This weekend, I woke up supremely early on a Sunday morning to board a National Express coach bus for a 34-hour excursion. Destination: Liverpool.
To be honest, although visiting the birthplace of the Beatles would have been reason enough to visit, this Northern England city was never really on my target map of places I wanted to see during my time here. But when the Radio Times travel editor offered me an opportunity to do a press visit and stay at a movie-themed hotel for a review, I jumped at the chance to take a semi-spontaneous excursion up north. Just a five-hour coach ride away (thanks, National Express), I noticed some key differences between London and Liverpool during my 22-hour visit. If you’re ever considering making the journey, here are some observations you might stumble across as well.
Similarity: An abundance of attractions
Before I actually got to Liverpool (and even while I was there), I felt a little unprepared as far as what to actually do once I hopped off the bus. The most research I had done about what to do and see in the city was to visit the city’s tourist home page and take a quick glance at some of the museums. In fact, the area where the coach station is located, although only a 10-minute walk from the city center, seemed to drop me in the middle of nowhere. But once I gathered my bearings and made it to some of the main streets, I was happily greeted by loads of museums, libraries, beautiful government buildings, restaurants, scenic areas along the docks and, of course, shopping. Everything was pretty much within walking distance, and since it was a beautiful and sunny day, there were good numbers of crowds bustling about in the downtown area.
Don’t get me wrong — I love where I live in London and am so fortunate to be in such a central and coveted location. That said, I also have to mention that for the third time in my life, I’m sharing a bedroom with another person for an extended period of time. Oh yes, moving to London was almost a time travel experience to freshman year of college and sharing a room with twin size beds. I live with a total of four other girls and, despite having a roomy flat, there are times that territories begin to overlap (take the refrigerator, for example).
Upon checkin to my room at Signature Living, I was offered a complimentary cocktail and then whisked away to my Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed room complete with three plushy double beds, an arrangement of several luxurious couches and armchairs, a full-service kitchen and a bathroom with a chandelier and jetted tub. The huge room with tall windows, high-gloss furnishings and view overlooking the city center was all mine for the night. Let’s just say that I took advantage of the space and comfort.
Similarity: Royal baby fever
With Kate’s official due date of July 13 come and gone, royal baby fever has been kicked into high gear. After all the shops in the center had closed down, I took a walk and noticed some extra decor that peppered the dusky skyline.
Difference: Architecture and landscape
Then again, other than evidence of royal baby watch, the actual setting of Liverpool as far as what I saw was a stark contrast to what I’m used to seeing around London. The center itself is very much a modern, glossy, up-and-coming part of town, and the buildings show it. There were plenty of remnants of a more historic Liverpool in its cathedrals, statues and memorials, docks and the iconic Royal Liver Building, but there were many more angular and contemporary styled buildings within the same line of sight. This is also generally true of London, but in Liverpool the mixing of old and new seemed more condense while at the same time more spacious and open. Whereas sometimes London can feel a bit overcrowded and claustrophobic, especially now that the summer heat is sinking in, Liverpool was a breath of fresh air (literally, being so close to the water) and just seemed more free to move around.
Similarity: View of American eating habits
Why yes, we as a nation are represented in this store through sugary cereals, slushies and giant lollipops. No further explanation needed.
If you know one thing about Liverpool other than it being the origin of the Beatles, it’s that it also produces one of the most distinct (and kind of incomprehensible) English accents ever. I thought I had gotten a bit more accustomed to the rhythms and slants of the accent, but visiting and hearing Liverpool was an entirely different world.
Even though I felt inept at the number of times I had to ask someone to repeat something for me, they did seem to say “love” a lot more. As in, “No problem, love.” And that made the accent all the more endearing.
Other than noticiting these things about the city, I fully enjoyed my short trip up to Liverpool. I was able to meet Sapna and her younger sister and spend much of Sunday evening with them. A little unexpectedly for a city, many things around Liverpool closed around 5 or 6 that night, but that meant we had time to explore some of the docks and souvenir shops. We even ended up catching a late showing of something we had all been waiting for all summer: Despicable Me 2. Hey, it’s the little things.
But it’s also the big things, like taking a stroll down the streets outside the Cavern Club, the site of the Beatles’ first gig as a band. Even though I only had 22 hours to experience as much as Liverpool as possible on a Sunday evening, I fully enjoyed my visit and would love to return at some point. I mean, I never did make it out to Penny Lane, so maybe I’ll have to make a more complete list of things to do in Liverpool.