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Manchester: No bloody clue what to do. And a sidetrip to York.

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Booked flight for next to nothing (€50/40 GBP incl. taxes and fees is not that bad for a return flight Wed-Sun in high season), got an impressive hotel for four nights (The Britannia, and you may later understand why I HAD to book it) and DO have more than one clue what to do.

But I'd love to get some help sorting out my wishlist of places to see and visit.
These days in and around Manchester should, and hopefully will be devoted to railways, landmarks of the age of industrialisation, architecture (not necessarily only Victorian, though), and - if there is time - a house or garden.

I will land at MAN in the evening around 6, so day 1 will probably just be a pub meal, a short walk around, and maybe another pub.

For the following days I have identified as potential points of interest:

1. Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). I am pretty confident that it is a must-see. Will be somewhat resistant to opposing views.
2. People's History Museum. Never seen a museum with a thematic approach like that, so I am curious. Unless you say it's nonsense.
3. John Rylands Library. After browsing the website, I am still not 100pct sure how "open" it is to the nosy non-academic public. Would anyone know?
4. Town Hall. Another question: To see more of it than just the hall, am I right to assume that one has to join one of the official tours or walks? And, is it "worth" it?
5. Manchester Cathedral. Looks grand, it's there. So why not.
6. And, in general, just roaming around through the city centre.

One day, and it will probably be the Friday, will be devoted to a pilgrimage to York to visit the National Railway Museum.

So, after you probably got bored to death already, I would like to inquire about the following:
1. Are there any (insert the "q" word) villages or small towns or stately houses and gardens around Manchester which would make a nice 1/2 day trip. Accessibility with public transport would be a must, though I would have no problems with walking 1 or 2 miles from the next station.
What I have found on the web is Hall i' th' Wood. That type of timber architecture or similar would be interesting to see.
2. Which part of Manchester would you recommend to find nice pubs. Not so much high-end gastro pubs, but more regular places which also serve regular food.. pies and such.
3. Feel free to mention anything that you find missing on my "must see list". I must just add that I am not a major football aficionado...

Many thanks for any kind of feedback.

P.S. And I had to choose the Britannia Hotel as it had been featured on the BBC series "Great British Railway Journeys". A fabulous concept of re-visiting railway lines that played a crucial part for making towns thrive or fall. Also quite interesting for people who think that railways is just trains going places.

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