As the summer drew to a close, we decided to have a short break before the “onslaught” of school/work/college. We decided on Liverpool. It’s a short flight from us and the 10yo is a big Liverpool FC fan. Actually, the flight was surprisingly short. We weren’t long in the air when the flight attendant requested that people secure their seat belts again. Initially, I thought we were going to hit some turbulence but it was actually for landing. So the flight landed, we descended the steps, rounded numerous sterile corners, waited in line for all the passengers to filter through customs before emerging into the terminal of Liverpool John Lennon airport. Ok, let’s find a taxi.
I was in Liverpool once before – for two nights – back in the late 80’s. Those nights were spent in bars and clubs, so you’ll have to forgive me if my memory is hazy! 🙂 However, I do recall how it looked pretty dilapidated and forgotten. But it was the 80’s after all, and most of Ireland and the UK was bloody, depressed, broke and unemployed. I believe that’s why the music was so damn good back then.
Anyway, after dispensing copious amounts of advice about where to visit, where not to visit, how to bring up your kids, what’s wrong with the country, how Liverpudlians are not really British and how the Irish are actually Liverpudlian, Liam the taxi driver delivered us to our hotel.
He was a pretty nice guy actually and was a welcome introduction to the city and the Liverpudlian psyche.
Being Irish, we, of course, had booked into Jurys Inn. 😉 After having something to eat, we decided to take a walk around this location – Albert Dock. It’s a beautiful part of the city. The Dock was first opened in 1846 and was the first structure in Britain to be built with no structural wood, making it non-combustible. Therefore, the port became very popular as a storage area for valuable cargoes. After being damaged by bombing during the second world war and because of the decline in docking, the future of Albert Dock was uncertain. In 1972, the dock finally closed. During the 1980, the dock was re-developed and today is the number one tourist spot in Liverpool.
We spent a couple of hours exploring this area before returning to the hotel in the evening time. We had a few drinks in the bar before retiring for the night. While the hotel is absolutely fine, the food in the bar in the evening may not be enough for you. Probably best to eat out.
We had planned to take an open-top sightseeing bus tour of the city the next day and to visit Anfield, home to Liverpool FC. However, the weather was a tad overcast and misty so we decided to explore the city some more. We visited The Merseyside Maritime Museum. You could spend the whole day here, as there are loads to see. I loved it, but after a while my accomplices found the going a bit tough and abandoned me to seek solace in Liverpool One – the biggest shopping precinct in Europe. Lightweights!
I was raised on a diet of war comics and had always believed torpedoes to be 5/7 foot long so was quite surprised to see the actual size of one! This is a British Mark VIII torpedo. It is 22 foot long and was the Royal Navy’s standard submarine torpedo during the Second World War. A ‘steam’ torpedo, it was propelled by an engine fuelled by compressed air and shale oil. Because of this, they left a trail of bubbles in their wake which meant they were relatively easily spotted by the enemy. It had a top speed of 45 knots (52 Mph) and a range of 400-2000 yards.
I left the Maritime Museum and headed across in the direction of the Museum of Liverpool. It’s not that I’m a massive fan of museums or anything, but the blend of old and modern architecture around the docks area is stunning and I wanted to see more of it.
Along the way, you’ll pass this statue of Billy Fury, a Liverpudlian crooner from the 50’s/60’s era. I had heard of him but he is from before my time. Still, I thought his statue made for a good photographic opportunity.
The Museum of Liverpool is devoted to the history of the city. It’s a mish-mash of exhibits that tackle social, historical and contemporary issues. On display is everything from an overhead railway to items from the city’s sporting and creative history. What I enjoyed most was the superb view from the main north-facing window. Oh, and most importantly, there is a coffee shop on the ground floor.
Although the docks area is very “touristy”, it is also very beautiful and well worth a visit, or two. You’re probably not going to meet many Liverpudlians along the way, except for those who work there. All of the museums and sights were free. The modern architecture blends very well with the old architecture and you could easily spend a few hours walking aimlessly around while admiring it. I’ll definitely come back to walk further along the Mersey and see what else this part of the city has to reveal. But for now, it was time to head to Liverpool One and see if there was anywhere I could spend my money.
Liverpool ONE is HUGE. Spread out over 42 acres in the city centre, it is a retail-led development that includes leisure facilities, apartments, offices and public open spaces. It is the largest open-air centre in the United Kingdom. If shopping is your thing, then this will not disappoint you.
It’s well laid out and you will not get lost easily. It’s entirely pedestrian and like the rest of Liverpool, very litter free. Unlike other similar sized cities, Liverpool feels very safe to walk around. I didn’t feel like I needed eyes in the back of my head and because it’s so spacious, it is relatively easy to keep an eye out for each other. We did spot a couple of “likely lads” but overall, very few in compassion with other places we have been.
Because there is no traffic to contend with, there is a very relaxed feel when sauntering around the shops. Although we spent quite a few hours here, I only purchased one item – a wireless remote control for my camera. Watch out for a review of this in the next few weeks.
