As it turns out, my second trip of 2019 was also for ice hockey – Manchester this time. Junior’s team had a Friday night game last week against Manchester Universities in Altrincham, close to the airport.
It is a long way to travel just for a game which will take 90 minutes, so I was unsure what to do. In the end, I went for it. The ease of getting there was a decisive factor.
To drive would have taken 4 hours. It is 266 miles (425 km) and motorway all the way – one tank of diesel, so a cost of about £55. However, I hate the motorways around there – busy and often congested.
I opted to fly south, and take the train back. It was more expensive, but much more pleasant and relaxing for me. FlyBe has a service from Edinburgh to Manchester, so I got a good one-way “hand luggage only” deal at £52 on their 10am flight. It was on time, and totally hassle free.
My journey home was on Trans Pennine Express. They have a service between Manchester Airport and Edinburgh. My train – the 10:10 on a Saturday – only stopped at 3 stations on the way, so it took 3 hours 15 minutes.
My ticket in 1st class cost £51 using my senior railcard. It was another good choice – fast, comfortable and on time.
I stayed in the Radisson Blu at the airport. There were cheaper options, but I have always enjoyed the Radisson Blu brand going back to when they were SAS hotels in the 90s. Location was a factor again, as it is 100 metres from the airport railway station.
I enjoyed it. The room was big and comfortable. I skipped their overpriced breakfast and used the nearby Caffe Nero instead. Why pay £13 for coffee and croissants if you can get the same thing for £5 by walking 100 metres?
I did have their room service pizza while killing time until Junior’s 23:30 face off. It was excellent – I was surprised – but not good value for money at £15.20. The room was expensive at £154, but I expected to spend most of the evening in it and decided to go for comfort over price.
The ice arena in Altrincham – also home to the Elite League’s Manchester Storm – is just 15 minutes from the airport by taxi. That cost me £16 to go, using Arrow – the airport’s designated private hire company. It was £14 to return (at 1am) using a local Altrincham service.
The best bit? They won 6:3.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2019 🏴🇪🇺🏴