Manchester Jewish Museum and a Couple of Places to Stay

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The Manchester Jewish Museum is housed in the Victorian era former Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, which is the oldest surviving synagogue building in Manchester. It has beautiful stained glass windows, and elaborate fittings. The bimah is large, and and the upper galleries are equally impressive.

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Jewish Museum

The collections of the museum give a really good portrait of the life of the Jewish immigrants and traders that made Manchester their home.  There are also several Torah scrolls housed here from The Memorial Scrolls Trust.

 

There are exhibits that relate to the Holocaust, and to the resettlement of Jewish refugees from that sad era.

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Anne Frank Rose

This is an interesting and moving place to visit.

I stayed at the Townhouse Hotel for three nights while attending a conference. I found it clean, comfortable and very professional. The staff were welcoming, and helpful. The breakfast servers were particularly so. The room was of a good size and the decoration tasteful, but maybe a bit dated. The bed was very soft, but a bit high. The quality of sleep was very good. The shower had good pressure and plenty of hot water. The laptop safe provided was easy to use. The breakfast was good, with buffet continental items and hot items cooked to order. It was a very pleasant place to stay.

 

Another conference related stay was at the Crowne Plaza Manchester City Centre. This is a good business hotel, and very convenient to the conference centre and the city centre. The room was comfortable, and the staff attentive.  The Glasshouse, as far as hotel restaurants go, was otherwise average. The general atmosphere was pleasant, but had that “business” feeling with the tables a bit too close together. The vegetarian selections were rather constrained, and the risotto was overly runny, and for the price not a great value. I was really not impressed with it as a place for an evening meal, so only ate dinner there once. To be fair to the establishment and the Crowne Plaza more generally, the breakfast buffet for the three mornings I was there was abundant and well prepared, though once again the “veggy” offerings were limited.

Padre

Museum Link

 

Manchester, Meetings, and More

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I have to say that I have never visited Manchester purely as a tourist destination. I have had several meetings in the city, however, and seen some of the sights.

As meetings and conferences are the main reason for my going to the city, I will initially focus on venues. The first of these is Manchester Central. This is a spacious conference centre with a comfortable, and well arranged main hall, and several fit for purpose breakout rooms. The staff were efficient and helpful, and the catering was above average for such venues. The sound systems were good, and ease of access was superb.

On a smaller scale, the meeting rooms at the Hilton Manchester Airport were also really good. Parking was a little tight, but the hotel’s facilities were first rate. The meeting rooms were clean and good repair, lighting was good, and access was very good.  Catering while buffet style was tasty and sufficient in quality and quantity.  Tea and coffee facilities were multiple and easy to find and use, and snacks were readily available including “healthy” options such as fruit.

I was able to get out and about a little during the various conferences, and found a few really worthwhile things to do.  One of these was Manchester’s China Town. While relatively small, it does provide an ornamental gate, a Chinese pavilion, and a wide assortment of Asian eateries (Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and others).

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As I am a sushi fan, I checked out Wasabi on Faulkner Street. It was busy, and seems very popular. The belt system, and decoration were very much in keeping with other sushi bars. Don’t take that to mean it is just another sushi factory, however. The dishes on the belt were fresh, and regularly restocked making for a very good selection. The portion sizes were good, and the presentation very good. The set meal offers are good value for money, and the overall atmosphere and quality much like my experiences in Japan, and a step above many sushi chain restaurants.

Wasabi

For those not so fussed about East Asian cuisine there is Efes on Princess Street. The taverna is set up fairly nicely with a bar area near the entrance and a buffet beyond a live music stage. The background music was Turkish, and the decoration while not overly abundant still remains on theme. The assortment of dishes was good, with Turkish and other Mediterranean fare as well as some British classics (chips). The salad and vegetarian selection was good, and the food tasty. Service was friendly on entering, but once served I was left to “get on with it” in regards to the buffet. This did require me, therefore, to flag down a server for a second drink. All in all, it was a good value for money meal, in adequate surroundings, and filling, well prepared food.

Efes

Those who have followed me in the past know that I am also partial to Hard Rock Cafes. The Manchester hard Rock is by far the best service I have had from the chain.
When I arrived, I was told there would be a short wait for a table. I was told 10 to 15 minutes, and given a pager device. After 8 minutes, I was called and shown to my table.
The server was attentive, friendly, and super hard working. I don’t usually focus on the cleaning habits of servers, but she not only was wonderful as a server, but took no short cuts bussing and cleaning other tables. It gives me a secure feeling knowing such attention was paid to hygiene. That said, she served me quickly, asked questions about previous Hard Rock visits, and was genuinely friendly. The Norwegian salmon meal was well cooked, with a very large portion of broccoli and a tasty drizzle sauce. The mash was also very nice with a creamy consistency and well seasoned. The atmosphere was Hard Rock, no complaints there. All in all, one of, if not my best, Hard Rock experiences.

In my next travel post I will look at accommodation and additional attractions in and around Manchester.

Padre

Remembering the Little Ones

I have written on several previous occasions about the loss of a child, and the trauma and mourning it brings.  Ariana Grande’s tribute concert will be in Manchester this evening to remember the terrible atrocity there on the 22nd of May.  Such a tribute is right and good.  It is a positive reaction to aid grieving families (emotionally and financially) and for the survivors to have an opportunity to begin overcome their fears.

Such ephemeral tributes as concerts have an impact.  But their are other longer term, emotionally enduring tributes to lost children as well.  I have visited several of these over time, and have found two of the most evocative to be the children’s memorials at the Vught Concentration Camp in The Netherlands, and at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

The eight simple columns of the Vught memorial topped with Stars of David in itself is of affect as most Holocaust tributes do.  It is the names of the children, and their ages sometimes recorded in days or months rather than years that is the most unsettling.  Add to this the sculpted toys and left tributes that make it truly emotional.

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Yad Vashem’s memorial is even more emotive. From the sun-drenched white and cream of the surrounding stone, one enters into a dark tunnel.  Here you are confronted with emotional vocal music which is a strange mix of the sublime (snippets of heaven) and of lament (truly a feeling of loss).  As you pass photos of “lost children” you see a sea of pin point lights (representing the lost).  These are produced by only a handful of candles, but the refraction of multiple mirrors gives a cosmic field of light against the all pervading darkness.  When at the centre of the monument the names, nationalities and ages of children are solemnly recited on a seemingly endless recording.  One then returns to the dazzling brightness of the Jerusalem sun.

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The power of such memorials is intense.  Hopefully the effect will be equally memorable with Ms Grande’s tribute tonight. Some may balk at my linking of the Manchester attack and the Holocaust.  To this I can but paraphrase Yehuda Bauer, that we cannot compare people’s suffering or loss.  The pain is uniquely their own.  In the end, all attempts of memorisation pale to the loss of such innocents.  May God be with their friends and families, and grant them peace.

Padre