
Tasty and healthy!

sunset at restaurant bureau
Sunset at restaurant Bureau

Amsterdam is a new rooftop richer and this one is right up my street. Creative, sustainable and they truly serve people, not titles.

Restaurant Bureau
B. Amsterdam – 5th Floor
Johan huizingalaan 763a Amsterdam
020 723 84 92
www.atthebureau.amsterdam/restaurant

Love,

Elke

Looiedet Coffee & Toast in Amsterdam New West

I live outside the “ring” in Amsterdam which means I don’t live in the center but this doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do around here! I live in Amsterdam new west and I’m happily surprised to see new cafe’s, restaurants and shops opening up by the month. So has Looiedet Coffee & Toast.

Even though they’ve been open for weeks now, I had never heard from this cool lunchroom yet. It all started with the motorcycle lessons school. They used the space to fix bikes and it quickly became a hangout for friends, family and acquaintances. So why not expand right? The result was a place to book your motorcycle lessons, a barbershop, a vintage bike store and a coffee/lunch bar. The perfect combination for people on the go that enjoy coffee and a simple but tasty meal. On the menu you can choose out of 15 different toasts from mozzarella with pesto to banana and nutella.

Looiedet Coffee & Toast
The original toasts as we know it

Looiedet Coffee & Toast recently invested in the king of coffee machines and even held a party to celebrate it. The Sanremo Opera is the best technical coffee machine out there and you can really taste the purity of the beans after it’s roasted and pressed into your cup. The only downside is that they don’t serve soy milk so that’s a shame for the peeps that have an intolerance to milk. Maybe this is a sneaky hint..? Besides coffee they also serve delicious leaf tea’s and with that the occasional cakes or scones.

Looiedet Coffee & Toast
The king of the coffee machines is ready for you!

The building has a very nice industrial look and feel and looks like a place where hip Amsterdam would normally sit. However, the owner told me: “we like to keep this place low key and gain customers by word of mouth. Bike lovers, men with beards and people who enjoy good coffee and a killer toasty are at the right address here. “Everything we serve is Halal too so whether you own a bike or not, everybody is welcome!” In the store you will find jeans, shirts and cool vintage biker stuff while upstairs the men can get their  beard pimped. If you’re an early bird, you can get a coffee for just 2 euros until 10am.

Barber shop Looiedet
Hair did. Beard did.

For me it’s just around the corner but even if you’re not in the neighborhood, this place is definitely worth the extra bicycle (or motorcycle) ride!

Looiedet Coffee & Toast
Burgemeester Rendorpstraat 11-15, Amsterdam
Tel: 020 411 6688 / Opening hours: 9am – 6pm Mon – Sun
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Love,

Elke