I <3 LIVERPOOL
Monday May 24, 2010
Summer is most definitely coming if not considered here already in the more southern areas of the U.K. It’s actually a bit surprising considering my sweater and wool jacket clad self only a week ago in Ireland and a few weeks ago in Orkney. I am really enjoying it though and today was able to leave without an ounce of fear that it would rain or be too chilly
About today then for my dear friends and family. Today I slept in trying to fix my sleep deprivation and a cold that is starting to take hold again, and in fact it helped a lot. I then had some complimentary breakfast from the hostel and enjoyed the live guitar music one of the other guests was playing. After food I then called British Airways and successfully rebooked my fight for the 19th due to the lovely air strike. Yes folks I am staying a bit longer and I have a few reasons, 1) British Airways is having a worker strike that is supposed to go on for at least until the 9th if not longer. So I wanted to try and guarantee I get home and if there is a problem I wanted to have something planned so I’m not twiddling my thumbs in the somewhat expensive London. 2) I lost a week due to the ash cloud (of course this was fine but I wanted more time) 3) The Scottish boy talked me into seeing him again before going to the States. I must say I really do love Edinburgh and the North Berwick and Dunbar areas, so I am delighted to be going back again. Well onto my day’s adventures after I have yet again set off the gossip mill.
Anyway, Liverpool is being marked up there as a favorite city because it’s simply so friendly and fun and really beautiful. It’s not as dramatic as say Edinburgh or as massive as say London or Dublin, but it has a lot for it’s small size. There are of course many suburbs so the entire size of “Liverpool” is much bigger but where all the shopping and sights is really manageable. I started my day with a stroll by Liverpool Cathedral for some photos and then went on to Albert dock where the two main museums of the city are. The Beatles Story and the Maritime Museum of Liverpool. I of course went to both starting with the fact filled and step back in time that I got from the Beatles Story. It’s all done in the basement of a large complex of shops and restaurants. The whole museum if like walking into a time capsule of the early 1960’s complete with reconstructions of the Cavern Club, Casbah, abbey road studios and a yellow submarine! It came with complimentary audio guide narrated by John Lennon’s sister, Sir Paul McCartney, and many other who knew and influenced The Beatles. I absolutely loved this exhibit even though I knew a lot of the facts and information that was said it was still so much fun! I think I spent over two hours wandering around just about skipping around I was so joyous! I really appreciated not only the in depth narrations and posters but the great amount of rare music playing throughout the exhibit of them and many others that influenced them such as Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. Then there was at the beginning of the exhibit music playing of skiffle bands that were early influences on especially John who started a skiffle band. The skiffle band then began to have Paul and George that would later became the Beatles. I thought the cute touch was the reconstruction of the Sgt. Peppers Album with cutouts like from the original photo shoot, and then the Yellow Submarine which you could walk through with funky mirrors and fish tanks. The final touch was an elaborate memorial to John Lennon and then small cells chronicling their solo careers and extra influences on the world. After my visit to the gift shop and buying a couple patches for my travel jacket back home I was off to the Maritime Museum.
The maritime museum was a grand and large display that I was extremely pleased with! I worked my way up from the bottom floor to the very top. The museum annexed basically the entire history of Liverpool as a port city. I started with the ground floor about how Liverpool was affected and served in the immigration that took place to America or “the New World”. Through the mid 1800’s to early 1900
‘s the train had about 9 million of all of those that immigrated to the States in that time. If I remember correctly the total number was something around 45million total please correct me if I am wrong. In this exhibition I felt the highlight was the reconstructed Victorian Liverpool docks complete with ship hull for those that were the lower class and their horribly uncomfortable and cramped living quarters.
