"2008-11-22 - 2nd Annual Christmas Markets VT Meet" Manchester Travelogue by Kaspian

Manchester Travel Guide: 1,773 reviews and 4,175 photos

Plan for the day: Meet up with VT friends, buy some unique British gifts for family back in Canada, go out and get drunk with VT friends. ...Two out of three ain't bad!

Clockwise from bottom: Sheila, ricky52, Gillybob, suvanki, bluebell001, doodybee, Gwynfiguy, Mustertal, Ryan, poons.

At 11:00 AM on Saturday, November 22nd 2008, a group of VTers met at a Starbucks. The plan is to spend the day exploring and shopping in the Manchester Christmas Markets (which I found out most of the locals refer to as "The German Markets"). So Gillybob, our hostess and leader, arrives, gives us the mandatory VT loot bag--full of little gifts and stickers, and instructs us on all the different meeting points and times throughout the day. Sadly, I'm so excited to be in another country, some type of attention deficit disorder takes hold, and I can't concentrate or remember a word she said. "Uh-oh," I think to myself, "I'd better just try and follow other people the whole day or I'll be hopelessly lost."

After a quick bite to eat (an amazing hot, shredded pork sandwich loaded with applesauce), we hit the mulled wine. "Mulled wine", if you've never had it, is a wine mixed with fruit, honey, and spices that's served piping hot. Now one would think the alcohol would just evaporate off, right? No way. This drink is so loaded with booze, the first sip blew my head off.

I should have known this VT Meet, like others, would degenerate quickly into drinking. For about 4 pounds, you get a cup of the hot wine--and you can use this cup to get refills of more hot wine from other stalls at a lower price. (The cup has a deposit and you can return it anywhere to get 2 pounds back.) Oh--and not only is there hot wine, but hot cider and a hot chocolate spiked with rum.

By noon, I'm staggering around, completely disinterested in my original plan of shopping for unique Christmas gifts for my family back home, and even forgetting to take any photographs. Ersh....

Gotta love the part at every VT Meet where people start taking pictures of other members who are taking pictures of members!

Pictured here is sweet poons, who I know from meets in London, Marbella, Karlsruhe, and probably other places I can't remember. There comes a point at meets where you just sort of lose track of how often you've seen someone in person and instead you're just happy to spend some time with that friend. She's a doll--always greets everyone with a big smile.

To her right is davesut, who oddly enough, reminded me of a more put together, cleaner, and slightly shorter version of myself. Which is a sort of odd feeling. But hell, I think I'd get along with myself famously--we'd just go out for beer all the time. Anyway, I digress. When I needed to buy a Manchester United soccer scarf for a friend back home, davesut was a damn prince among men and walked me to the soccer team's souvenir store. ...And warned me sternly to never, ever again to put my wallet on a shop's counter in Manchester--even for a second.

Every seasoned VTer knows the guy on the right in this photo. His name is "Null". Kidding--It's Pickledonions! I can't add a link to his homepage here because he got all rowdy or something on VT a few years ago and he either quit the site or they gave him the boot. Either way, he's still a member in most peoples' eyes because he has his ways of keeping in touch with members and dropping in on things regularly.

Glad I got a chance to meet him, because although we met briefly in Toronto two years before, it was just a quick nod. This time we actually got to chat and compare travel stories. Great guy!

Dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe

Left to right: davesut, Gillybob, Britannia2, suvanki, Pickledonions.

It's a bit of shame to have a get together with a group of out-of-towners and have to eat at a Hard Rock Cafe, but nobody else would take us. And believe me, Gillybob tried to find something else. Alas, hunger, thirst, desperation , and the cold (for some, not me personally) eventually took their hold and we had to go with what was available.

You know, it wasn't bad after all. We were so consumed with chatting amongst ourselves and ordering drinks I think we hardly noticed what we were eating. Mmm.... It was a hamburger for me. A big juicy hamburger!

Some Pints At The Millstone Pub

Personally, this is always my favourite part of a VT meet--at the end of the night when it's been narrowed down to just a few stragglers sitting in the corner of some small pub or restaurant chatting away the hours. It's when you really get a chance to get to know people one-on-one and I always wish time would stop dead. Being frozen forever in these types of magical moments would be a blessing. But no, time seems to speed up, last call inevitably comes, and the pub kicks us out into the cold wilds. "The absolute end," of a VT meet and having to go our separate ways is never much.

  • Page Updated Oct 22, 2009
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