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Manchester Hunting For Vinyl

Manchester is one of the most highly industrialised cities in the United Kingdom, but also one of the most culturally alive. Particularly in terms of music – this is the cradle of punk, and of the groups that were spawned thereafter, notably Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Stone Roses and Oasis, young bands eager to forge a better future, far removed from the industrial assembly lines. The fact is that this musical tradition also generated an extensive network of record shops, scattered across the city centre, stores which are still very much alive and kicking.

The good thing about Manchester is that, being a comparatively small city, roughly the size of Barcelona, it doesn’t take long to get from one end of it to the other. So, if you’re thinking of going there, while you’re visiting the stores we recommend in search of that record you are missing from a collection, or simply just browsing and getting your fingers grubby, you will also have time to wander through the area where the legendary disco, The Haçienda, was located, as well as the Museum – of Science and Industry, of course. So, let’s get started with those five temples of vinyl:

Empire Exchange

Rather than a store, this is more of a basement warehouse where you can wander about and breathe in dust, in search of that record by The Beatles or The Rolling Stones you need to round off your collection. Empire Exchange is acclaimed for having one of the most comprehensive selections of seven singles in England. Indeed, they stock records released from 1930 onwards. This temple of rare vinyls is located in the city centre, specifically, on Newton Street.

Piccadilly Records

Situated in the heart of Manchester, on such a venerable precinct as Oldham Street, you will feel like just another Mancunian when you stroll along it. Piccadilly Records specialises in rare albums which are hard to come by, but also in new releases of independent pop and rock and reissues of classics. Incidentally, the store is very near Piccadilly Gardens, one of the city’s loveliest green areas. It is ideally placed for visiting afterwards and having an impromptu picnic.

Clampdown Records

A small but charming shop which packs a punch, and its vintage appearance endows it with a special status. Here you will find an exquisite selection of used vinyls (especially punk and new wave) and, if you’re game for getting your fingers dirty, you can pick up some gems at a great price. Clampdown Records is on Paton Street, next door to Manchester’s old town. The area has a generous sprinkling of restaurants where you can grab a weekend brunch.

Vinyl Resting Place

Like Clampdown Records, this is also a small store which has maximised available space to a tee. It is on the third floor of Afflecks Palace, right in the centre of Manchester and near both Piccadilly Records and Empire Exchange. So, all you need is a good pair of trainers with air pockets to wander about and fit in. Vinyl Resting Place stocks a good collection of used vinyls, which range from reasonably-priced records to rare releases which will cost you an arm and a leg if you bite the bait. You’ve been warned!

Soundwaves Here We Come

This is the ideal spot for winding up your tour, as the store is also located in Afflecks Palace, just one floor down from Vinyl Resting Place – you just have to slide down the stairs to get there. The list of used vinyls at Soundwaves Here We Come encompasses virtually all styles. What’s more, if you’re lucky, you may catch some group playing live, as the store owners organise regular concerts to promote the city’s upcoming bands. Who knows – you may even be fortunate enough to cross paths withThe Stone Roses!

Put on your walking shoes and experience the magic of record hunting – check out our flights here.

Text by Xavi Sánchez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Marc Wathleu

 

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The City that Never Stopped Pulsating

The people of Manchester always have to settle for second prize. Perhaps it is a bitter victory to come behind rivals, first-placed London, the economic, social and cultural epicentre of old Britain, but Manchester is still plugging away. They have always had a better football team than any in the capital and, as far as music is concerned, they have sometimes hit Londoners where it hurts most.

When it comes to Manchester’s nightlife, what comes to mind willy-nilly is stories and pictures associated with The Haçienda, that hotbed of endless creativity that set the trends in club music throughout the United Kingdom for over a decade. It is now eighteen years since it was converted into an apartment block. However, its demise did not in any way herald a decline in Mancunian nightlife. Club culture has long enjoyed good health in that city and this, added to the fact that music spots have always been plentiful in Manchester, makes it one of the hotspots in Europe.

The city boasts countless centres of night leisure. One of the most vibrant of them, which is currently on an upsurge, is the Northern Quarter, located in Manchester’s historic centre, dating from medieval times. The Council aims to give the neighbourhood a new lease of life, offering low rentals to attract young entrepreneurs. Located here is one of the best house and techno clubs, Sankeys (Radium St. M4 6AY). It is worth visiting for the quality of their sound and, incidentally, their equipment was designed by the likes of NASA. A good way to start the evening in this district is to have a pint at Odd Bar (30-32 Thomas Street), a sort of pub which won the best city bar award and which has a quality DJ programme. For live music, a great choice is Moho Live (Tib St., M1 1SH). There you can find anything from upcoming bands to Soundsystems by seminal electronic artists like Nightmares on Wax.

