I've decided to break this travel log up into several points for easier reading: tourist outings, places to eat, and where I stayed and how I got there. I apologise if it seems a bit long, I just wanted to give you an in-depth description. I haven't written a travel log for the blog before so go easy on me!
- To get an idea of the city, myself and my sister (who I travelled with), decided to go on an open-top double-decker bus. They have these in many cities around the world, I've been on ones in Dublin and Belfast too, and they are an easy, quick and fun way to get a general gist of the city you're in without walking round for miles with no clue where you're going. The bus journey was about 40 minutes long and took us all around the city, where we were given a running commentary of important places of interest. The best thing about this trip was that it's so cheap (only something like £8) and you can get off the bus at any point and get on it again at a later stage if you so wish at no extra cost.
- So obviously you just can't go to Liverpool without checking out some of the Beatles attractions. The fab four were born and raised in the city, and it's impossible to get away from their everlasting presence there. I'm a massive fan of the band myself so a trip to the Beatles museum - called the Beatles Story - was definitely in order! I'm haven't been a student since May last year but I managed to snag student entry price ticket into the museum (don't know how I managed that but yay!). Inside the museum there is lots of memorabilira, in detail facts about the band, from their childhood, early musical experiences (I didn't realise that John Lennon had his own band before the Beatles, called the Quarrymen!), various albums, plenty of photos and clothes that they wore, some of the band's musical instruments, and re-creations of some of the places in the city they played at. For more information please check out their website http://www.beatlesstory.com/. Below are just a few photos I took from inside the museum. (The picture of me is in a part of the museum that was a recreation of a yellow submarine, as based on the band's hit song!).
- Speaking of the Beatles, we were on the bus that I've mentioned above when one of the stops to get off at was a pub called 'the Phil' or the Philharmonic Dining Rooms (to give it it's full title). I was thinking what's the relevance of this but it's actually where a certain dude called John Lennon used to frequent when he was a student at the Liverpool College of Art and still popped in when he joined the Beatles and became famous. He was quoted as saying that one of the downsides of his fame with the Beatles was not being able to go to the Phil as often as he would have liked. As you can see from the photo of the interior, it looks pretty snazzy, and has a very rustic feel to it, with stained glass windows - definitely feels where pop royalty would hang out! We felt so cool having a drink in John Lennon's pub you would not believe - we were like 'his arse could have been sitting on this chair' LOL! We went to it on the first day of arriving in Liverpool after we got off the bus tour and ended up going there for a drink pretty much every evening we stayed there. We even tried out some local ale, though it tasted like piss, quite frankly! It's situated on Hope Street. They also serve food as well. Further information on the pub is available at http://www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/thephilharmonicdiningroomsliverpool/.
- We took a trip down to the Albert Docks which is obviously the dockland area of the city. Because of it's close proximity to the sea, Liverpool has for centuries been an important sea port and maritime port (many of it's people were involved in the navy and the ship-building industry, so much so that the city even has it's own maritime museum - which I'll talk about later). The day we went down the docks was very sunny and beautiful and it seemed so peaceful around that area. It is home to a number of important tourist destinations, including several museums, which I'm later going to discuss.
- Museum of Liverpool: This museum is one of several museums located in the Albert Docks. This is a general museum, catering for all topics, it's not specifically war or anything like that. I didn't realise this at the time, but the exhibitions seem to change every so often, so the ones on at the time when we were there in February are obviously not on now. When we went however we checked out the exhibition detailing Liverpool's role in World War I, which was full of interesting information. There's also a children's interactive section as well, so it's great for all the family. I didn't find it that amazing though, but it's free entry, so if you're there, you may as well check it out!
