Joined: 2 May 2001
From: Marlborough Massachusetts USA
I am back from my trip to Liverpool and London and will now proceed to excite you with the report or bore you to tears! I won't go day by day but will make sure to fill you in on all we did.
First off, we found Liverpool to be a really nice English city, filled with really nice English people. I say this because it differs greatly from London, which you all know to be as multi-cultural and diverse as it gets. Nothing wrong with that at all and it's what makes London what it is today but the contrast between the two was welcome and made it really seem that we were in two entirely different cities and not a smaller version of London. I also have to admit I am going to miss being called "luv" by all the men....at my age, it was much better than the usual "ma'am"...which I really hate!
We arrived at Liverpool Lime St. station, after a long but relaxing trip up from London. Trains vary with their travel times and we just jumped on the next available one after arriving at Euston Station. That particular ride was close to 3 hours but with free WiFi available, 3 hours goes by quickly enough. It was pouring with rain.....really coming down hard. Yes, Tudor, it was English rain so we all know how different that makes things! However, as is the norm with us when we come to Britain, we packed the sunshine and within 1 hour, it stopped, the sun came out and stayed pretty much with us for the entire trip. The only other showery, rainy day was the travel day back to London and it was sunny by the time we arrived there. Our weather luck never ceases to amaze us.
Our condo we rented was nothing short of phenomenal. Sweeping river views of the Mersey River and all the shipping traffic which goes along with that. It was a 2 bedroom, 2 full bath condo and absolutely lovely. Quite reasonably priced also if anyone is ever in Liverpool and needs the address. It was a short, 20 minute walk to the riverfront area and all the shops and restaurants so very convenient for everything you need.
The main reason for going there was to do the Beatles related tours and they did not disappoint. We did the Beatles Experience which was a museum type of attraction and told the story of their beginnings and years together as a band. Lots of music and very interesting. We also did the Magical Mystery bus tour, which was totally touristy but a lot of fun. That was 2 hours long and drove you all over Liverpool to their birthplaces, where they went to school, Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, of course, and places referenced to in their songs, along with little stories about the band that most don't hear. The tour guy was very funny and made the tour ultra enjoyable with his deep, Scouse accent. The owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team was trying to purchase the Liverpool Football Club during our visit, which he eventually did do, so we were subjected to a lot of ribbing from the locals about it.....very friendly jabs which made the trip more personal. The Magical Mystery tour guide kept referring to them as the Boston Red Shirts but then he called me luv so all was forgiven! If you are a Beatles fan and ever find yourself in Liverpool, I would recommend these attractions and tours very much.
We also did a tour of the Wirral Peninsula, right across the River Mersey. We did a bus tour, with Liverpool locals interested in history and it was great to be the outsiders on the bus. The people couldn't have been more warm and friendly. We drove through little villages, beautiful countryside which was hard to believe being so close to a major city. We toured Port Sunlight Village, which was a village built by a businessman who wanted clean places for his workers to live in. No pun intended there as it was the Lever soap people who did this. You can Google it to get a more detailed story but the village was absolutely lovely.
On another day, we did the Maritime Museum on Albert Dock, which had exhibitions of the Titanic, Lusitania and Empress of Ireland maritime disasters. They also had a special exhibition of Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure, which was a collection of unbelievably beautiful and haunting photo's of Shackleton's quest to reach the South Pole. All black and white photographs that were so crisp and detailed it was hard to believe they were taken so long ago. It's a very interesting story of what happened to that expedition and best of all, these museums are all free. I did not know this exhibition was there and it was well worth the visit.
We also did foot tours of the inner part of the city, by ourselves this time, and had fun going down the little winding streets and finding the Cavern Club, where the Beatles phenomenon all started. It is a pedestrianized city center, which made it all the more enjoyable. There is also Liverpool One, which is a huge, 5 story shopping center and fairly new. They had restaurants there which we ate in at night but really didn't do any shopping. There was just too much to see in Liverpool and I can shop at home.
OK, now for my admission that I hope Tudor will forgive me for.......although we walked past or drove by both cathedrals, we never had time to go inside. There, I said it! We really meant to but ran out of time the last day. We were going to go to the Anglican cathedral after the Magical Mystery Tour ended but we got stuck in Liverpool traffic and were late getting back. The cathedral closes at 5:00 and we just didn't have time to go inside. They were closing. I think it's the largest cathedral in Europe or something along those lines and they ain't kidding! Absolutely enormous looking from outside so I can imagine what the inside looks like. It's our reason for another little trip to Liverpool, which we would do as we enjoyed this city so much. It reminded me of Boston, where I live, with the revitalized waterfront only the people are much friendlier. Very welcoming bunch of folks and there is plenty to do there for sightseeing. As for the cathedrals, they are on either end of Hope St., one of the main drags in the city. The other one is rather funky looking, like a large crown but supposedly has one of the most beautiful stained glass windows
in any cathedral. Yes, it was very disappointing we never made it into these places but hopefully, we can go back even for a short visit and make them a priority.
The other place of distinction we visited was St. George's Hall in the middle of the city. Not extremely impressive from the outside but gorgeous on the inside. It has a killer pipe organ and is used now for corporate events and weddings, plus concerts in the little concert hall at one end. We started talking to a couple of women who worked there and in true Liverpudlian fashion, they were so friendly and started taking us into area's of the building not open to the public. We saw the beautiful concert hall...all gold and chandeliers. One of the women started playing the piano on the stage and we laughed at that.....they were so nice and kept on talking and telling us all about the place. They even had prison cells in the basement, which we saw until they had to kick us out at closing time. It was a pleasure to talk to them and they treated us like old friends.
So endith our stay in Liverpool! I highly recommend the city, even though it has not been as nice in the past. Many people have no idea how much it's been revitalized and improved upon and still think of Liverpool as it was in the 60's or before, when it was all bombed out during the war. I guess it was quite depressed in past times but not anymore. The people are great and so welcoming, plus it's still very English, which is what people want to experience when they come to England! One thing we did not know was Liverpool was the second most bombed city, outside of London, during WWII, due to it's shipping and access to the sea. We saw the photos and it really was flattened.
The other thing of note was the architecture. Michael took a total of 600 photos and many were just all the beautiful buildings in both cities. You just don't get stuff like that in the States, to such a degree. The waterfront is loaded with all these gorgeous buildings that are being cleaned of all their soot. I think this is what makes the UK so nice to visit....the beauty of all those ancient buildings and some not so ancient. We tend to knock things down here once they get too old and I hate that!
I will do our report on London but give me a little time as I am having a dental implant started on Saturday. I may try to write something over the week-end, if I can load up on pain-killers and still see the keyboard to write! I also have lovely photos we took so maybe at some point I will learn to post those in the travel photo