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Manchester Town Centre & The National Football Museum

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What to do in Manchester

Published by Oat Sitalasai — 4 years ago

To me and many like minded people around the world, the first thing thing that would come to my head when the town Manchester is mentioned is football. For this experience, I would like to share with you some cool things to do in Manchester, as well as a super chill place to grab a few drinks and something to eat. For football lovers out there, you guys better continue reading because I will later go on to share with you all the one and only football museum here in the city, and literally ''the'' museum to head to if you love the game like me.


Manchester is a relatively small city. The center of the city is quite small and could be easily covered on foot within a day. There is honestly not too much to do here in Manchester or around it, but I would say that one of the reasons people would travel here - with many tourists coming from all around the world - is to visit the holy grail of football, at Old Trafford. In fact, my friend and I travelled to Manchester for this very reason. If you love football, there needs to be at least one moment in your life where you visit this place, which is considered by many as one of the epicentres of football, along with a few other places like Anfield of Liverpool and the great Wembley Stadium, as well as the likes of other places in Spain (Santiago Bernabéu Stadium of Real Madrid, Camp Nou of Barcelona), Italy (San Siro of AC Milan and Inter Milan), Portugal (Estadio da Luz of Benfica) and Germany (Allianz Area of Bayern Munich and Olypiastadion in Berlin).

Let's now step away from the football for a quick moment, and into our favourite topic of food! I will begin in the evening, then head into the day time with the discussion of the football museum and the town centre, but let's say that you've just landed in Manchester, checked in to your accommodation, and now you can really do with a nice dinner and a local beer. Not to worry, since I have got just the right place for you, with awesome food, loads of drinks, and of course, super friendly, service-minded locals. This place goes by the name of The Moon Under Water on 68-74 Deansgate. Before I go on to praise this place, I would like to first share with you that the comments and opinions on Trip Advisor for this place is really mixed. The opinions are quite spread out between excellent and terrible, so do a bit of research, or just really trust me on this one.

We went straight for the food menu, which has a lot of interesting items. They have a very good menu of what I would describe as ''bar food'' like your typical Fish and Chips, burgers, steaks, tapas and all that good stuff to soak in the beers. Since it was already quite late at night, my friend and I went for a platter to share, which was the perfect choice for us. We went ahead and order at the bar as well as got our drinks. Like I said, the staff here are really nice, so I have no idea what all the fuss on Trip Advisor about the ''cold'' staff is all about.


About 20 minutes after placing our order, and maybe two beers later, we got our food. The platter consists of, wait for it, onion rings, potato wedges, deep-fried crumbed mushrooms, a small rack of pork ribs (tiny portion), deep-fried chicken breasts and toasted ciabatta bread. With this, we got two sauces, which were barbecue and my beloved mayonnaise. This is clearly not a dinner in any shape or form, but rather some finger foods to go along with the drinks and the conversation. There was, in fact, another platter that we could have chosen from, but that one was more full on with chicken wings and all that, which as healthy young men on vacation, didn't take - we were saving it up for the greasy, rich, beer-battered fish and chips with mushy peas!

It was a super casual dinner which was centred around the drinks.

Just before we move away from this, I must say that you will never be hungry if you just take a walk along Deansgate. This street has a bunch of bars and restaurants all right next to each other, with menus at the front of all of them so you can have a look and make your decision before going in. Just one thing to bare in mind, is that you should always have a legitimate identity card on you, as these places are also licensed as a bar and the security personnel at the front will need to be sure of your age through your identity card. I know that this isn't the case in certain places, but just to be safe, I would carry something with me, because there's nothing worse that seeing just what you want on the menu, but can't get in, then settling for McDonald's or something else.

Moving on into the morning now, and what should we do? Other than the football match at Old Trafford, or The Etihad if you see Manchester as blue and not red like most of the world population, you should definitely head towards the same direction as Deansgate, but this time, take a walk along the lively Market Street. So every town and city has it's very own ''main street'' that people always walk around and you could, refer to as the meeting spot. Well, Market Street is that street.


What I particularly enjoy about Market Street is its liveliness, even at 10:00am in the morning. As you could see from the picture that I took very quickly, there was a man there since early in the morning making a living by playing on his musical instrument. This is a sight that you won't get in every town and city, that is for sure. And even in the background, you have got early risers going about their shopping already, very impressive indeed!


There are plenty of shops and things to see here on Market Street, and yes, on both sides! It's a walking street which is just adjacent to the main shopping mall of Manchester, Manchester Arndale Shopping Centre. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and services here. There are stores such as Sports Direct (massive store for sports, with a good section for football), Aldo, Boots, Burton, Claire's, Doctor Martens, Foot Locker, Fossil, G Star, Guess, H&M (the best store in the world), Holland & Barrett, Hollister, Levi's, Nike, Next, Pandora and the list literally just goes on and on and on, but just for the sake of your wallet, I will stop here. For more information on what other stores are here at Manchester Arndale, as well as special offers and events, be sure to follow their link just at the end of this experience post.


