48 Hours in Liverpool
Last month, I celebrated another anniversary of living in the UK (31 years!). In all that time, one place I always wanted to spend some time in was Liverpool. To be honest, I knew very little about the city – apart from the fact that the Beatles and some of my favourite 80s music acts came out of there. (More on that later).
Recently, I was lucky enough to spend 48 hours in Liverpool celebrating the 4th of July!
Arriving at Liverpool
On a Sunday morning, I took the train down from Glasgow Central. It was overcrowded and delayed, so I missed my connecting train at Wigan North West, but an hour later I arrived in Liverpool. The good thing about delays on trains is that you are entitled to delay compensation, and I got my outward journey reimbursed entirely.
When going to Liverpool by rail, you may end up at a few different stations, but most likely Liverpool Lime Street. It is the largest of Liverpool’s stations, dating back to 1836. It’s super central, easily accessible, and boasts an underground station in addition to its mainline transport.
Staying at the Resident
My friend Jayne had already booked her accommodation at the Resident, Liverpool, so to make things easy, I signed up for their loyalty program and booked directly. According to the program, I was supposed to be able to check in two hours early and receive a complimentary upgrade. However, even though I arrived an hour early, my room wasn’t ready, which was mildly disappointing. Nonetheless, I did eventually get the upgrade, and the room turned out to be nice.
The Resident also offered the convenience of allowing me to leave my bag both before check-in and after check-out. The staff was helpful, and they had several affiliations with local restaurants that entitled me to discounts.
Bold Street Coffee
One such recommendation was Bold Street Coffee, so I headed straight there while my room was being prepared. I went in, ordered my food, showed my card, and received 10% off my meal. I ordered an egg, a slice of toast, hashed browns, and a pot of tea – all for less than a tenner.
Honestly, it was maybe one of the best wee brunches I’ve had in years. I mean, it was so good that I event went back again two days later with Jayne!
On the Waterfront Pier Head
Having done research prior to departing Glasgow, I knew there was an outdoor music festival that weekend with the final band being James. Having enjoyed James’ music for over thirty-five years now, I was definitely tempted to attend.
The Coral and Red Rum Club were scheduled to perform before them. I decided to wander down early to see if I could get close enough to hear the bands without actually having to pay for a ticket. I managed to catch some of Red Rum Club’s performance, and they sounded great.
However, with rain looming, gusty winds, and a hungry tummy, I decided to bail before the Coral took the stage. Kind of sad I missed them to be honest as I really like their catchy tunes…
Pizza on Bold Street
As I’d passed a pizza joint earlier, I went to pick up a slice of cheese pizza and a coke. It was called American Pizza Slice, and rather fortuitously, it turned out to be nice, simple, and quick, which was perfect.
Absolutely adored the ceiling of the joint, adorned with posters of bands such as Linkin Park, Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground, Zappa, John Lennon, and Rage Against the Machine, to name but a few.
As each minute passed, I really started to love this musical city more and more…
After finishing my slice, I was starting to feel really tired, so I headed back to my room for a rest. I FaceTimed my friend for a chat and debated whether to go see James.
Eventually, I mustered up enough energy to walk back down and catch a glimpse of James from the steps of the Liverpool Museum. Despite being far away, the band sounded good, and I could still enjoy their performance. Along with other music lovers around me, I had a bit of a boogie to songs like “Born of Frustration,” “Laid,” and “Sit Down.”
Unfortunately, my favourite song, “Crescendo“, wasn’t played, but I suppose it’s not exactly a festival type track.
To wrap up my first night in Liverpool, I ended up watching a documentary about Jimi Hendrix on BBC2.
The Start of Day 2 in Liverpool
The next morning, I had a leftover cinnamon roll from my journey down and a cup of tea before heading to the Royal Albert Dock. I had seen that there was a Turner exhibit at the Tate Gallery. The Tate Gallery offers free entry, but for the JMW Turner & Lamin Fofana: Dark Waters exhibit, there was a £10 admission fee. (It’s on until Sept 2023)
Although I had never heard of Lamin Fofana, I have liked Turner’s paintings since my first trip to London in 1987, so I thought, “Why not?” Honestly, I didn’t love the exhibit, but I also wasn’t sorry I went to see it. At one point, the music (referred to as “immersive sound”) combined with the art made me well up with tears. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so moved at an exhibition, so that was truly one for the books.
