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As a bilingual Geography course we have to do an extra period per week. So what to do with this extra period? Geography is best studied on a field trip, we thought, so we decided to go on a four day excursion to Manchester from Sept. 29, 2017 - Oct.3, 2017. We chose this city because firstly, it is located in an English speaking country, and secondly, the city itself is very interesting because of its structural change in recent history.

Manchester played a major role in the Industrial Revolution because of its location close to many rivers and streams and the nearby port of Liverpool. Its main products were silk and cotton. The Bridgewater Canal (1761) and the Manchester Ship Canal (1893), both still in use today, were built, which ensured quicker and better transport of commodities like coal. In due course, Manchester became the third biggest port in Britain, even though it’s located 64 km away from the sea. However, the worldwide economic crisis in the 1930s hit the city and forced the textile industry to decrease until it was nearly meaningless.
As many buildings were destroyed in the Second World War, nowadays Manchester is mainly characterised by the architecture of the post war decades. Today, Manchester has regained its status as one of the economically most important regions in Great Britain following London and Birmingham.
The textile and heavy industry however has nearly no importance anymore, as most people are employed in the service sector. (Marie Konermann & Gemmel)

On Sunday morning we set out for a 'Walking Tour' of Manchester. In about one and a half hours our guide showed us around the city centre. In Manchester you can experience beautiful old buildings, post-war and modern architecture practically side by side. The Manchester Town Hall for example was built in the late 17th century. As it looks similar to the Palace of Westminster, quite a few television shows and movies were filmed there (for example the Sherlock Holmes films from 2008 and the BBC series "State of Play" from 2003). However, because the building is so old, it will be closed in a few months for a restoration period of six years.

We also visited the Royal Exchange Theatre, which is located in a large hall where the merchants of Manchester used to trade cotton. A board on the wall still indicates the original cotton prices from the last day before the trading hall closed. Apart from its location, the theatre itself is also quite unique. It has a round stage with seats all around it, so no backstage area, only some changing rooms just outside of the theatre. The audience is able to see practically everything. Sadly, in our short period of time in the city, we weren't able to catch a play there. When walking around Manchester it is hard not to notice the bees. They are everywhere, on tiles, in shop windows, on rubbish bins. Not real bees of course, but drawings of bees, more specifically, worker bees. Our guide explained that the bee became a symbol of Manchester during the Industrial Revolution when the city started its cotton industry. The textile mills were often referred to as “hives of activity”, so the workers were compared to bees. Today, the bee is still wide-spread and a symbol of unity for the people of Manchester. In the afternoon we went to the Museum of Science and Industry, only a few minutes' walk from our hostel. It has many permanent galleries showcasing innovations made in Manchester and the industrial history of the city among other things. In the Textiles Gallery, for example, the process which cotton went through in the 19th century in Manchester, from spinning, through weaving, to finishing the design is shown. (Sandra Merath) 

On our second day we went to Salford Quays. This is a district of Salford and a part of Greater Manchester, located to the west of the City of Manchester, near the end of the Manchester Ship Canal. It was the former site of the Manchester Docks, which were part of the Port of Manchester from 1894 until their closure in 1982. Cheap foreign textiles and the introduction of huge container ships, being too big for the canal, caused the dockyards to be closed and as a result the area fell into a state of dilapidation. In 1983, the district was rebranded as “Salford Quays” and a redevelopment project, the “Salford Quays Development Plan”, was established, containing the plan of transforming the area with the derelict dockyards into an area for commercial, residential and leisure use.

The first step was the cleaning of the polluted water of the Manchester Ship Canal. Afterwards, the whole infrastructure of the area was recreated, causing the construction of modern bridges, new roads, a promenade along the waterfront and an internal waterway network. The whole area became a world class media-hub with luxury buildings with apartments and landmark arts venues. Salford Quays is now the home of the theatre and gallery complex “The Lowry”, as well as of the “Imperial War Museum North”. Both are unusually looking but complex buildings in terms of architecture. Furthermore, there is the “Lowry Outlet” shopping mall, offering everything from shops, restaurants, and a gym to a cinema. “Old Trafford", the home ground of the football team “Manchester United” is located next to Salford Quays as well. However, the main part of this area is MediaCityUK, an 81ha big property used by media organisations, namely the BBC and ITV. There, both companies have placed a lot of studios for a large amount of different TV shows, news, etc. Moreover, they have a radio station there and a lots of offices.This underlines the fact that Manchester is Europe’s second largest creative and media cluster and especially in Salford Quays we can find the biggest concentration of such media companies. Salford Quays is a prime example of how the structure of a city can develop over the years and change completely. (Nikita Kustevalov)

After visiting the Imperial War Museum and the BBC studios in the morning we still had plenty of time before eating dinner. The class had two possibilities now, either visiting the Manchester United Stadium with its museum or go to the alternative, "Bohemian" quarter in Manchester called the Northern Quarter.
The group decided to split up. Four students went to the Northern Quarter with Mr Behnke and the rest of the class went to the stadium. The stadium was great. Old Trafford is a very unique and well-known stadium in the world of football. The stadium tour was 90 minutes long. You could go into the locker rooms and see the pitch from the coaching benches.

A visit of the museum after the tour showed us how great the history of Manchester United has been and enticed some of us to buy some over-priced souvenirs. Meanwhile, the small group of students who went with Mr Behnke explored the “hip” part of Manchester: beautiful murals on the walls of different buildings, lots of second hand shops, music shops and old school gaming shops. It was a great experience to see this aspect of Mancunian culture. And that was it. In the evening we had our farewell dinner in a Tapas restaurant and had to say goodbye to the city. Our four days in Manchester went by really quickly but we saw and experienced a lot and we all think the trip was definitely worth it. (Dorian Danielski)

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