Let's start this post out with a story.
Long ago in Liverpool, two mystical birds haunted the shores of the medieval city. The male and female pair were chained down to a building by the River Mersey and if were they ever to fly away the river would burst and its banks would flood and destroy the beloved city of Liverpool. Over the years, the enslaved birds protected the city dutifully. The female looked out to the sea (Our Prosperity) watching for the seamen to return safely home and the male looked towards the city (Our People) of the families of the traveling seamen and open pubs. If the birds were ever to escape together, the city would cease to exist. The hopeful Liver birds may also come to life if an honest man and a virgin women were to fall in love in front them. Tragically for the birds, but not the pubs, this has never happen in the centuries past and is likely never to take place. So rest in peace knowing that Liverpool will exist for many years to come with the stone protectors standing still.
Now that you've had a nice introduction to Liverpool, enjoy some grainy phone photos of my weekend trip to visit the home of the 'Scousers' or officially the 'Liverpudlians.' (Really. Liverpool was once referred to as Liverpuddle. This is why the people need birds to protect it.)
After a long train ride, we went straight to drop our bags in our airbnb room in Wallasey. It was about 20 minutes away from centre Liverpool, but due to late planning all the hostels were booked (so many stag dos and hen parties). Luckily, our room was amazing and I completely recommend using airbnb. We slept so much better than in a shared hostel and got a real breakfast out of it. Well within my mid twenties now, I find I am learning to appreciate a quiet bed even if you have to end your night out to catch the last metro.
Next stop, the beginning of a 2 day search for good coffee. We tried many places and found one in the end that had a truly decent cup. But there were lots of places with fun atmospheres, like Central Perk designed to mimic the 'Friends' coffee shop. In the end, the lack of really good coffee was our strongest complaint of Liverpool.
Liverpool is great for meandering. Its neither too large to do on foot, nor too small to get bored of in a weekend. The architecture is STUNNING and varied. It was a grey weekend and still the city was beautiful. Lots of stone. Some buildings we checked out in the old section of the city were the public library and the Walker Art Gallery (photos below). Both are beautiful spaces and free to explore. The Walker Gallery has a range of more traditional and older art works, primarily oil paintings. But it still houses some contemporary works, including the John Moores Painting Prize exhibit.
Liverpool is basically second only to Newcastle in the nightlife department. Personally, I think it deserves to be higher on the list because there are tons of bars, pubs and clubs with a variety of music. There were Irish bars, live acoustic, rock bands, pop, jazz/swing, electronic, and Beatles and classic rock/Brit pop (obviously being home the Fab 4 it keeps that history alive). This was only what we witnessed walking within a half mile square area. One of our main tourist spots was the famous Cavern Club. It has a great design and good music but it is ridiculously crowded of people that may or may not be there for the actual music. In general, this city is a great place to go out and try lots of different vibes. Its not too 'party' style for my taste (like Newcastle) but there was still plenty of the drunk young and old parties wandering around. If you can put up with some of the oddballs and the club promoters, you're sure to find something to your taste here
One of the interesting cultural elements of the city is the two large cathedrals: one Anglican and one Catholic. The Angelican Cathedral is the largest Cathedral in the UK and one of the main tourist attractions. It is amazing and almost bizarre in scale and efficiency. There is a well developed café within the main church and a couple contemporary art works mixed in with the religious artworks. Despite its magnificence, the commercial-tourist element is very prominent and distracting.
On the opposite end of Hope Street (coincidently named) is the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral. This smaller Cathedral is no less grand. I found this church fascinating in design. Locally nicknamed 'Paddy's Wigwam' for its unique architecture, this may be the oddest and most contemporary Catholic churches I've witnessed. The massive stained glass and set artworks are all color coordinated and the circular design removes any strong focal points. I wish I could have seen this place in the sun, because even on a grey day the colors were inspiring. When I visited, a musical service was taking place (violin, piano, and cello) so I could not explore the whole cathedral. But in some ways, it was even better since the music was lovely and again, felt very contemporary for a Catholic service. Its an interesting street, Hope Street.
Not far from Hope Street is Bold Street. We had not actually planned on going here, but were lucky to do so. This street is filled with local shops, cafes, and foreign food restaurants. It was also the only place we found really good coffee. Important stuff. I had some great Moroccan and Lebanese food while there. The whole street feels young and creative and leads you down towards the city and centre and commercial district.
One of the last major spots I'll mention is Albert Dock. By the water, the docks link together multiple museums, shops and cafes for a great walking and family spot. Below you can see the five minutes of sun outside the TATE Liverpool. It was very nice on the orange. The TATE is a free art spot that I greatly enjoyed. The coffee there was some of the worst I've had in awhile, but the exhibitions were thoughtful and creatively curated to highlight a variety of styles and artists.
Liverpool is a great weekend destination. I felt I had enough time to get a good impression but that there was still more to explore. Despite their ridiculous nicknames and horrible coffee, this is a great mid-sized city that I could see spending more time in.
Until my next adventure! -S