The next exhibit that stood out to me was that on famous passenger ship sinkings such as the Titanic and Lusitania. All of you I’m sure know about Titanic due to the epic drama made about 12 years ago. The Lusitania is not as well regarded and is a bit more tragic in ways because it was brought down by a German torpedo in WWI under the claim that it was aiding in the war with British supplies (there is some evidence that this was true). Still tragedy and loss such as this are always sad regardless of the politics involved. I did enjoy the displays on the ships more than others because it tried to not focus on the tragedy and anguish of the disasters. Instead it focused on the history of the shipping companies and influence that they had, they included some very nice old models that were built by the companies to market their vessels, china plates and cups (including one in Hebrew for kosher food), then a large assortment of posters and advertisements throughout the entire museum of The White Star Line and how much power and money they had over leisure and immigration ships.
Attached to the information on the famous shipping disasters was a large exhibit on sea life through the centuries including folk art, the acceptance of homosexuality, clothing, chores, piracy and many other odds and ends which in my brief skim through I found very educational and informative and a grand attempt on trying to cover all the bases regardless of controversy.
After this part I went up yet another floor to the large and almost main exhibit of the entire museum on Liverpool’s part in the Slave trade. It was a haunting and almost too hard to look through exhibit due to the graphic but much needed videos on the horrors of their treatment and lives. Though I learned a lot in school on and subject and made sure I learned a lot due to my pure interest and hope that by learning we can prevent such things from happening again and this simply added so much more to my knowledge. It really opens your eyes in a powerful and almost painful way to fully sort of feel and touch into what those people must have been through and I really respected the fact that it was not played down because it may be too controversial or hurtful it was there and in your face. It made the viewer pay attention and realize the horrors that existed but it also had information on that this stuff still does exist! Especially with sex trafficking throughout the entire world and it simply could be happening in your backyard!
After this part I went to the more artistic exhibits on sea art, such as paintings of sea vessels going back to the 18th century. I really enjoyed the somewhat homage to the Chinese Community of Liverpool with the large room of photographs taken by one artist during his travels in the 1860’s (sadly I can’t recall his name). They were magnificent accounts of daily life and culture with women in ceremonial costumes and children with original headpieces and wigs. There is something about black and white photography done with film instead of digital that will ALWAYS have a unique and different feel to it and there is nothing one can really change on that.
At this point hunger and feet pain had taken in so I opted to get lunch and found myself at the TATE modern art gallery also located at Albert Dock. I got lunch in their cafe and then entered the free museum simply to find a few pieces by the small handful of modern artists I enjoy. So I went to find some Warhol and Dali. I did succeed at this but sadly their collection has been greatly reduced in recent years so the only Warhol was one of his soup can paintings and there were two pieces of Dali his lobster telephone and another painting that sadly I didn’t recognize and can’t remember the name of. While at the museum I also swung by some sculpture rooms for some food for thought and I did enjoy the room that was on sculpture representing the human form over the last 100 years. Really many of th pieces were simply reflective of their decades and were interesting to look upon and try to find the meaning (some I don’t think had any at all).
After my 15 minute modern art interlude I walked over to see more Beatles sights and the two Beatles memorabilia shops “Hard Days Night Shop” attached to the “Hard Days Night Hotel” and then “The Beatles Shop” which was more pricey antique memorabilia. Along Mathew Street which it boasted itself as being the birthplace of the Beatles! This is mainly due to the Cavern club which at one time existed here until it was destroyed and eventually rebuilt as a tourist attraction. There is also statues of all four Beatles on the Hard Days Night Hotel and then one of John Lennon leaning by the Cavern Bar. Along with those there are wall murals on the hotel, a sign which reads “Beatles Street” and another few signs marking this and that. I would say it’s a must for any fan of The Beatles due to the idea that yes they once were walking around here and playing here and a hug talk of the town and this is where it was all happening in the very early 1960’s in Liverpool. Well it made me grin like the Cheshire cat anyway.
After this little side trip I then went to the Liverpool World Museum which all over the town was advertised as having a sort of real life Egypt attraction. Of course it wasn’t as exciting as all that but it was free and I had an hour before it closed so I briefly skimmed through the museum mostly focusing on the Egypt exhibit, of course they tend to bleed together after a while and are the same but nonetheless there were some nice bits and pieces that were unique.