Another not-to-be-missed club in the Oxford Road university area is Joshua Brooks (106 Princess St. M1 6NG), located on the corner of Charles Street and Princess St. Aside from being a bar, at night it doubles as a disco, where the music ranges from indie to dance and dubstep. For addicts of black sounds, the city’s temple is called Funkademia Sited in Mint Lounge (46-50 Oldham Street), their motto is “wear what you like, but dress well”. Saturdays evenings are the most crowded and feature sessions of the best northern soul, groove, old-school hip hop and disco music.

The Event

For some years now, one of Britain’s paramount electronic music events has been held in  Manchester. This is The Warehouse Project, a serie of events that gets under way at the end of September and takes places every weekend until the beginning of January. Under the watchword, “For Twelve Weeks This City Is Ours”, the event’s organisers have drawn up a programme featuring a pithy lineup, designed to cure your hiccups. This year will see the likes of Jamie XX, Luciano, Clark, Siriusmodeselektor, Leftfield, Adrian Sherwood, John Talabot, Andrew Weatherall, Goldie, Carl Craig, Four Tet... The venues differ from one year to the next. According to the festival’s policy, the location should be outlandish every time. Until 2007, this was sited at their current operations centre. It lies in the underbelly of Piccadilly Station(Store St. M1 2GH), an unsettling place on account of the presence of catacombs. Each club night has its own theme. This year we recommend the weekend devoted to New Order, on 5 and 6 December, with a stunning lineup featuring such names as New Order themselves (they will be performing both days), A Certain Ratio, Erol Alkan, Horse Meat Disco and Factory Floor, among others.

As you can see, the intense Manchester scene continues apace. Come and feel the vibe – check our flights here.

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Images by Tom Jerkins photographic, Odd Bar, Duncan Hull, The Warehouse Project, Funkademia

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The best libraries in Europe

They might be places you never thought of visiting, but the best libraries in large European cities actually have a lot to offer. Some of them have witnessed important historic events and others are famous for their contemporary architecture. So let's keep our voices down and discover the best libraries in Europe.

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London Spanish Taste

World cuisines converge on London and Spain’s contribution is no exception. The story goes back a long way, to when a handful of immigrant chefs turned up with the intention of staying. That was just the beginning. Nowadays, Spanish cuisine is well established there. In great establishments and in the guise of some great names. Iberian presa and paleta, chorizo and pollo al chilindrón no longer require translation. Similarly, no introduction is required for such names as Juan Mari Arzak, Nacho Manzano, Eneko Atxa or Dabiz Muñoz. Not even Albert Adrià or the Roca brothers, even though their ventures in London have thus far proved fleeting – the former, in the Café Royal and the latter, on the first stop of their forthcoming tour. The present offers bites worthy of nostalgia-free refuge, while the future promises to be equally appetising.

Starred. Ametsa, managed by Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, is the first Spanish restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star in London, and just a few months after opening at that. They offer creative cuisine of Basque origin, in the form of a tapa with tea at four o’clock, as well as lunch for just a few pounds featuring a tasting menu with an immaculate parade of dishes. Their wine list shows special sensibilities for wines with soul and Spanish varieties.

With a “barra” (bar counter). Between Nieves Barragán’s different Barrafina – where there’s always a queue to try their regional Spanish tapas – and Donostia, with their pintxos and other nods to the finest Basque cuisine, you will be hard put to choose where to nibble on tasties at a reasonable price. However, if your thing is grills, go for Lurra.

With a history. Boasting four venues in London, and others still to come, Nacho Manzano’s Ibérica restaurants showcase the pull and the consistency of traditional Spanish cooking. Produce with designation of origin, generous helpings and an all-enveloping interior design are key to the success of a label which reaches as far afield as Manchester and Leeds.

Venerable. Boasting a team of chefs trained by the great names in Spanish haute cuisine, Alquimia is a must-visit restaurant for tasting fine rice in London. All of them, including the paellas, are served in portions for two, and there is also an assortment of other dishes on the menu.

Classy. There are very few places where cocktail culture carries as much weight as in London. Hence, Javier de las Muelas and his signature cocktails just had to set up in that city. Dry Martini London, at the Meliá White House - London, boasts an admirable nursery of mixologists who even create themed cocktails in the adjoining experimental kitchen.

In addition to these proposals, keep a look out for the long-awaited opening of the London StreetXo, while the restaurant Eneko Atxa is due to unveil in the One Aldwych Hotel in Convent Garden.

Overnights:
The Halkin By COMO. This hotel is synonymous with authenticity and distinction. Surrounded by embassies, with a siting as tranquil as it is near to the shopping bustle around Harrod’s, this hotel has spacious, sought-after rooms. Their luxury amenities and à la carte breakfast are also among their fortes.

IGH London Park Lane. If you want to sleep like a king, what better than to lodge in this former royal residence a stone’s throw away from Hyde Park? Their bar, restaurant and rooms have enviable views and noteworthy floral arrangements.

Meliã White House. Close to Soho and to major tourist attractions, the architecture of this hotel is an inducement on its own. The renovated rooms and the access to The Level Floor will enliven your stay all the more.

 

Text by Belén Parra of Gastronomistas

Images courtesy of the establishments

 

 

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