Back in February, I took a trip up North to Liverpool for my first time. I didn’t have many expectations, but what a great few days I had! After checking-in to a lovely apartment in the city centre, we were keen to get exploring. One thing I noticed almost immediately was how small the city seemed. Being used to the vast urban maze that is London, I forget how compact most cities are in comparison (honestly, Google UK cities by urban area and you’ll see what I mean). With the inevitability of spending half your time (slight exaggeration) on public transport when in London, it was great to be able to easily walk from place to place in Liverpool. So my first tip is: don’t waste money on buses or taxis, get walking and soak up the vibrant ambiance. Read on for some of my trip highlights!
The Old and The New
Our first stop was Liverpool Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the UK and fifth largest in the world. Now, having been travelling round Europe, I have seen my fair share of churches, cathedrals and basilicas, with the likes of St Peter’s Basilica (Vatican City) and La Segrada Familia (Gaudi’s Cathedral – Barcelona) at the top of the list. Despite having seen these aritechtural masterpieces, Liverpool Cathedral definitely impressed me. As expected, the first thing that captures your attention is the size, then immediately followed by a huge pink neon sign on your right as you walk in. This unique feature gives a modern twist to a historical building that you will either love or hate. I loved it. The words on the sign read ‘I felt you and I knew you loved me’ and was created by the artist Tracey Emin. Sat beneath an extraordinary stained glass window that covers 1600 square foot, you won’t be able to stop yourself from taking a picture of where a classical religious design meets a contemporary vision. There are also many beautiful chapels to explore and countless plaques and information to read. Liverpool Cathedral is a definite cultural must-do.
Afterwards, we walked down the road to the other cathedral in the city; Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. This couldn’t have been more different to its neighbour. Modern in design and feel, the interior is predominately marble which is illuminated in fluorescent blue, red and purple hues. If you see one cathedral, make sure you take the short walk to the other. The juxtaposition between them is reason enough, and is an intriguing insight into the development of religious architectural design over the years.
Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey
I love playing tourist, so an informative ferry ride on the River Mersey was right up my street. Not only do you experience great views of the World Heritage Waterfront, but you can also hop off at two different points during the circular route. We did just this at the second stop, as here you can visit the U-Boat Story museum (included in ferry ticket price) and see one of only four preserved German U-boats in the world.
Walker Art Gallery
After the slightly chilly boat ride (it was February after all), we took refuge in the warmth of the Walker Art Gallery, which showcases art from as far back as the 13th century and all the way up until the modern day. My highlights include the sculpture gallery; a room filled with white marble masterpieces. The sheer amount of grandeur in one space is breathtaking, but be prepared for a lot of naked statues. Maybe skip this one if you have kids or an immature sense of humour. A second highlight was the modern and contemporary art gallery, which holds special, temporary installations by the Arts Council Collection. My neon sign obsession was fed once again with the simple, yet eye-catching, piece titled ‘Friendly Name for a Fool’ by Joe Fletcher Orr. Walking through a pitch black room where the only light came from a projector screen showing a wincing bald man interlaced with giant florescent splodges (seriously), led you to the installation KAPUT by Benedict Drew. This utterly unique exhibition ponders the subject of space tourism and puts Richard Branson in the spotlight. With alien-like imagery and even more florescent colours, I didn’t really know what to make of it. See picture below, this one’s open for interpretation.
I don’t care if you’re not a Beatles fan, visiting The Cavern Club should be on your list if you’re a Liverpool novice, for the simple fact it was the birthplace of a band who went on to change the face of music, were at the forefront of the new cultural age, and have since created a legacy that is exceeded by very few, if by any. Hopefully, you do like at least one of their songs and can show appreciation for what they achieved. The Beatles aside, The Cavern Club is a quirky underground bar with a casual and friendly feel that showcases live acts on a daily basis from mid-afternoon into the night. So even if you stop by on a Tuesday, you’ll be greeted by an electric atmosphere and Scouse accents that make you feel like a regular. If you want the ultimate Cavern experience, I would recommend going on a Thursday or Sunday night, where the resident Beatles tribute band, Made in Liverpool, put on their show. This is the closest you will come to actually being there at a Beatles gig back in the early 60s. The intimate setting was filled with all ages from all over the world. A lively group of Spanish folk were dancing beneath the vintage guitars and 60s style wigs, occasionally stopping to chat to the band between songs. A local lad who stood to the side of the stage, a 21 badge pinned to his t-shirt, was given a special birthday shoutout and thanked for being there every week. Songs, first sung between those walls over 50 years ago, still move and unite people as if hearing them for the first time. A truly unique experience.