The Lebanese Fan's guide to watching Manchester United at Old TraffordYou’re finally heading to the Theatre of Dreams! Wohoo! Here’s all you need to know when planning your trip.
A) APPLYING FOR A UK VISA
You need to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa (Less than 6 months) and complete the online application form. They will ask a lot of detailed questions about your life, your finances etc. Answer honestly! The processing of the visa can take anywhere between 14 and 21 WORKING days (Meaning you only count Monday to Friday). You can apply 3 months before your intended travel date. Always apply for a multiple entry visa.
HOW TO APPLY:
To apply for a visit visa to the UK, you need to:
1) Fill in the application form and answer in English: https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/visa-type/
2) Pay for the visa fee: $120 for Standard Visitor Short-term (up to 6 months, single or multiple entry)
3) Print out your form
4) Book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre: https://uk.tlscontact.com/lb/bey/index.php
When you attend your appointment, you must bring:
• The original and a photocopy of all the supporting documents you need for your visa
• Certified translations of any supporting documents that are not in English
PAPERS NEEDED IN DETAIL:
1. Passport + photocopy of the first page (and second if you have renewed your passport) and all pages with visas on them.
2. Two passport pictures.Go to any passport photo place and tell them you want your photos for the UK Embassy, they will know what to do. Just in case, check this link for exact dimensions and instructions: https://www.gov.uk/photos-for-passports
3. Completed Application printed + Photocopy
4. If you are not Lebanese: Residency in Lebanon + Photocopy of it
5. If you’re in University: Letter from University that you are enrolled for the current/next semester which starts on the date _______ + Photocopy (If you are going during the semester it needs to include that you are granted leave of absence- meaning that they allow you to take the days off)
6. Employment Letter from your work on company letter head, signed and stamped indicating that you work in the company, your title (what you do there), length of your employment (how long you've been working there), your salary, that you have been granted time off work to travel and stating whether this is paid or unpaid time off + Photocopy of it
7. Pay slips from your company from the last 6 months (if your company doesn't usually do this, then you can ask them to prepare a paper for each month that states that your salary has been paid which must include your name and your title and salary and the date. It must be signed by you and the Management)
8. Company Registration & Trade License (tisjeel il shirke + ize3a tijariye) originals + photocopy of each (These need to be translated to English by a Sworn Translator - tirjmen m7allaf)
9. Last 6 months bank statement for you or whoever is paying for the trip + photocopy (the bank statement must be signed and stamped by the bank)
10. Hotel Confirmation + photocopy. If you have a friend or family member living in the UK, and you will stay with them, it's better not to bring them into the process because it will waste their time for no reason. Just book any hotel room in London using websites like: Booking.com or Hotels.com with the option of "FREE CANCELLATION" & "PAY LATER" and just cancel your booking after you get your visa.
11. Plane ticket + photocopy (If you know anyone who works at a travel agency, they can make a temporary online ticket booking for you [called ticket wahmiyye], which you don't have to pay for, and which you can cancel later or change. As you may have noticed, there is a "+ photocopy" on everything, this is due to the fact that they need some documents photocopied.
B) BOOKING YOUR ACTUAL STAY IN THE UK:
Now that you’ve got your visa you will need to start planning your stay. The first dilemma that arises is do you really want to stay in Manchester or should you book your hotel in London. Our advice is, if you’re not short on time, you need to spend 3 nights in Manchester to take it all in.
Below we will describe things to do in Manchester only.
There are sadly no direct flights to Manchester. You will either have to go through a different city and get a connecting flight or you can go to London and then take a train up to Manchester. Trains from London to Manchester are frequent so it’s not much of a hassle. It’s a 2-hour journey. It’s much cheaper if you book ahead of time. To buy your train ticket, go to www.nationalrail.co.uk. Keep in mind that a return ticket means ‘raw7a w raj3a’. Trains on Sunday take more than 2 hours. The station in London is called Euston and it arrives to Manchester Piccadilly Station, which is basically the center of the city.
The second decision that you have to take is where do you book your hotel. Do you stay next to Old Trafford or do you stay in the city center. Our advice is to choose a hotel in the city center. Old Trafford is just 15 minutes away and there’s really NOTHING to do at night around the stadium.
Depending on your budget, we recommend booking.com or hotels.com to look for hotels. Anywhere you stay within the center is fine; it’s all a walking distance. And honestly, the best way to discover a new place is on foot.
C) GETTING AROUND IN MANCHESTER:
The city centre easily accessible on foot. Another way to get around is to take a tram called Metro Link. (Note that metro does not mean underground in this case) When you use the tram they expect you to pay before getting on, using a machine. Don’t be smart or Lebanese about it. They do random checks on the tram and if you’re caught without a ticket then you are automatically fined £50.