Lunch at Byron
While researching Mac & Cheese in Liverpool, I learned that Byron was a good place to find some. I popped in, waited ages to order. In addition to the Mac & Cheese, I ordered some tater tots and root beer.
Unfortunately, the root beer wasn’t too great, and the M&C turned out to be rather bland. However, the tots were tops. The service was ridiculously slow, so I’m not sure I’d recommend this place to any fellow travellers. It was adequate,…just.
Liverpool from Above
Liverpool Tower, also known as St. John’s Beacon or the Radio City Tower, was a must-visit for me as a radio enthusiast. I took the elevator 400 feet above the city to enjoy the breathtaking view. Although the radio station no longer broadcasts from the tower, it was still worth a visit.
With perfect weather, I leisurely enjoyed my time there, capturing impressive views of the Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool and the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.
The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, officially known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King and locally nicknamed “Paddy’s Wigwam” (via wikipedia), is an astonishing sight. Despite being younger than me, it carries a timeless charm that stands out prominently among its surroundings.
At 207 yards, Liverpool Cathedral holds the record for being the longest cathedral in the world, and it’s also one of the tallest non-spired church buildings globally. Again via Wikipedia)
One of the main reasons for my trip to Liverpool was to finally meet up with Jayne, who was arriving from New York via London. Jayne is not just any friend, but a lively member of Lassocon community, always joining us for our fun Sunday Night Clubhouse chats.
When she stepped off the train, I eagerly greeted her and gladly helped her haul her luggage to our hotel. After taking a moment to catch our breath, we were ready to hit the streets and embark on our exciting city adventure together!
First Stop,…Mathew Street
Mathew Street is undoubtedly one of Liverpool’s most renowned and vibrant streets. I was pleasantly surprised by its fame when I arrived. While I didn’t make it into the iconic Cavern Club this time around (maybe next time!), I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the nearby building that once hosted other legendary bands (check out the picture!).
Our next stop was the Hard Days Night Hotel, where we indulged in a refreshing drink at the bar. The Hard Days Night Hotel proudly holds the title of being the world’s only Beatles-inspired hotel, offering top-notch amenities in a truly one-of-a-kind setting (according to its website).
As I gazed across the street, a smile formed on my face. There it was—Smith’s Cavern, boldly promoting Irn Bru. How could I resist capturing a snapshot from the bar? It was a moment of pure delight.
Albert Docks Once More
When it was time for dinner, we set off on a leisurely stroll down to the dock, eagerly anticipating a classic fish and chip meal. However, to our disappointment, the fish and chip shop we had in mind was unexpectedly closed.
Determined to satisfy our craving, we improvised and ended up indulging in a delightful fish and chips feast at the charming Smuggler’s Cove instead.
After our satisfying meal, we continued our explorations around the docks, taking in the picturesque views, until we felt a little space left for a delectable dessert.
As we meandered further, our sweet tooth beckoned us to Heavenly Desserts near Liverpool One. And let me tell you, there’s always room for a heavenly scoop of ice cream or a decadent dessert, am I right?
Day 3 (For Me) – 4th of July
We still had a lot of ground we wanted to cover before Jayne’s 2:30pm train back to London. Feeling hungry, we decided to grab some breakfast at the docks while also securing tickets for the City Sights Beatles tour, which included a Hop-on Hop-off Bus ticket for £18.
We hopped on the first Beatles tour with our fantastic guide, Chris, who not only provided entertaining commentary but also had a unique talent for photobombing all the pictures he took (quite clever, isn’t it?).
On this particular tour, you’ll traverse the city and visit two notable photo spots: “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields”.
