Liverpool, England – 2012 visit
The last port of call on my recent three-month ocean voyage was in the historic port of Liverpool. There was something for everyone to do in Liverpool.
If your pleasure is shopping, Liverpool is the place for you. There are many areas to visit, including Liverpool ONE. This is a three-leveled retail mecca which included retail shopping, restaurants and a park. Pianos were dispersed through the shopping area, and were available for public use during certain times of the day. There was also a St. John’s shopping center, located between Elliot, Lime and Roe Streets. And there are many smaller shops for souvenirs and other items at the Albert Dock.
If your pleasure is museums, there are many choices and most (if not all) were free of charge to enter. We visited the Maritime Museum, which is located in Albert Dock and which also houses the Slavery Museum. The Maritime Museum focused on some of the major sea disasters that were related to Liverpool. These included the Empress of Ireland, Titanic and Lusitania. The museum also included displays on many other aspects of shipping and boating. There is also a new Museum of Liverpool which has exhibits about football and the Beatles. In addition, their exhibits included what it’s like to be a Liverpudlian, elevated railways, and more.
If you are interested in the Beatles, all of whom were born in Liverpool, there are plenty of tours. There are three hour, four hour and all day tours that visit spots such as Penny Lane, Mendips, Forthlin Road, Strawberry Field, St. Peters Woolton, The Art College and the Liverpool Institute, to name just a few. I did not participate in any of these tours, but those who did found them to be very informative and enjoyable.
If beer is your thing, there are breweries to tour and pubs to try. We took a tour of Cain’s brewery (tours must be arranged ahead of time), which was a tour of a working brewery. Our tour guide was lively and humorous, sprinkling his overview of the Cain’s Brewery history and working processes with his ebullient personality. The tour costs 8 pounds typically, and includes a pint of beer at the end.
Other parts of England
If you are interested in touring other areas of England, please note that while trains and buses do service much of the country, you must plan ahead if you wish to use a rental car. Rental car companies are not open on the weekends, or have very limited hours. Therefore, obtaining a rental car on Saturdays and Sundays is close to impossible. Also, on Sundays, bus service may be spotty. The best bet if you wish to visit during a weekend is to make plans before you leave home.
One day, we did, however, visit the historic town of Chester. Chester is a mere 40 minutes away from Liverpool by train. It is a walled city, founded as a fort in the year 79 (yup). Chester includes a castle, beautiful architecture, quaint cobblestone streets with ivy covered brick buildings complete with statues. There is also a plethora of retail stores and restaurants. A visit to Chester should include a trip to the Military Museum, the Chester Castle, and a walk around the Chester Walls.
You won’t be disappointed with the Liverpool food although it was a little tough to find a restaurant that served breakfast early. Most places that did serve a full breakfast opened at 10, and served eggs until noon. We did find a beautiful restaurant called “the HUB alehouse and kitchen” which was located at 16 Hanover Street that served a full English breakfast (starting at 10am). The breakfast included one egg, over easy, and then one each of the following: bacon, sausage, toast, black sausage, helping of beans.
Unlike other areas in Europe, though, finding a restaurant that served dinner at American times was easy in Liverpool. Many areas of Europe do not even open for dinner until after 7, and in some areas, much later than that. However, in Liverpool, whenever you were hungry, there was a place to eat. We tried three different restaurants, and all were delicious.
First, an Argentinian Steakhouse, called Meet, which is located at 50 Brunswick Street. The food was absolutely delicious. We tried lobster bites and a prawn appetizer. My tuna steak was fabulous, and our dessert was scrumptious. Then, we tried the Miller & Carter steakhouse in Albert Dock where I had the fillet with the Chimichurri (parsley, oregano, garlic and chilli). Oh yum. And finally we tried the Gusto restaurant also in Albert Docks where I had a delicious meal of scallops.
So my parting thoughts on Liverpool: The food is great, the shopping plentiful, the people wonderful, the prices within reason, the historical sightseeing abundant. The only caution is related to rental cars – if you want to explore the country by car, make your arrangements for a rental car before you leave home.