We have recently returned from a 3-week trip to Northwest England and Scotland. We spent three nights in Liverpool. This was our third time to the city (2000 & 2006), and once again, we were made to feel really welcome and at home. We arrived by train direct from Manchester Airport to Liverpool Lime Street Station. It took about one hour. From Lime St., it was a short walk to our centrally located hotel. We immediately got out into the city and took a spin on their new wheel (like a small London Eye). It wasn't there on our last visit. Good views of the city and the commentary was entertaining. The revamped Museum of Liverpool was terrific! It isn't very attractive from the outside but the huge windows provide great views of the "Three Graces" - the three beautiful buildings that make Liverpool's waterfront so recognizable. The exhibits are well put together and next time I will allot much more time there. I finally got to the Catholic cathedral, otherwise known as Paddy's Wigwam, having missed it on the earlier visits. I can't say that I loved it, but it certainly was beautiful in its own way. The Anglican cathedral would have more appeal for architecture traditionalists. ...continued...
Being my third visit to Liverpool, I thought it high time that I do a Beatles tour. We took the Magical Mystery Bus Tour. It turned out to be such a highlight - because of the welcome we received - more than the Beatles sights themselves. We were the only two tourists on board; the rest were church friends of the guy who was running it and they bought their ticket as a fundraiser for the church. Being locals, these sights are everyday for them and they were more interested in us than the tour. We were like celebrities! Front row, everyone wanting to get to talk to us, giving us things, offering us advice. The best though, was the bus driver. Having learned we were in Liverpool mainly for the Liverpool Football Club match the next day (more to come on the match), he also showed us some of the players' homes! It ended up the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour SLASH Liverpoool Players' Homes tour. It really is the warm welcome you receive in Liverpool that makes it unique. My guess is that tourism hasn't taken off to the point that they are jaded about tourists. We're not just a walking money machine to them. Show just a little enthusiasm for their city and you will get it back tenfold. Another example of this was we had lunch at a place called The Hub. Our waiter overheard us talking about the city and offered to answer any questions. He spent a fairly long time with us, despite it being a very busy lunchtime. In a weird twist of fate, we ran into him two more times on the street in the coming days and he said hello. It gave the big city a small town feel, as though we had friends there. ...continued
Now, the match! We had tickets to the last match of the season, May 18th vs. QPR. We have in fact been before. Way back in 2000 we went to Anfield (the Liverpool home ground) and watched them beat Charlton Athletic 3-0. Liverpool won this one too, 1-0. This was a very special match to go to for hardcore supporters such as ourselves. The result itself wasn't as important as saying goodbye to one of the players. Liverpool's Jamie Carragher had announced his retirement and this was his last match. For those of you who don't follow football, "Carra" as we call him is a local boy who joined Liverpool as a boy and stayed with one team his whole career, a rarity in any sport. Everything about the match was about showing our appreciation to him. We made matchday a whole-day experience. We booked the 9:40 matchday tour of Anfield. Unfortunately on matchday the tour doesn't allow you into the locker rooms, however having done the full tour twice before we didn't mind. We thought we'd arrive to find a desolate area with only a few people milling about (kickoff wasn't until 4pm). In fact, the vendors were mostly setup, the club shop was open, and lots of people were already there taking in the atmosphere. After the tour we bought a load of Liverpool gear and actually had to take a taxi back to the hotel to it off and come straight back! Our seats were high up but we had a good view of the whole pitch. Liverpool's pre-game tradition is to sing You'll Never Walk Alone -- look for it on youtube. What a thrill to be part of it again, singing our lungs out with 45000 others. ...continued...
It is tradition that after the last home game of the season the team do a lap of honour. The players walk around the pitch applauding the fans thanking them for their support during the season, and they do so with their children. The kids run around the pitch having fun, or being held by their fathers. The young ones generally wear a team jersey with their dad's number and "Daddy" above it. I've watched past seasons' laps of honour online so it was special to be there to see it in person. For those of you who think only of football hooligans I have to tell you that I felt completely safe at all times, and part of the community. I occasionally attend Junior A hockey games and truly, the behaviour there is appalling. We had to walk from Anfield back to Liverpool City Centre. It took about an hour. After we got back we went to have dinner at the Irish Pub near our hotel and found most everyone there had been to the match too. There was live Irish music, followed by a pop/rock band. We ended up spending the evening with a couple from Belfast whose family bar hosts the Belfast Liverpool Supporters Club. If they are any indication on how friendly the Irish are, I definitely need to get to Ireland sooner rather than later! I really recommend anyone add Liverpool to their itinerary. Make sure once you get there you try just a little to chat with a local and you will be made very welcome.
I enjoyed your report, Andrea, especially the football match part. My husband and I recently were at our first European football match (Lechia Gdansk at the new-ish PGE Arena) and it was quite the thrilling experience. We'd be interested in going to another one and will have to keep Liverpool on the radar. Thanks for posting!
What an awesome trip report, Andrea! That sounds like so much fun! I was in Liverpool about 10 years ago with my kids, who are big Beatles fans (as are my husband and I). Due to a series of semi-disasters in Chester, we were only in Liverpool for the afternoon and we took the Magical Mystery bus tour too. We all loved it. I was stunned at how nice Liverpool was. Ever since my Beatlemania days in junior high, I had pictured Liverpool as one big slum. But it was quite nice, with some spectacular architecture. The only negative is that the day we were there, the Queen, Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono were all in town for various events. (What are the odds of that?) The city was one giant parking lot. We parked in a lot on the outskirts and walked, which worked out fine.
Angela, we were in Poland in 2004 but didn't go to a match. Maybe next time. Carroll, Liverpool has changed so much since our first visit in 2000! I was showing a new city map to my Scouse friends (I generally watch LFC matches at a pub that is full of ex-pat Scousers) and they were fascinated. Liverpool One, the new pedestrian shopping area, has linked the city to the waterfront without having to go through some creepy areas. The waiter was telling us about another project. There is apparently a bunch of buildings that block a canal and they are opening that up to allow restaurants and entertainment canalside. I don't know where that would be (and my friends couldn't think of where it might be). If anyone out there knows I'd love to hear from you.