A Weekend in Liverpool (Day 1)

3 November 2014


I’ve just seen a face, I can’t forget the time or place that we just met. She’s just the girl for me and I want all the world to see we’ve met. My fair lady Liverpool –  Capital of Culture 2008, land of the scouse brow, of football fans, merchants and musicians alike. Liv-ah-pewl. Land of my heart... 



I’ve been concentrating with this blog on Leeds, as well as pitstopping in Manchester and hiking all over the Yorkshire Dales, but this past weekend my friend Naomi and I decided to ditch the flat & job-hunting, pack our dancing shoes (and coats BRRR) and speed away to the North West of England. We wanted a weekend of culture. A weekend of fun. A weekend on a budget!
The long and winding road starts at Northallerton. We board the train and set sail, disembarking two hours later at Liverpool Lime Street station. I’ve been reading recently about "HS3" -- proposals for new high-speed trains which I think would be of huge benefit to the North of England. We seriously need better, faster connections between the major cities! Anyways, we lug our suitcases (always overpacking, obviously) through the terminal and head outside to flag a taxi. I’ve not been here for YEARS. I used to come over this way all the time as a child to visit my Nanna & Grandad who live in Lydiate. Most of my family reside in the Merseyside area, so despite my long departure, I feel instantly at home here. I feel oddly connected to the range of buildings I see in front of me, ranging from derelict to majestic, as we come together. Love, love me do. You know I love you.

 

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on. The lovely Liverpudlian taxi driver drops us off at the Ibis hotel in the city centre. Over the road is the Albert Dock, looking abso-bloody-lutely fabulous. Behind us is the city centre. I am very excited for the weekend ahead! Liverpool, don't let me down.

We drop our stuff in our room. It’s a light and airy with twin beds, and all the usual goodies – a TV, a kettle, and other essentials. The bathroom is spherical with a slidey door and makes me feel like I’m going in a spaceship across the universe. 

 

In fact, as we get in the lift to leave, I look out of the lobby's window towards the waterfront and it's as if I’ve gone back in time. Everything in Liverpool is steeped in history. Everywhere you turn you feel like you’re in the 1960s, in the era of the Fab Four. There's something about this city. 


Once on the ground, we walk over to scope out the docks for ourselves. It’s crazy how new and old at the same time this UNESCO World Heritage Site feels. Nestled within the ancient uniform buildings is the Tate Liverpool, established in 1988.
 


Loads of school kids sit outside, legs dangling through the railings, pointing at the seagulls and drawing with pencils on their notepads. We navigate around them and into the art gallery. Inside, the room is separated into different levels, with sloping platforms leading up and downwards. It gives a really cool effect and makes the most of the space in a creative way. 



 If you fancy a trip here, the Transmitting Andy Warhol exhibition opens on the 7th of November. I'm gutted because I also missed a similar show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City which wrapped the week before I visited. The Pop Art cans of soup are evading me.

 We leave the Tate and have a little stroll along the river, noticing not one – not two, BUT THREE Costas. Necessary? I’m not sure.
Also on mass in the area are museums. There’s the International Slavery Museum, the Merseyside Maritime MuseumTate Liverpoolthe Beatles Story Museum, to name but a few. 

It's really tricky to decide which ones to look around considering our time limit, but after much deliberation we decide on the Museum of Liverpool. Oh! darling, a great choice. 
It's a colossal futuristic building, and not only extremely interactive – using technology to engage and enthrall – but personal, with stories on the walls from the likes of the city’s Asian population within the largest Chinese quarter in England.  
It’s a well of information, about the ports, the railroads, and the citizens; Liverpool is exemplified as a ‘Global City,’ a melting pot and one of the noblest knights at the round table of Britain’s history. 
Here I am on the railway replica:
I genuinely find the fake people quite frightening!
I'm really impressed by the exhibition about the life of Liverpudlian April Ashley, one of the first people to have gender reassignment surgery. A timeline of her life lights up the wall, along with poised pictures of her beautiful features. 