If there is one thing Liverpool has no shortage of, it is coffee shops! Unfortunately, the vast majority of them is Costa Coffee. I’m not a fan of their coffee and I’m not a fan of them. It appears to me that whenever Costa come into an area, then the local coffee shops close down.
It’s a great location to indulge in a spot of street photography and I easily snapped a few hundred photos during the times we were there. Photo opportunities were everywhere and I felt like a child in a sweet shop … or a guy in a camera shop … or a street photographer in a busy city! You know what I mean.
While we were there, The Liverpool Wire had been erected. It runs for nearly 1000ft, starting at Church Street and continuing down to Lord Street. (I sound like a local now.) A 100ft launch tower lay at one end that sent adrenaline junkies whizzing over thousands of shoppers at speeds of up to 40mph in the space of a minute, travelling more than the length of the pitches at Goodison Park and Anfield combined.
The young girl in the photo below didn’t quite make it all the way to the second tower and languished overhead while waiting to be rescued. I do hope someone hasn’t forgotten her!
Even if you’re not into shopping, it’s worth having a wander around Liverpool ONE just to people watch or for the buzz alone. However, even the most ardent of shoppers will eventually tire and after a few hours, it was time to call it a day and head back to the hotel to put the feet up for a while.
On the way, you will pass The Old Pumphouse which is now a restaurant and bar. It’s the perfect spot to drop into for some food and/or a few beers. By this time, the weather had cleared up and you could sit outside and soak up the wonderful atmosphere. Just watch out for the seagulls – especially the white one with the bit of black on his left wing!
The next day dawned and we decided to get the bus tour to Anfield – home to Liverpool FC. The tour guide was a great character and was determined to find out the price of the pint in the home country of all the passengers on the bus. No surprise then that Ireland came out tops! He told some great stories on the way out and informed us of the names the locals had on the various buildings, like the streaky bacon building.
So, we had arrived at Anfield. It was actually smaller than we had thought. However, we were assured that a major re-development was imminent. I’ve been meaning to call Brendan to discuss this with him.
The grass on the pitch has to be seen to be believed. I swear, it would be more comfortable to sleep on than my own bed. The 10-year-old was very tempted to run out onto the pitch, but the threat of legal action and a lifetime ban dissuaded him. He’ll just have to wait until after the signing. 🙂 The tour of the stadium was quite good and afterwards, I felt like I was now a part of the big Liverpool FC family.
I was never a football fan, but have in recent times began to classify myself as a Liverpool fan by proxy. (Why? See photo above) I could devote a whole blog post to the tour of Anfield, but won’t. (Thankfully, says you) 🙂
Anyway, we got the tour bus back into town and I took too many photos along the way. Most were of the buildings along the route but also, some of my fellow passengers that were taking photos of said buildings. It struck me that so many tourists have pictures of places from what I would think are unusual angles. I may actually devote a later article to those photos taken from unusual angles. I have lots!
When we arrived back in town, we made our way to Mathew Street, home to The Cavern Club. No more than Liverpool FC, I’m not really a fan of The Beatles but I do appreciate what they did for modern music and psychedelic drugs. You had to pay to get into the club – we declined and wandered around the street looking like tourists, and taking photos of tourists looking like tourists.
I know that I am guilty of “overusing” my mobile. However, when I got home and looked down through all the photos that I took, I couldn’t believe the number of people in them that are glued to their tiny screens. I could actually make an entire post dedicated to people in Liverpool using their mobile phones.
It also struck me as somewhat odd that these guys were taking pictures of themselves with a metal statue of John Lennon while a real live musician was giving his all nearby. God only knows what the older gentleman is pointing at!
Anyway, we were getting tired of the tourists and all the sightseeing so we decided we would retire to The Pumphouse for an ale and something to eat. And that’s another thing that we liked about Liverpool. Everything was within easy reach of each other. Besides the journey to and from the airport, we didn’t get one other taxi during our few days in the city. We walked everywhere.
All in all, we had a few lovely days in Liverpool. The city and its people are lovely and everything is very accessible. There were no signs of a recession while we were there and it was great to get away from the political/social landscape that we have to endure in Ireland. We will definitely go back. (to Liverpool) 🙂
Time for one or two more snaps on the walk back to our hotel. I loved the old architecture down at the docks and the way it has been restored. There is a great sense of the maritime history as you wander around.
The Wheel of Liverpool was directly outside our hotel and all 196ft (60m) of it, with its 42 capsules beckoned us every time we passed by. On our last evening there, Carmel and Kaelan stepped on board and enjoyed the stunning panoramic views of the city’s famous landmarks like you’ve never seen before. I chickened out – well someone had to take the photos! 🙂 Maybe the next time, Liverpool.
Thanks for reading this far. If you have any thoughts or observations, do leave them in a comment and feel free to share this. Bye. 🙂