‘Excuse me! Don’t you know it’s Christmas?!’
I tartly called out to a scurrying figure through the crowds of the Manchester Christmas Markets while I brushed drops of mulled wine off my brand new coat. He had just pushed me to the side spilling my cup over me.
Ah well, there’s no point crying over spilled wine and actually, I would forgive him as ’tis the season of goodwill and all that.
So what was I doing here in Manchester on the other side of England from where I’m from, only just two hours away? Well, aside from
little moderate large amounts of mulled wine, I was actually here for a mini-Travel Massive Meet-Up of the Manchester Branch.
Invited by one of the founders of the group (and good friend of mine), Mia of UK Travel Room, I was determined to make this event after missing the first three throughout this year.
This mini-meet-up was actually organised to coincide with the Manchester Christmas Markets that usually run between mid November and just before Christmas every year.
Last year, I came here and absolutely loved the entire experience whether it was ice skating, singing with an Elvis Impersonator, wandering the chalet-lined streets of the markets, scoffing on Hungarian Goulash and more importantly, drinking the fabled gluhwein.
So you can see why I was pretty anxious to return here this year, this time in the company of three other gorgeous ladies ever to grace the travel blogging scene. All of us were northerners in our own right rather than the hipster and imported beer swilling southerners in London (Love you, guys, really!) The girls were:
Helen – Helen in Wonderlust – Inspirational stories, travel tips and motivation for female adventure travel around the world.
Mia – UK Travel Room – Travel Breaks of an Adopted Mancurian.
Leasha – My Trip This Year – sharing how you can be a student and still get to were you really want to be!
So as we managed to get a pretty epic view of the Albert Square in Manchester after waiting in line to climb the stairs and onto the balcony of the main chalet. As we chatted about all things travel blogging, why we love gluhwein and the length of my selfie stick, I was struck by the colours of the Market as the evening few darker casting a camp and glamorous glow on City Hall.
This was probably the moment when I became truly festive for Christmas. Laughter pealed in the air. The air was cold but we were wrapped up for hibernation. We gorged on lengthy bratwursts – its smells punctuating the air tinged with the spiciness of English mustard. I could relax. It’s Christmas! I could rejoice seeing snow sprayed Christmas trees and its glittering baubles sparked by fairy light. This would be a pleasant evening, I grinned to myself. Let’s all get into the festive spirit! Or so little did I thought…
As the evening darkened, the foot traffic around the 300 stall Christmas Market swelled, all scrabbling over each other for that much-needed mulled wine at the bar or mouth-watering foods from all over Europe. People barged their way through, hands clutching on luxurious goods from the busy chalets, making their way to relax with a hot chocolate if they are successful. Twice, I was almost bowled over, almost losing my fellow travel bloggers in the crowds that resembled waves of a perfect storm sparked by the heavy drops of rain from the highly predicted Mancunian weather above.
No, I wasn’t feel festive now. What happened to the magical vibes from last year? Why has the Manchester Christmas Markets turned against the fantastic foursome of the Travel Blogging world?
But we stuck it out. Using our reserves of the British…reserve and stiff upper lip, we continued pow-wowing each other while we eyed up the Dutch mini-pancakes being served up, enticing our bellies to grumble.
A great joy from this mini-meet up was meeting Leasha for the first time. She’s a fellow Humberside resident like me (although she’s from the dark side in Grimsby). Yet she had the great idea of starting up a travel blog while she’s still at university; an idea I always wished I’ve done. This is what the Travel Massive Meets are all about. Meeting like-minded peers, sharing ideas and gaining that all important contact that could change your life.
Meanwhile, the rain still persisted, our resolve weakening from being pushed about. Yet we remained in festive cheer. Christmas is a time to wonder, whether magical or colourful, with It was time to call it a day. It was time to go home. But again, as I started to finish the last dregs of my mulled wine, I was knocked into the side again spilling the precious wine on my coat. But he stopped to apologise and utter the only two words that could bring everyone together at this time of year.
Merry Christmas to you too.
Did you go to Manchester Christmas Market?