Two Incredibly Different British Cities: My Insight on Newcastle and Manchester

Instead of rocketing our way back down from Scotland to London, Mikaela and I decided to take a few days to explore a couple of England’s popular cities.  To be perfectly honest, MTV’s horrible program Geordie Shore was the main reason for our Newcastle trip.  A boy from Manchester once told me he loves his hometown, but he’ll never go back.  That intriguing negativity alone drew me into the city.

Surprisingly, the two cities blew me away—for completely different reasons.

Clean, classy Newcastle has a smart pedestrian area that leads to a gigantic statue of Charles Earl Grey.  A daily market offers fresh food and local crafts.  Heading south from the monument, an expensive shopping street lined with modern glass benches takes you to the riverfront.

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Newcastle upon Tyne receives its identity from the numerous bridges stretched across the Tyne.  From the Millennium Bridge staring west, I counted six.  The river is a ritzy area, full of business men in expensive suits and film crews casting documentaries.  It’s a stunning, shinny area of town, especially when the golden sun is high in the sky, reflecting across the black water and music hall’s large windows.

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Despite feeling extremely under the weather, Mikaela and I had to go out.  We squished our way into Bijoux and Perdu—two of the Geordie’s infamous hangouts—amongst orange, self-tanned woman in ridiculously high heels and tight skirts.  Everything about them, from their thick eyelashes and long extensions to their manicured gel toenails, was fake.

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Still, we had a good time fist-pumping to party music.  We narrowly missed our bus to Manchester the next morning.

As the bus weaved its way through England’s narrow lanes, I stared out the bus window, wondering how someone could love a place, but never want to return.

Approaching the city, I understood immediately.

The district of Manchester is run-down and barren.  Basketball courts are gated off, public parks are graffitied.  In an odd way, it’s beautifully terrifying.

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The city center is buzzing.  Thomas Street is rambunctious, random, and wild.  The entire area is a stark contrast to Newcastle’s pristine gleam.  Manchester is honest in a way that most of England’s cities aren’t—it won’t dress up in a frilly sundress and drink tea to impress tourists.  It will, however, scream with street art and bizarre side shops and buskers that keep singing the same one line to Wonderwall over, and over, and over.P1090443

At night, the various pub, bars, and cafes illuminate the dark cobblestone streets in a warm red glow.  Mikaela and I scammed free wifi from a quiet pub to escape the incessant heat inside our hostel.  People wore, did, and said exactly what they wanted.  I loved it.

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Feeling clammy and uncomfortable the next afternoon, we explored the local art gallery and wandered downtown.  The ambience created by the thick concrete and dry parks of the city was enough to make me long for wide open fields and country air.

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Manchester is punk and alternative while Newcastle is posh and upclass.  I enjoy feeling safe wandering Newcastle at any moment of the day or night, but I was pulled in by Manchester’s urban pulse.

I love the incredible differences to be enjoyed in various English cities that are only hours apart.

Have you been to Newcastle or Manchester?  What was your experience?  Please feel free to comment and share your opinion!

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4 thoughts on “Two Incredibly Different British Cities: My Insight on Newcastle and Manchester

  1. I went to England last year and I remember looking out the window on the train as it stopped in the middle of a bridge and I soon realised it was the Tyne. I never stopped in Newcastle but like you I was drawn to it because of Geordie Shore. I told myself I’ll be there next time and after reading your account I think I will very much enjoy the trip too.

    As for Manchester, I was there to visit a few friends who live there or close to (in Leeds) as well as flights from Sydney were cheaper. Manchester had such an alternative and eclectic vibe and I thoroughly enjoyed people watching especially how funkily dressed people were. My first night there was truly an eye opener as my mates took me to amazing bars and pubs that are unlike the ones I had been to in Sydney. Then there was the night walk down Canal street in the gay district where my hotel was – that was VERY interesting!

    The artwork was amazing around the Northern Quarter and I spent a dat roaming around taking photos. The building with thw big bird was my hostel. I stayed at the top floor of that building.. 230 steps, no public access to the lift other than for luggage! And Afflecks down the road was a fantastic market of alternative, punk, rockabilly and vintage goods.

    I absolutely loved Manchester which surprised me a lot. I was there during the Christmas markets which probably made me fall in love with the place even more. My only qualm with the city is how eerie and quiet some streets get in the day but mostly at night which made me want to walk faster or take a longer route just so I know I can get to my destination in one piece. Yet my friend would laugh at me and would reassure me that it’s completely safe

  2. Pingback: Comment on Two Incredibly Different British Cities: My Insight on Newcastle and Manchester by panterawrr

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