While you could literally spend the whole day shopping and wandering around here, it's best that you don't spend too much time here. I would recommend heading to the National Football Museum some time during your trip here in Manchester. What I find to be really interesting is that if you just type into google search, ''football museum, '' the very first suggestion would be football museum manchester. Don't get me wrong, I am recommending this visit to the museum as an activity for everyone! Just like in Paris here with the Musée du Louvre and Musée d'Orsay, the content and events happening beyond the doors will only appeal and serve as interesting to a specific group of people, and this is just the same for a football museum. But since football is just an international sport and a global symbol of unity, I find the museum to be very fascinating and inspirational.


First thing first, getting in is completely free, and this should encourage you to visit! But how does this place make money then? Well, a part of your experience here at the National Football Museum is the activities and ''challenges'' they have throughout the building. There are little rooms for you to put your skills to the test with drills for juggling the ball (keeping the ball in the air without letting it drop to the ground), a penalty challenge against a computerised goal keeper (even Lionel Messi can't score a penalty pass him) and many more! These challenges and activities will require you to buy credits. Other than this, and just on ground floor as the entrance, there is a big souvenir shop for you to buy magnets, jerseys, posters, coasters and much more!


Just next to the souvenir shop, before we move on, there is a very interesting presentation of the players that represented England over at the recent World Cup in 2014 which was held over in Brazil. The drawings are in black and white, with occasional touches of gold, which I find to be really impressive. In addition to that, every single portrait of the players are individually signed by the very players themselves! I bet it was not just me that wanted to buy one and put it up in my living room.

Now that we're still on ground floor, let's structure our trip here by levels shall we? As you enter, you will be greeted by once again really friendly locals which are super passionate for the game, as well as super proud of its history. The personnels here are super knowledgable and you could ask them almost anything. He briefly explained to us how the museum is divided then asked us where we had come from and all that stuff. We had a great chat with the gentleman, but since we were a bit tight for time, we had to keep moving.


The ground floor will see you come face to face with the Barclays English Premier League Trophy as well as the trophy held by the champions of the world's oldest football knockout competition, and where the magic happens year after year, The Football Association Cup, or better recognised as The FA Cup. At this point, our eyes were literally glimmering with appreciating and I guess, for no use of better words, shock. I had never imagined that I would one day come face to face with these two trophies, especially when they were three meters from me! Now I know what it means when people say ''so close yet so far''.


We also got up close with some of the most cherished items in the history of the footballing world. For example, this very museum has the very ball that the very David Beckham kicked and scored the decisive penalty against Argentina in the World Cup of 2002 in Japan and South Korea, which also turned out to be the very last kick of the hard fought contest that sent England through to the next knock out round!


Furthermore, you also have the very jersey, worn by German footballing legend, Jurgen Klinsmann (current head coach of the United States men national football team; he's a big deal) during his playing career over here in the top league of England. These items are truly very memorable and even more valuable assets to the country that sleeps, lives, and breathes the beautiful game.

What was not too far was Level 1, which can easily be accessed through the escalators next to the trophies. Here, you will be greeted with a section dedicated to the famous commentaries by the British Broadcasting Company on historical moments we have seen in English football up to date. For example, my friend who is a crazy Newcastle United supporter, was listening to a very special where Alan Shearer had scored a very important goal for the club. This section did not appeal to me so much, but I still think that the idea of compiling all the famous moments and their commentaries in one place is really neat. The thing is, you can only hear the voices through the headphones and there are no graphics. This makes you want to close your eyes and live in that exact moment, all over again. Just a stone throw away from this commentary section, you will be at :

  • The Game: This part will educate you about the history and development of what we now know as football. This starts from the very beginning when a football looked completely different from what we now recognise as football, so in short, from day one until the present day.
  • Fans: This is a little section dedicated to how the fans have also evolved through time with the game. You will be surprised to see who the first fans were, but I guess this all makes sense because football is one big entertainment business similar to TV shows and other things along this line. As the game is always on the change, so are the fans.
  • Clubs: Do you ever wonder how big clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United gained their ranks? Good things take time and everything has to start from zero, and this section will illustrate the history of the clubs. Just a point worth sharing here, is that they have the original jersey of the Arsenal team that went unbeaten the entire Barclays English Premier League Season back about a decade ago. The condition still looks perfect as if it was just worn this morning. And the best part, there are, of course autographs of the members of that famous Arsenal squad, and the players who went from zero to hero, and the players that the younger generation now recognize as ''legends'' of the club.