This I thought would end my sightseeing adventures for the days but after going back to the hostel to get online and take care of a few things I struck up a conversation with a girl working in the hostel who I had met the night before. Her name was Yolanda and she was from Barcelona, Spain and had decided to leave her teaching job at home to come to Liverpool and live for a while for what sounds like a much needed and deserved break. After talking a while she decided she needed to give me a tour of some more sights around the city that I had missed and didn’t know about. She of course knew because on Thursday night they have a free Beatles tour run by one of the owners of the hostel. So I got the Beatles tour Yolanda style! We started out at the Philharmonic Pub which John Lennon used to go to and was quoted as saying the thing he hated about being famous was “….I can’t go and have a pint at the Phil.” due to the fact he probably would me mobbed by fans! This was a beautiful pub with an fancy exterior and mind blowing interior with it’s wood carving, marble, inexpensive pints and comfortable couches to lounge on! Oh, and one has to take a peek into the men’s toilet due to the grand marble tile work covering the entire thing even with details on the urinals! After our half pints of cider we headed off to another place that was very modern and Yolanda had always wanted to but had never been to. The highlight of this for us was a large part of the ceiling was essentially like a giant car sunroof that was kept open during the day and early evenings for the fresh air that indicates summer is almost here! After another half pint it was decided that some food would be nice and a small veggie pizza was ordered. Here’s a side note on British Pizza that I forgot last night, make sure you know what they are putting on it because you may not like it! Mine had corn on it which simply doesn’t quite please me the same way some olives or sun dried tomatoes would! It wasn’t horrible just different so I let it be and ate what I could!
After Pizza Yolanda took me to a memorial I had no idea that it existed, she said “Now we go to the suitcases.” Which at first I thought she was a major lightweight and let’s get her home now! However there was in fact a giant pile of suitcases in the middle of the city! Well now it did have meaning, most of the cases had names on them of famous individuals either from Liverpool or that had been through the city for a time. Right next to the suitcases was the art school John Lennon attended before his fame and band took off it is now a performing art school, very prestigious and very expensive!
Well, after our nightly adventures we arrived back at the hostel a little after midnight and we both crashed from all the walking Liverpool entails, however to have to walk around Liverpool is a history and architecture fans dream and is so enjoyable!
This morning I was up and at it rather late, the check out time was later at this hostel and I only had a few things that I wanted to do before catching the 4:48 train to London which is where I am writing you from.
Yolanda had some work to do at the Library which was right next to the Art Museum, Walker Art Gallery, that I was off to so she walked with me. On the way we were both distracted some by a couple different things, starting with this fascinating indoor market that is in an old and absolutely gorgeous theater! I was very happy they also kept original aspects of the theater such as the wood work and ceiling. Anyway, after finding some amazing good deals on clothing items we carried on and eventually after only one more stop made it to the art gallery. Yolanda then decided to join me in the museum and see more because she’d only ever been there once and very briefly! The main attraction for me was the special temporary exhibit of Toulouse-Lautrec prints which I spent a good half an hour in simply starting deeply into the details and faces that are truly unique to his art. Another exhibit I hit was the permanent section of Medieval and Renaissance art including a larger than life painting of Henry VIII and grand painting of Elizabeth I after she became queen.
To finish up Liverpool for the day I went to Liverpool Cathedral and had a quick walk around. This Cathedral is just massive! It’s essentially done like every other cathedral but the ceiling is so high you just can’t hardly believe it! It’s another grand feat of architecture and a memorial to the men and women that built it!
Well everyone I am now off to London again to see what I want to see. I will be staying with Tim at his apartment that he shares with Sarah for the next few nights before going to see my cousin Angie, her husband and new baby for a few days.
Peace and Love,
Rebecca Robinson The largest ceremonial gate outside of china