Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Manchester, England, England

Not being a football/soccer fan, which has been apparent recently amidst the World Cup craze, it hadn't dawned on me until this morning, that I would be spending the next few days in the home of "the world's most popular football team." Rather, as a quasi-stereotypical gay man, I was thinking of the song from the musical Hair and the venue of the original, British series Queer as Folk. At any rate, here I am, in Manchester, England, England // Across the Atlantic Sea.

My mother always makes fun of me for choosing the most complex, indirect routes between the US and Tel Aviv, very much unlike the only acceptable option during most of my childhood and adolescence: JFK-TLV-JFK (or TLV-JFK-TLV, depending on where our "home base" was at the time), usually non-stop, usually on El Al.

The most natural route for me these days is PHL-TLV-PHL on US Airways, earning miles in its Star Alliance partner, United Airlines, where I am, for the second time, a Premier Executive (aka Star Alliance Gold) member. As you can see, this blog post is already taking a different direction than my usual political and social ranting and commentary. The two of you who find this interesting may read on. The rest of you, move on to my next post, which will also be here today (and which will only interest two people as well, but two different people).

Originally, I was supposed to be at the tail end of Franklin & Marshall's first ever summer travel course in Cairo. The combination of my recent accident and subsequent surgical procedures and a denial of my Egyptian visa application left me in Lancaster until a few days ago. But I had already booked my onward journey from Cairo to Tel Aviv via Istanbul, including a two-night stopover, complete with hotel reservations, so I decided to make the best of it.

Also, my friend Maciej, who teaches at the University of Manchester, keeps asking me to come visit him, either here in England or in his home in Warsaw, and my friend Roy and his wife Maya have extended a standing invitation for me to visit them in Zürich, so I embarked on a task involving what I probably do best: booking flight reservations!

Having canceled my December trip to Israel with US Airways, I had over $1,100 in credit with them that I felt compelled to use. So I booked the outgoing and incoming legs of my trip with them, namely PHL-LHR and ZRH-TLV. I planned on staying in London for the night and then flying to Manchester. So the next leg on my trip was LHR-MAN on bmi. The first two legs of my trip have been executed. my next flight, in three days, will be MAN-IST, followed by two days in the former Ottoman capital and then IST-TLV, both flights on Turkish Airlines. After a month(!) in Israel, I'll be flying TLV-ZRH on Swiss. Since booking round trips is cheaper than one-way tickets (usually), I booked a return flight (ZRH-TLV) for December. I may or may not use it.

I have the somewhat unhealthy habit of comparing new places to other places with which I am more familiar. For instance, when I visited Puerto Rico recently, I was thinking it reminded me of the West Bank, Jordan, the Bronx and Québec in equal parts, with perhaps a dash of a Brazilian rain forest (though I've never seen one in person). Manchester, and in particular the City Centre, is so far reminiscent of some mainland European city (perhaps Leipzig or parts of Warsaw or Berlin) and (I can't escape Jordan, it seems), Amman. It has a huge mall, but it's almost nothing like an American, or even Israeli mall. It's more like a patchwork of shops, the kind of which I have in fact witnessed in the capitals of both Jordan and Poland. And either a Starbucks or some British chain coffee shop on each corner. Now that I'm digging a bit deeper in my mind, I'm getting a bit of an Edinburgh sensation too, but really, this paragraph is becoming more and more irrelevant to anything.

I'm obviously obsessed with the similarities and differences between the English spoken here and the North American varieties to with I am much more accustomed. But someone else is already blogging about that, so I'll probably skip that. I did, however, find it amusing that the gentleman sitting next to me on the plane from London to Manchester couldn't help but giggling when he heard another guy speak on the phone in a pronounced Liverpool dialect (or, as he called it Scouse). That being said, I will be venturing out to the birthplace of the Fab Four shortly after I wake from this night's sleep. I already checked the train schedule and everything.

Once that happens, I'll have an excuse to write some more. I'll definitely write from Turkey. I somehow even managed to get a colleague of mine to meet me their and show me around a bit. I haven't been there since a family trip in 1992, i.e., before Al Gore invented the Internet.

Now the next post (before Liverpool) will focus on a particular interaction I had in Manchester today. Stay tuned.


  1. This post is just as enjoyable as chocolate!

  2. Awww. What I forgot to mention (but maybe I told you this before) was that the US flight to LHR was on a fairly new Airbus 330 with pretty comfy seats in economy, personal screens with video and audio on demand, standard (one-pin) headphone jacks, and ... USB outlets! So I was able to hook up me iPad and not worry about the battery going flat on me.


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