Buying a mobile phone line:
It’s best to buy a line in the city and not the airport. You’ve got many options and you will be hassled by Lycamobile workers on the streets anyway. They offer better international rates. Another option is heading to a "Carphone Warehouse" or “02”. Once you get there, ask for a prepraid sim card. A sim card is pretty cheap. (Around 1 pound) But you’ll need to "top up" or charge it with 5 - 10 pounds to be able to use it. You can also add internet
D) BUYING A TICKET TO THE GAME:
To buy a ticket, you must be an official member. Since we’re an official supporters’ club, we are allocated seats for ALL home games. (Tickets to Chelsea, City, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Arsenal are limited).
Once you know which game you’d like to watch simply inform us about your interest and we can then allocate a seat to your membership card. There are no paper-based tickets. Your ticket is the membership card. You simply scan it at the gate and enter.
For cup games, you will still be able to apply through manutd.com if you are an official member. The difference is that you are not guaranteed a seat. You apply along with others and after the draw you will know if your application was successful.
We do not advice or advocate buying a ticket through any site other than manutd.com. If you do then it is at your own risk. Many are frauds seeking fools who are gullible enough to send them money.
[Click to enlarge]
E) GETTING TO OLD TRAFFORD:
Very easy! Again you can take a taxi or use the tram. Please refer to the downloadable map below. Wherever you are in the center you’ll need to take the Altrincham line and get off at the station named ‘Old Trafford.’
Click here to view | Right click and 'Save Link As' to download
F) THE OLD TRAFFORD EXPERIENCE:
Other than watching the game there are a few things you can do. We advise you to do the stadium/museum tour the day before the game. You can also book your tour ahead of time in order to avoid any disappointment. http://www.manutd.com/en/Visit-Old-Trafford.aspx. Remember that tours do not operate on match days so you’ll have to do the tour before or after the day of the game.
You can also grab a bite at the Red Café which is located at the stadium. Also at the stadium, United’s shop: The Megatsore. Inside, you will find the latest United merchandise. Make sure you show your membership card before paying at any of these places as you are entitled to discounts. Outside Old Trafford you’ll find the Trinity statue, Sir Matt Busby’s statue and Sir Alex’s statue. Walk around. Take load of pictures. This is the real deal! Don’t forget to walk through the Munich tunnel and pay tribute to the Busby Babes. Around Old Trafford you’ll find many pubs and shops. Among them Lou Macari’s fish and chip shop. You can also head to the famous Bishop Blaize for a drink. This is where many reds gather before match days. Hotel Football is also just next to the stadium.
G) THE MATCH DAY EXPERIENCE
So today’s the day of the game. You’ve arrived at Old Trafford and you’re ready to watch the mighty reds! Many fans ask us about trying to get player autographs. Your best bet is waiting at the players’ tunnel after the game, the players tend to stop more than before the game. (Refer to the map of the stadium) It’s up to you really to do so.
Enter the stadium early (an hour before kick off) if you want to take many pictures, as security will rush you out directly after kick off. Players emerge to the pitch to train 30 minutes before kick off so make sure you don’t miss that. Remember to buy the matchday programme. They tend to sell those in kiosks inside and outside the stadium for £3. It’s a nice memorabilia.
When the game is over, hang around the stadium if the weather permits. Don't go to the tram station directly because it will be packed. It shouldn’t take long though for the crowd to clear and you can be back to your hotel in no time. This is where people who choose to stay at a hotel next to Old Trafford benefit. They merely have to walk back to their hotel.
H) THE MANCHESTER EXPERIENCESo what’s there to do in Manchester? There are enough things to do in your short trip. You can spend some time in the city centre, go to the National Football Museum, stop by Piccadilly gardens or even take a bus to visit the Trafford centre.
For shopping in the city centre there’s Selfridges and Arndale malls. Inside Arndale there is a huge sports shop called Sports Direct. You can find many United related items at a cheap price.
Where to eat? You’ll find your usual fast food chains around the city centre and at Arndale’s food court. If you want to go to Rio Ferdinand’s restaurant, it’s called Rosso’s. Taste wise, you’re better off trying Wagamama, Nando’s (it’s not the terrible one we had in Lebanon), Zizzi’s .. You can also head to Rusholme which is known as Manchester’s curry mile for some yummy curry!
You’ve got plenty of choice and you won’t be disappointed.
I) TO SUM UPPlanning your trip might seem like a daunting task but trust us it’s not so hard! Let’s say you’re going to watch a 3PM Saturday game at Old Trafford. The way we’d plan it is to arrive to Manchester on Thursday. Stay at a hotel in the city centre. On arrival simply walk around town. Go on the stadium/museum tour on Friday. (You would have pre-booked the time and date of the tour) After the tour ends you’ll be directed into the megastore where you will buy all what your heart desires. Make sure you do all your shopping before the match day. You wouldn’t want to go into Old Trafford carrying bags. Once you’re done shopping, walk around and take it all in. Head back to the city centre for some more leisure time. Saturday is match day. After watching United win (Hopefully!) then it’s time to celebrate in Manchester’s pubs/bars/restaurants. It’s now Sunday and it’s time for you to leave Manchester. You don’t want to leave.. but you console yourself by saying I’ll be back one day.
That’s everything you need to know about going to the Theatre of Dreams. We wish you a very pleasant experience!
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