Along the way, you’ll pass by John Lennon’s childhood home and have a brief stop at the end of Paul McCartney’s street. While you have the option to take a National Trust tour to explore these homes in depth, considering our limited time in Liverpool, it didn’t seem practical.
However, I highly recommend our tour as it offers a delightful and entertaining way to explore the city while learning fascinating facts about it.
Beatles Statue, Pier Head
Due to the aforementioned festival, the Beatles bus tour was unable to include the Beatles statue at Pier Head. Undeterred, we decided to make our way there on foot to capture the obligatory shots with the Fab 4.
Understandably, it was quite crowded around the statue, but we managed to snap a few pictures before making our way back up to Bold Street. It was the perfect moment to introduce Jayne to the delectable delights of Bold Street Coffee. Sticking with what I knew, I ordered my previous meal once again, while Jayne opted for the tempting choice of French Toast.
Jayne’s Departs, I Explore S’more
Soon after lunch, it was time for Jayne to hop in her Uber to Liverpool Lime Street. I, somewhat foolishly, had booked a 7:49pm departure, which left me with five hours to kill in the city. I have no idea what I was thinking when I booked such a late return, but I decided to make the most of it.
Returning to the Albert Docks, I hopped on the hop-on-hop-off bus for another tour around the city. During this tour, I delved deeper into Liverpool’s history, learned fascinating tidbits, and marvelled at its architectural wonders. A prime example of its uniqueness was the Chinatown Gate on Nelson Street.
I probably should have hopped off at one of the cathedrals, but I just stayed on the whole time.
Possibly my favourite part of Liverpool, much to my surprise, was the Liverpool Museum. I thoroughly enjoyed this place. I could have easily spent more time there, but I arrived late in the day, not too long before closing time.
The museum featured fantastic exhibits on cinema, music, and football. I especially relished the music quizzes on touchscreen displays, and being the music aficionado that I am, I didn’t do too badly.
Ed note: Do you like music quizzes? Swing by my selection of activity and quiz books.
The Liverpool Cityscape – Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson’s The Liverpool Cityscape captured my attention for a considerable amount of time. There is an audio track available that guides you through the process of creating this remarkable and stunning artwork. It took three years for Ben, his team and 43 assistants to create this gem. I had hoped to bring home at least a postcard, if not a print, of it.
Unfortunately, nae luck. I’d definitely love to have a framed print of that extraordinary masterpiece.
Once ejected from the museum, I wandered slowly up through Liverpool One (shopping centre) to Waterstones. I admit, it’s been a long time since I just “hung out” in a book store, but hang I did.
Grabbed myself a tea, purchased a Taylor Jenkins Reid book and sat and read for awhile. These days I prefer audiobooks or even Kindle, but sometimes there’s nothing quite like just reading a physical book, right? Thankfully I am enjoying it so far and I am now about halfway through.
Sadly I didn’t have time to sit and wait for the event that was taking place at 6:30 with two authors. It would have been nice to stick around, had I a bit more time…
On the walk back to Liverpool Lime Street, I clocked a bright yellow Elvis Costello mural above 81 Renshaw Record Store/Label. I took a photo, walked down the street, and when I was about to take another picture of a building, I realized it was set on portrait mode, and therefore my Elvis pic had not come out. I had to walk two blocks back up the street just to get a clearer shot of Mr. Costello. Worth it, I think.”
Train to Glasgow
I arrived very early to catch my 7:49 train to Wigan, only to learn it was cancelled. Thankfully, there was an earlier train that I could just make. I hopped on the earlier train and made it to Wigan North Western with time to kill. The train ride back was smooth sailing, and I even made it to the underground before it shut, so I call that a win.
A Travel Break
After several years of no travel, I feel I’ve made up for it in 2023. Having completed six trips in as many months (London three times, Lismore, Aberdeen, and Liverpool), it’s time to take a travel break for the summer. I truly loved Liverpool and hope to return to the city before too long. There was good food, fantastic architecture, shopping, and culture too. There is truly something for everyone…
Have you been to Liverpool? I’d love to know your thoughts.