Imagine sitting in flight for 12hrs 55min with a stopover of about 4hours? That is how long a trip to London would take on Qatar Airways. The stopover at the Capital of Qatar Doha, was quite an exciting adventure just to take a brief comparison of another country’s airport (Hamad International Airport) with ours.
The flight was comfortable with meals on board being well balanced and dietary needs of every individual taken into account, even special diets as long as the specific request has been made 72 hours prior departure.
Our destination the United Kingdom, the immigration modalities at the Heathrow airport went smoothly with our documentation going through a thorough screening just to ensure we were there legally. Once that was done we headed for the arrivals where we met our bus driver.
Our final destination and home for the next 8 days, Manchester city… Did I say why I was going for Manchester? Well I was accompanying Makini sports academy for the 2016 super cup tournament, in total we were a group of 19 students and 7 adults. Traveling with that many children can be quite interesting (I need not say more).
Being my first time to the UK I marveled at the order and cleanliness of the roads and just the strictness of structure to just how things must be done. For example all buses are fitted with Alco blow self testing kits which are centrally monitored by each bus company. The driver had to self-test after every stopover, without a successful self-test the bus would not move! All long distance bus shuttles are fitted with toilets just to ensure, that call of nature is well taken care of.
5 hours later we arrived our destination safely at one of the Britannia Chain of Hotels in the outskirts of Manchester City. After a well deserved bath and rest it was dinner time, meals were well done despite of the fact that we missed out on our African delicacies like Ugali, Nduma, Githeri and African vegetables. We retired early in readiness for a tightly packed week.
Day 1, we had the opportunity to tour the famous Etihad stadium home to Manchester city, where we toured the state of art stadia with a seating capacity of 60,000.
Day 2, we visited the Old Trafford Home to Manchester United soccer club, all within the environs of Manchester City with a seating capacity 0f 75,635, we also toured Manchester city soccer Museum where the histories of the famous football legends are kept in their honor.
Day 3, the tournament begun with Kenya being represented by 2 groups namely Makini sports academy with 2 teams of under 10 and under 13, and School of Nations also with 2 teams under 10 and under 13. At the venue of the tournament: Manchester University grounds, there are numerous well maintained pitches. The venue can host up to 24 matches playing simultaneously! Soccer is really big in the UK.
Days 4th, 5th and 6th, the main tournament days. The fixtures were so tight, with every team playing at least 2 matches in a day and at times up to 3 matches for the tournament to end within the stipulated time frame. Our 2 junior teams under 10 and under 13 participating in the event made us proud by being among the finalists being crowned at the end of the 4 days soccer event. All in all, every team participant was a winner, all team members got awarded medals and the overall winners in each category were awarded with a trophy each.
It was a great tournament with young boys from all over the World interacting and learning from each other. We left Manchester on Monday August 1st we said goodbye to the Soccer City of Manchester back to London where we took our flight back home.
Tips to Learn
- In Manchester major shopping areas only operate from 8am to 5pm
- Road transport is well organized and all road users may it be on foot, cyclists or motor Vehicle all have equal rights.
- A lot of shopping in Manchester like in most developed countries is done online with options of delivery or collection.
- Time consciousness is a paramount tool to have in the UK, everything is by the clock!
- Early booking for Road, air and rail transport is way much cheaper if done and paid for way in advance.
- Summer is real in the UK where we have the sun setting at about 9pm and sun rise at about 4am meaning during summer we have longer days and shorter nights.
- Soccer in the UK started with a few people kicking the ball from one city to the other.