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When you tell someone you are going to spend the weekend in Manchester, their reaction is usually, “Fun! What are you doing there?” When you respond that you’re going to hang out with a bunch of your ex’s closest childhood friends, their reaction is usually some serious side-eye.

But lets back up a bit to how and why I got to the UK in the first place. Icelandair, one of the greatest airlines of all times, allows free stopovers in Iceland on all round trip flights to Europe from the US. So when my mom and sister booked their tickets to Iceland, I booked mine round trip to London with a stopover in Iceland — for a mere $200 more. Two hundred bucks for a flight to the UK to visit three of my best Thailand friends, all in London for the summer? Yes please!

So anyway, that’s how I ended up going to London. And when I announced this trip across the interwebs, some of the lovely friends that I spent last summer with in Scotland got in and asked if wanted to meet them halfway, in Manchester, for a weekend of fun and catching up. With affordable flights, good public transportation, and even , cost wasn’t an issue. My first reaction was an enthusiastic yes!, followed by a hmmm I wonder if people will think I’m weird for this one.

Cause, you know, like I mentioned, these girls are part of a wonderful group of people that happen to be lifelong friends of my recent ex-boyfriend (a phrase that I am using for the first time, five months in… weird). But I gave myself a little pep talk and told myself not to care about other people’s opinions for once (ha!).

Because stronger than any sort of anxiety over doing something socially unacceptable was a desire to hang out with these girls! I fell in love with Scotland in large part because of the wonderful people that I had been hearing about for two years and finally got to attend weddings with, sing karaoke with, go on holiday with, go clubbing in Glasgow with, and just simply get to know. And thanks to the beauty of technology, those new friendships lasted long after my then-boyfriend and I set off for Thailand.

Today, I just feel so lucky that I have this huge group of friends across the pond that I really adore, and that I now know didn’t just see me as “so and so’s girlfriend”– they really took the time to get to know me and maintain real friendships with me and reached out to me throughout the breakup and now even after all the ugliness we can all have big slumber parties and make fun of each others’ accents like its no big deal. There is so much lost in a breakup like the one I just went through, in a messy separation with a live-in partner of a three years. I’m just so grateful, so grateful that I didn’t have to lose these friendships too.

SO ANYWAY. That got a little deep there for a Friday guys, sorry! Back to the point. Well this post has no point. About exactly a year ago I spent a weekend in the same apartment building in Manchester, being hosted by lovely Victoria. And once again, I barely left the building except to go out partying at night. But in my defense, its kind of hard to tear yourself away when there is a pool like this on the roof!

And just like the year before, we went crazy taking underwater photos with my and . I rarely use the setup in pools, and I always forget how fun the resulting images are!

As I mentioned, we did leave the building twice in those forty eight hours. Once, to go to the Brazilian restaurant shown if the first two photos of this post, and the second time to go dancing at a club Victoria’s boyfriend was DJing at. Fun was had by all.

So once again I missed Manchester’s museums and galleries and other sights. Call me a bad traveler, because I couldn’t care less. Sometimes, you’ve just got to catch up with old friends.

Thank you girls for everything.

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  • How much fun!!!! I’m totally obsessed with underwater photography. Love these shots!

    • Meihoukai
      September 22 2012

      Thanks Andi! It’s definitely fun to shoot in a pool where you don’t have to worry about visibility and all that.

  • Sarah Somewhere
    September 21 2012

    Hey Meihoukai, I think we could all let go more of what other people think of us! And looks like you had a hell of a time when you did! looks like a great gals weekend, love the cute pool shots, especially the one of you- gorgeous!

    • Meihoukai
      September 22 2012

      That shot is courtesy of Victoria — I love hanging out with other snap happy people!

  • Elaine Burr - Gram E
    September 21 2012

    I’ve had the “going back” experience several times. Grand Rapids,Mich, Chicago, Lake City, Fl, However, You’ve heard the expression – All my friends are dead or married – believe me – it happens. In my case – most are dead, but I have new ones now – and I enjoy them. Gram E

    • Meihoukai
      September 22 2012

      Always good to have friends from all walks of life!

  • Shing @ The Culture Map
    September 22 2012

    Manchester is only a 40minute drive away from where I live! You were definitely right to dedicate your time solely to friends – the museums will always be there but the chances of having all your friends in one city may not come again.

    Saying that, when you’re next over the pond, you must visit Liverpool, not far from Manchester but it has a completely different vibe, and the best art galleries outside of London. And you must visit the Yorkshire Dales – home to perhaps England most scenic drives and backdrops.

    • Meihoukai
      September 22 2012

      I love checking out local arts scenes… I’ll have to put Liverpool on the list for next time! Thanks for the recommendation! 🙂

  • Kirsty
    September 23 2012

    Aw I loved reading this post, made me smile =D (and mind kind if miss my fringe lol!)
    I had such a good and very lazy weekend! Hope we can all get together again sometime in the bear future!
    Loving reading your blog as always =D xx

    • Meihoukai
      September 23 2012

      Aw, thanks Kirsty! I loved your fringe, by the way 🙂

  • remy @ cool travel blogs
    September 26 2012

    Refreshing post from a traveler. Sometimes it’s not about the traveling but simply meeting up with good friends!

    • Meihoukai
      September 27 2012

      I love to think of my posts as refreshing! What a compliment 🙂

  • Stephen Jones
    March 8 2013

    Hi Meihoukai! Just recently started reading your blog. Great choice on visiting Manchester! Ok, I’m a little biased. I lived there for four years. Miss it like crazy. Can’t wait to get back there again!

    Happy travels!

    • Meihoukai
      March 8 2013

      Hi Stephen, glad you found me! I really enjoyed Manchester… I’ve been twice! Great little city 🙂

  • Chanel | Cultural Xplorer
    January 26 2015

    So I came here looking for something to do during (quite a long) layover in Manchester, and I totally was not expecting underwater photography – however now that is all I want to do in Manchester! 😀

    • Meihoukai
      January 28 2015

      Haha, a swimming pool would be a great place to spend a long layover 🙂

  • Lee
    July 4 2017

    A post on my hometown of Manchester is always a good read 🙂 Thanks!!

    • Meihoukai
      July 5 2017

      I always love reading about my area on blogs too — fun to see other’s takes on it!