  • Global Game : This section is more focused on the fame around the world, as a global mark. This will touch on the World Cup and other great international moments that the world has seen through the beautiful game.
  • UEFA: Very similar to the Global Game in concept, with the difference being that UEFA only focuses on Europe as a footballing continent. Just like everything else in football and the world, the governing body of European football has been through some major changes. All in all, this is an interesting section about the world's most dynamic and most watched footballing region.

Let's now go up one more floor to Level 2. This is where all the fun begins, but before all you get your hands, I mean, your feet dirty, you must first learn the rules, which are located and creatively presented through Laws. This is where you come to see how much the rules have changed through the years, as well as appreciate how stressful a job it is to be a referee! Their penalty section is that I was talking about early, but again, you will need to buy credits. Since I know that my penalty taking skills are completely rubbish, I didn't even bother to embarrass myself, in front of a robotic goalkeeper. Other than the penalty shooting challenge, you also get the passing challenge, the one-two and the shot stopper challenges on this level.

If you're not interested because you don't have any credits, then just move on to learn about the tactics and understand what managers actually see when they look at a player. There is a video recording of Arsene Wenger answering questions about recognizing a talent and what expectations for players should be at certain ages. Another super cool element that we got out from this floor is their presentation of how our body works as an athlete and how the professionals at the very top level of the game need to take care of themselves. This part is especially fascinating to me, as well as to everyone since it involves taking care of oneself. As most of us know, football players make loads of money (in the millions alone from their wage and much more from endorsements), a player that is 100% fit and ready to perform is worth a lot of money. With this, we were shown what the football physiotherapists do for these world-class players as well as what they have in their little bag that they carry with them onto the field to treat a player! I felt like I was in a health class for a few minutes but it is small attention to details like this that makes the whole experience so complete.

Level 3 is just full on emotional, as in it really hits the feels. This is because this floor is dedicated to the history of the game, especially through the unfortunate events of the two World Wars. There are some amazing stories of both men and women partaking in the game during the war, and at times, there were games between the two opposing sides of the war, where they would take a break from the bloodshed and unnecessary fighting and enjoy the beautiful game. This beautiful event is known today as The Christmas Truce, which took place back in the winter of 1914. It was here on Christmas eve that the Germans and the British shared their common points, and sung Christmas songs together. Stories have it that in the morning, German soldiers crossed the line separating the two sides and into the trenches of their ''enemies'', only to greet them with ''Merry Christmas'' in English! While the British troops obviously thought that this was a dirty trick, they soon came to realize that the opposing German troops did not carry any weapons with them. From this point onwards, the two sides enjoyed the day together, shaking hands, swapping gifts (which was far and few) in cigarettes and other items lying around, and of course, the two parties played a game of football. One does not need to be a football fan to come to realize that our world does have hope, and that the fightings that are forcing people to kill each other is nothing but words of command for those in power. This was a very touching experience and one of the many things that I vividly remember from the museum.

The top two levels were pretty much off limits for us as you have their special suite at the very top and a learning centre for events and activities on level 4. This concluded our trip to the National Football Museum very nicely and I am very glad that we did manage to find time for this place in our schedule. I will say this again, even for those not into football like us two, a visit to the National Football Museum will still be engaging and informative, and of course, fun!


Once you exit from The National Football Museum, it's probably that time of the day that your body tells you to get something to eat. If you are like me, this time of the day occurs every 60 minutes. Well, if this situation does ever present itself while you're around this area, you're just in luck because I have an amazing place to share with you for an afternoon snack. The place, as all know it, is called Aldi Super Market. But to those not familiar with the concept, what is so special about Aldi that it deserves a mention? One thing that they do really well here other than selling things quite cheaply, is baking fresh breads and pastries every single morning. We actually passed by Aldi earlier to get some water, but we noticed the strong aroma that came from their ovens.


Without any hesitation, we got ourselves some bags and got some fresh pastries that were still warm from their time in the oven. I got myself some chocolate croissants as well as a piece of donut with chocolate ice glazing on top. My friend though, who is not really the definition of a morning person, only went for a cookie and a smaller croissant. I now know far too well that travelling on a budget will mean that you have to follow the modern concept of life that is ''you only live once''. With this mentality in the back of my mind, I grabbed the freshest of the baked goods, so that I could enjoy them throughtout the day. Sometimes, good things will not come to those that wait, but to those that take advantage of fresh pastries and breads in the morning, with a little of luck and a some skills of good timing!


I hope that our experience here in the centre of Manchester has given you some ideas about the place a little bit better. If anything, you know that you can find really good eatsfrom a diverse selection of cuisines on Deansgate, or go shopping and knock yourself (more like your wallet and your credit card) out at Manchester Arndale Shopping Centre or take a short walk from Market Street to The National Football Museum for an unforgettable, yet completely free of charge, experience like we had. Manchester isn't so boring after all!

If you like the content of this post, or just want to check out some pictures that I take on my adventure, feel free to like and/or follow me on instagram at oat93, cheers!

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