Our hotel was a Victorian themed place and I use the word theme because it seemed to be a bit more Disneyfied and we found some of the decor to be a bit off-putting. The rooms featured faux electric candles and the TV was framed in a golden mirror; when turned off you could actually look into it as a mirror. We did watch the EastEnders Olympic episode on the Victorian mirror and as someone who intermittently enjoys it, two seasons behind in the States, it was fun to get a glimpse into future storylines.
In the evening we spent our time slowly packing and trying to weed out any unnecessary items before planning for the schlep bag to Manchester. We would be taking the bus to Scarborough, followed by a train to York and then a train to Manchester. Robin Hood’s Bay does not have a train, so bus is really the only option. There are trains, however, that run direct from Scarborough to York, but to save a little money we booked in advance and a took a longer route. If you find yourself in our position and you need to take the bus from Robin Hood’s Bay, be sure to get up early and take a bus before 9am. The buses after 9am are the pensioners buses and the pensioners ride for free. Now this is a lovely idea and I wish that we had the same in the States, but this means that the buses are packed. Upon boarding the bus we became intimately reacquainted with the Fast Walking Bacon Eaters, because there was simply no room to sit and we stood up with all of our bags for 45 minutes facing the opposite direction of the driver. After three weeks without automobile transport, to standup like that, while the driver sped up and down windy country roads, we nearly lost our full English breakfast many a time.
We also did not anticipate how lovely the town of Scarborough would be and wished that we had more time to explore. The bus from St. Bee’s takes you right to the Scarborough station. We were about an hour early and the town is very walkable with lots of shops. It was difficult to get about with our luggage, so we took turns watching the luggage and exploring.
Arriving in Manchester, we were instantly saddened. We had booked at the Bewley’s and after our lively three week adventure we were not eager to become reacquainted with suburban sprawl. We could see the Bewley’s from the train station, it was maybe a quarter of a mile away, but the highway sprawl made it impossible to navigate. Instead we had to call for a shuttle and be taken back to the hotel. The hotel itself was like all corporate chains: cold and impersonal. I am not quite sure of the UK rules on smoking in hotels, but this hotel reeked of cigarette smoke. We didn’t want to stay inside our room a minute longer than necessary. When booking this trip, we imagined that we would be too tired to do any sight seeing in Manchester, but we were still itching to travel and explore.
There are many fabulous museums in Manchester, but they were all closed by the time we arrived. I took some time in the lobby to examine some brochures and came across one for The Cornerhouse, a four story building with unique artists spaces. There was a bookstore, a locally sourced cafe, an art theatre, and two floors of exhibition space. David Shrigley, whose work “How Are You Feeling Today” on the Highline, which I mentioned in an earlier post will have an exhibition there in September. This was the perfect place to explore before the end of our trip. If you do come to visit via Manchester Airport, take the train to Manchester Oxford Rd. We took the train to the city center and it adds quite a bit of a walk.
Manchester was a good immersion back to city life, as we would be back in the bustle of NY in less than a day. It was that weird feeling you get at the end of a vacation where you don’t want it to end, where you want to keep exploring, like Huck on the raft; you don’t want to go home and face the reasons you left in the first place.