There's also a little cinema set up, speakeasy style, playing a film narrated by Ashley as she sifts through personal photographs from her time at the infamous Paris drag club, Le Caroussel. Before this, a Merseyside policeman appears onscreen asking victims of hate crimes not to suffer in silence. I find everything in this area impressive in its forward-thinking candour. It's in association with Homotopia, Liverpool's annual LGBT festival. 

There’s stuff for all ages in the museum, with a ‘Little Liverpool’ for kids on the first floor. And of course, where would a Museum of Liverpool be without a homage to its prodigal sons? In the music section, The Beatles faces loom large over us. There’s even a karaoke booth nearby where you can sing along to them, Cilla Black, or any of the other famous Liverpool musicians.  I'd have looked like the fool on the hill if I'd have started singing!
I'm Ringo, apparently.

We head back to the Ibis, pop on the TV, and get ready for the evening ahead. After spending hours researching places to dine, my brain is awash with quirky names. But, because we’re starving, we want somewhere close by, and we reckon where better than the docks? 
There are a lot of restaurants within the converted warehouses, examples such as Italian eaterie Gusto, and the slightly more budget The Pump House within, wait for it – an old pump house. All of these would've been great, but I’m looking for an independent Liverpool born-and-bred foodie haven, and Blue Bar & Grill ticks all the boxes. We order cocktails while we wait and sip them outside on a table overlooking the water. I could do this eight days a week. 






Then it's on to the main course. The food is exquisite! I would highly recommend it. 


And I would also suggest you try the pudding, too. 



After our meal, feeling uncomfortably full, and a little bit bevvied, we venture outside only to find it’s raining! Damn, we hadn't prepared for this. Luckily there's a taxi rank nearby so we flag one down and ask to be taken to Mathew Street. 
Everyone’s heard of the Cavern, haven’t they? The age-old underground (literally) venue that’s seen the likes of the Rolling Stones, Cilla, and of course the Beatles, who made 292 appearances there. 

Mathew Street's like the holy grail of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Huge banners emphasise the historical connection. There’s sculptures of their likenesses. There’s a bazillion tourists roaming around. We walk down the street, umbrella above us, and can’t help but picture what it would’ve been like fifty plus years ago on a Friday night, with gaggles of music lovers itching to get in to see the talent. Things are a lot different now, obviously. Gone is the grit of the backstreet blues. 
Now, this cobbled street is a very crafted cultural destination also housing lots of other bars and clubs. No ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’s, though, more thumping bass and forgettable lyrics. We literally have to force ourselves away from a sea of promoters promising us free shots, free cocktails, etc. Help! I need somebody, not just anybody. Somebody to rescue us. Or someone to take us home from the neon lights. Like a blackbird singing in the dead of night, a taxi driver pops along and saves the day. 

I’d definitely like to come here again purely for a night on the tiles. Heebie Jeebies on Seel Street is apparently a really cool bar which I'd like to visit. There's also The Kazimier which apparently has a wicked garden, serving slushes, ice creams, house cocktails and vietnamese coffee, alongside the home-brew vegan wildflower ale, Organo. The bar holds a reggae and dub night called Eat Your Greens once a month. There's a whole flock of incredible places to go out in Liverpool, a place known sometimes exclusively for its nightlife. But this time we're not here for getting on it, sadly.
We flee town and head back to the hotel to call it a night. Until we remember the nice bar downstairs! We order some wine, take a seat, and people-watch while discussing plans for the rest of our time here.



 It's a really nice way to end the evening and means we can just roll upstairs and into bed! We are too cool for school, eh? But this is the price you have to pay if you want to be a Day Tripper… The bar’s not heaving but there’s a lively atmosphere, and the prices are great.
In bed, we click on the TV and watch a bit of Friday night garbage, laughing all the way to sleep. 


See you tomorrow for Day 2!

1 comment

  1. Wow great travelling! Liverpool is just an amazing city indeed! :)

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