Having lived in Manchester for two years, and spent a lot of time there growing up, I would say I know the city quite well. Having lived in Madrid for five months, maybe I know it less so, but it got me to thinking how Manchester and Madrid differ, how they are alike, and what elements they have in common. When it comes down to it, there are a few ways in which the cities are similar to each other, and I thought it’d make an interesting read!
- Unique, quirky areas: Manchester is renowned for its Northern Quarter, where you can find an edgy vintage shop selling reconditioned denim on one corner, and a cocktail bar selling drinks of all strange concoctions and creations on the opposite. Madrid has areas like this too, such as Lavapiés which is an area made up of mainly immigrants, so if you want to sample some real, authentic and extremely tasty food from differing cultures, this is definitely the place to go. There are also eccentric little cocktail bars here, not unlike the ones in La Latina. You could even take the metro to Tribunal and wander in the surrounding area, where you’ll find amazing street art similar to that of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and where, most like Manchester, you can find groups of bloggers taking photographs with the oh-so-edgiest of graffitied walls and authentic houses.
- Football: football is such a big part of Manchester culture. Derby day is horrific for anyone who needs to pass through the city centre, use the metrolink or in fact any of the public transport systems. But theres something uniting and powerful about being apart of a football team, and in Madrid, it’s much the same as Manchester United vs. Manchester City. The city is divided into two: Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid. The city experiences the same excitement and the same anticipation on match days, and it reminds me a lot of Manchester’s love for football.
- The LGBT community: it makes my heart burst with pride to walk around Manchester and see such support for the LGBT community. It’s common to see stickers/posters and other such materials popped around the city in support of the community, and Manchester is home to one of Britain’s largest ‘Gay Villages’ – Canal Street. I love nights out on Canal Street, and similarly Madrid has Chueca, their equivalent ‘Gay Community.’ The metro station is my favourite thing, clad in all colours of the rainbow. Nights out there seem to rival that of Canal Street, and Madrid’s support and acceptance of the LGBT community is both similar to that of Manchester’s, and also heart-warming.
- The student atmosphere: Manchester is home to six universities, plus more subject-specific college centres, and so the city is absolutely full of students. Being an undergraduate student at the University of Manchester, I can fully comply with the thousands of articles that brand Manchester as the best UK student city, the atmosphere is incredible, and also very comfortable for young people moving away from home for study. Madrid is home to at least 15 universities, some of them international, public, private: there is such a huge range. Like Manchester, the city is full of students, and gives off the same exciting, comfortable feel for both home and international students. There’s nothing quite like it.
- Shopping: one thing I adore about Manchester? The shopping. The Trafford Centre is my saviour – it has everything I need, in one place. It even has cocktail bars, and a place to eat sushi. Literally, what more could I ask for? Aside from The Trafford Centre, Manchester city centre is unreal too: the Arndale has a Topshop superstore, and besides that, there is a huge, 5-floor Selfridges too. You couldn’t want for anything in Manchester, because everything you’ll need is there! Madrid is much the same, from Fuencarral and Gran Vía to The Style Outlets and Plaza Norte in northern Madrid, you really cannot ask for much more. Madrid is home to one of the biggest Primark superstores in Europe, and on the opposite end of the scale, you can find boutiques with handmade clothes tucked away in the streets of Tribunal. Like I said, everything you could need.
- Food: Manchester is home to some of the most amazing food places: from Almost Famous to Home Sweet Home, from Rosso to Panama Hatty’s, whatever type of cuisine you’re looking for, Manchester has something for everyone! Madrid is much the same, as previously mentioned, Lavapiés is home to some amazing Indian restaurants, amongst other amazing cuisines. If it’s traditional, authentic Spanish tapas you’re after: visit Tribunal. And if you’re looking for a tasty brunch on a Sunday morning, Federal has eggs benedict that is worthy of rivalling that of Manchester’s Moose Coffee. You won’t be disappointed!
Disclaimer: all images, if not my own, are taken from weheartit.