- Merseyside Maritime Museum: As the name suggests, this museum is dedicated to everything maritime (sea) related. There's lots of information about the navy, more on Liverpool's role in the wars, and a very interactive view of life as a seaman throughout the ages. Oddly enough, it's designed to feel like a ship on the inside, which I found a little bit strange but quirky at the same time. They had an exhibition on at the time on the doomed ship Titanic, as much of the ship was actually built in Liverpool and many of Liverpool's people went on to board the ill-fated liner. I found that in particular very interesting as I have quite a fascination with the Titanic. There's lots of interesting facts about the ship, the process involved in making the ship plus actual diaries from survivors. It's free entry as well, which means you definitely must check it out. Highly recommend this place. And yes, that is a giant anchor outside the front door! Standard. More information can be found here: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/.
- International Slavery Museum: So obviously as the name suggests, this is a museum dedicated to the lives of slaves but it also contains alot of material on those who campaigned for slavery and black people's rights, such as Martin Luther King. It also has a lot of information about different African cultures, which I found particulary fascinating. Very interesting museum. It's free entry again, and More information can be found here: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/.
- Bombed out Church: We actually passed this one and thought it was a fancy cathedral so we popped in to have a look. As you can see from the picture, St Luke's Church looks very pristine from the outside. However, inside it's a completely different story and we soon discovered it was bombed out in the Blitz during World War II in May 1941, so it's basically just a shell, there's nothing inside. The church was bought by the City of Liverpool after the blitz and they've attempted to turn it into a place of peace and tranquility, but all that I gathered from it was that it was a silly tackfest operation, with many Chinese lanterns for sale. Definitely didn't think it was that impressive.
Places to eat/shopping:
- St John's is a huge shopping center in the center of Liverpool city and has plenty of food venues, clothes shops and makeup outlets. We went there a lot for lunch too because it had a really good restaurant that had traditional fish and chips with mushy peas (was so good!) for only £4.
- Nandos: So I'm from the west of Ireland which means that I never get the opportunity to go to Nandos unless I'm in Dublin, but with a massive Nandos right beside St John's shopping center, I took full advantage and went for it! Well if it's good enough for Beyonce... I love the chicken in Nandos, it's amazing, but I'm not so keen on the chips, they remind me of Mc Donalds fries as they're just so thin, and really don't fill ya! But if you have eaten in Nandos before you know that one of the best things about it is that you can have unlimited drinks while you're there and can keep refilling your drink as many times as you want.
- Italian restaurant: So on the first evening we arrived in Liverpool we went to a really fancy Italian restaurant called Bella Italia for dinner. It was in close proximity to the train station and we were starving so we said sure why not. I'm a huge fan of Italian food and love my lasagna and spaghetti bolognese, so I had pretty high expectations for this place. And it did not disappoint! The spaghetti was hands down the best spaghetti I've ever had in my life, no word of a lie. Honestly the best food ever. Though it was £15 which is a bit on the pricey side it was so worth it. For more information please see their website http://www.bellaitalia.co.uk/italian-restaurant/liverpool/.
- Asda/Iceland: If all else fails and you subsequently end up with severe low funds like we did (oops!), you can always check out the local Iceland store located in the St John's shopping center. A big bag of chips for 59p? Yes please!
Where I stayed:
- I was on a budget so I was looking for cheap but nice enough places to stay in the city. We ended up booking the Everton Hostel, on Everton Road. It was so affordable to stay there. It was £10 per night to stay there Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then on the Monday it was only £5 per night. Great bargain! It had free WiFi and free breakfast too. It worked out handy for us as it was located right opposite a bus stop that would take you directly to the city center. The staff couldn't be more helpful too. Their walls were painted with various Beatles murals, including a cool one of John Lennon perched on a globe (below),which I thought was so quirky! For more information please check out their website: https://evertonhostel.com/.
How I got there:
- My local airport, Ireland West Airport Knock, flies directly into John Lennon International Airport. The cost of the flight varies depending on what day you're flying out on and is obviously dearer at weekends. The time we flew in February the flight from Knock to Liverpool was E20 and the return flight was E35, but it can be cheaper depending on the time. We flew with Ryanair because they were the cheapest airline to fly to, and the flight takes about an hour.
- On a side note, the airport is obviously named after John Lennon, and boasts a statue of him. I really thought the tagline for the airport was super cute too - lyrics from Lennon's song Imagine - 'above us only sky'.