By Theresa Russell
Our proclamation that we had won tickets to Liverpool resulted in sneers and remarks about gritty Liverpool, with references to the Beatles being the only redeeming feature of this much-maligned city.
Arriving in Liverpool in the rain and with the lowest of expectations,we walked from the bus stop to the Premier Travel Inn situated right at the Albert Dock. We forgot about the drizzle, thrilled to see the Beatles Story right next to our hotel where we dumped our luggage and started our adventure.
The Beatles Story follows the life of this remarkable and revolutionary musical group and gives a thorough overview of the Fab 4 from their beginnings in Liverpool. Whether you are a fan of the Beatles or not, you will come away with a new appreciation for their influence on the music scene and perhaps be moved by the Imagine room, the final one on the tour. Our exploration of all things Beatles, exposed us to much of what Liverpool has to offer.
We visited Mendips, the home of John Lennon, and Forthlin, the childhood home of Paul McCartney, with the National Trust.
We left the tour at The Philharmonic Bar where John Lennon hung out to see the fine marble urinals – and to have a pint, of course. After that, a Magical Mystery Tour took us by Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and other spots associated with the Beatles. Ending at The Cavern, we went into the depths of the earth and listened to a performance there before heading back to Albert Dock.
A Port City
Exploring Liverpool by water, our options were the Mersey Ferry or a Duck tour, which we embarked on. (Recently, there have been problems with these duck tours, which currently aren’t running. Basically, two of them sank. We were told that they were designed to land troops and had a very limited prime usage period.) Even on the Duck Tour, we visited some of the Beatles sites as well as other notable monuments in Liverpool. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its history as a commercial port, Liverpool played a significant role in the movement of people – both slaves and emigrants to the New World passed through this port. The International Slavery Museum examines this sad part of its history, while the Merseyside Maritime Museum focuses on Liverpool’s intimate connection with the sea; this includes an exhibit showcasing the Titanic and its connection to Liverpool. Liverpool remains a port of call for cruise ships, like those of Cunard and has ferries that go to Dublin and the Isle of Man. All of these attractions are right at Albert Dock, making it just a hop, skip and jump from our conveniently located hotel. Along with museums, there are also shops and restaurants at Albert Dock, which is a re-developed area of warehouses and docks and now has the largest concentrated group of Grade 1 listed properties in the UK.
Liverpool, a European Capital of Culture in 2008, boasts the most listed buildings (due to their exceptional interest) outside of London. Georgian, Edwardian, neoclassical and modern buildings are found throughout the city. The Anglican Cathedral is the largest cathedral in the UK, and the Chinese Arch is the largest such arch outside of China.
We joined the Royal Oak Foundation in the US before we departed for the UK, knowing that membership would allow us free entry into National Trust properties throughout the UK including Mendips, Forthlin and Mr. Hardman’s Photographic Studio in Liverpool. The photographic studio gave us a look into postwar Liverpool and insight into the role that Mr. Hardman played in the field of portrait and landscape photography.
You can’t talk about Liverpool without mentioning its football (soccer) team, incomparable in the history of British football. You will find a game on in the pubs and find the fans to be very devoted followers of the local club. Don’t even think of rooting for Manchester.
Our time in Liverpool quickly came to a close, but not without us touring the Tate Gallery at Albert Dock and taking a quick tour of St. George’s with its dungeons, chapel and Minton tile floors. The next day, as our ferry pulled away to the Isle of Mann, we admired the iconic Three Graces of Liverpool that dominate the Liverpool waterfront. The Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Building slowly faded into the distance, but our memories of this surprising and underappreciated city remained fresh in our minds.
About Theresa Russell
Claiming her lust for travel began on her first journey through the birth canal, Theresa is genetically programmed to travel and to have fun doing it. She especially enjoys adventure and experiential travel and always finds something at a destination to write home about.