Manchester. Not the soccer team.

To much of the world, Manchester is home to one thing: Manchester United FC. For most of my life, I mainly thought of it as home to Manchester Airport. But over the past few years, I’ve discovered that Manchester is surprisingly cool.

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Granted, my family lives next door to a dairy farm, so the simple act of taking a supremely easy train journey and arriving 30 minutes later in a big city is already pretty exciting. But as someone who loves downtown Santiago for its ornate architecture, I especially appreciate Manchester’s gritty buildings and the contrast between old and new. Luckily it would appear that this is a place where cultural revival doesn’t mean knocking down every last bit of history.

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On our last trip to the city, Rodolfo and I had a casual lunch and did a bit of shopping before making our way to the Museum of Science and Industry. This turned out to be a mistake because the MOSI is absolutely fascinating and deserved far more than the 2 hours we had to give to it. We didn’t even make it into all of the galleries.

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What we did manage to learn is that basically everything to ever be discovered or invented happened in Manchester. This city lays claim to both atomic theory and atom splitting, the first railroad, even vegetarianism! And, of course, the first professional football league. Who knew?

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Sadly I do not have a photo of the absolute best thing in all of Manchester and possibly the world: family naan. Akbar’s Indian restaurant is the place to go for a good curry and a naan bread the size of a beach ball, intended to serve the whole family. Google it, seriously. There are plenty of other good restaurants and hip bars, of course, which makes popping up to the city after work a very attractive proposal.

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While Manchester may in many minds always be followed by the word “United,” there’s far more to this city than a sports team.

More fun Manchester facts here.

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