It's Sod's Law isn't it?I was to catch the train at 9:37 to meet a friend in Liverpool. I got off the bus at the main bus terminal in the city centre and the heavens opened and I got wet. I hurried along to the train station. Long queues! I got aday return ticket but the platform was way at the back, up and over a walkway. I got to the platform to see a train, my watch indicating it was 38 seconds before departure so I hopped on and found a seat.
10 minutes after the train pulled out, the conductor inspected my ticket. He frowned. I'm on the wrong train! Well.. you *can* get to Liverpool but you'll have to change at Wigan! Wigan???!!! That's not all, apparently I also have to change train STATIONS! Later on when I checked my notebook I had written down that the train should be green and say something about a Central line on it. Which this one wasn't and didn't. I HATE being late when there's someone waiting for me at the other end!!! It's 2001 and mobile phones aren't standard yet and neither of us have one.
I had 20 minutes to run across to the other station. I tried calling from a pay phone but of course he already left for Lime Street. The damp clothing wasn't the only thing causing steam to rise off my body! Nobody's fault of course. Right platform, correct time and there was a train ready to leave. No reason to ask someone if it was the right train and if I had, sod's law again would have come into play and it would have been the right train and by stopping to ask, it would have left without me. That actually would have been preferable as trains to Liverpool were 3 or 4 an hour and I wouldn't have been that late arriving.
This little detour made me 45 minutes late arriving though I knew he wouldn't leave the station without me. He didn't and I was so glad to see him but I was tired, grumpy, damp, stressed and hungry. The first thing I needed to do was get fed and watered so we landed in a cafe near the train station for a sandwich and cup of tea. We got caught up on our news and decided what our plan of action would be. I've never been to Liverpool, a large port city that has been the gateway to thousands of emigrants over the years, many of whom landed by sea in Halifax on their first stop to their new home in Canada.
The waterfront in Liverpool has been restored into a large tourist complex called Albert Dock. We headed there first and our attention was taken by a city tour that you can take in an old WWII amphibian vehicle that drives you around the city then splashes down in the waters around the docks. It doesn't go out on to the Mersey River which was a blessing today because the waters of the gray Mersey River were very choppy though at least it wasn't raining here.
We bought our tickets for the Liverpool Duck tour which didn't leave for about 30 minutes and had a browse through the souvenir shops in the Dock complex. Liverpool is the home of the Beatles so there's lots of souvenirs relating to the Fab Four. I like the Beatles well enough I suppose but I'm not a particular fan. I was more interested in seeing the city itself, the buildings, the atmosphere.
The Duck tour takes about 1 hour to drive around the city, with an audio broadcast of the history of the city and interesting points. The city centre is fairly compact and the architecture of Liverpool is really beautiful. There was a lot of bomb damage here during WWII but it seems like a lot of the buildings still survived. Arriving back at the Dock for the water journey, the co-captain took the microphone for some live commentary. He was very good and had an ironic and droll sense of humour.
Next, a walk for a closer look at some of the buildings and tourist attractions. There are three huge buildings on the waterfront, the most famous being the Royal Liver (pronounced Lie-ver) Building, an insurance company. This was built around 1907. The corners are topped with 2 18-foot 'Liver' birds based probably on cormorants. The other two buildings are the Cunard building and the Port of Liverpool and together they are known as the Three Graces. We went inland away from the waterfront past the Victoria memorial that is on the spot where Liverpool Castle used to stand.
I thought that I might as well have a look-see down Matthew street, where the Cavern Club was. On the way I spied a small building on a small narrow street leading off the one we were on. It was painted yellow and had timbers on the outside and looked interesting enough to run across the street and investigate.
We discovered an old inn, now a pub, with a 1726 date on the building and it was called Ye Hole in Ye Wall. The street is called Hackin's Hey and is one of the oldest streets in Liverpool. No question about it, I HAD to have a drink in a pub with a name like that so in we went. Low ceilings, lots of wood and comfortable chairs. It looked and felt old aside from a television behind the bar and a radio on but the atmosphere wasn't one of a tarted up pub decorated in an old-looking style for the tourists. This seemed like the genuine article. The irony of it all was that the pub is built on the spot where an old Quaker meeting house once stood!
Off we go again to admire the buildings, always looking up to see the detailing on the eaves and windows. We go down Matthew Street, a narrow cobbled pedestrian street that is strewn with Beatles' shops, statues and posters. The Cavern Club that stands today is not the original where they played. Across the lane is a wall of fame consisting of bricks with names of hundreds of artists that played in the Cavern Club over its nearly 40 year history. That was something I did find interesting.
There is also a life sized statue of John Lennon leaning against a post. One must succumb to the temptation of posing similarly beside it for a photo! My one concession to Beatlemania. We didn't go for a drink down in the Cavern Club and I didn't bother shopping for Beatles souvenirs nor did I take a photo of the lonely looking sculpture of Eleanor Rigby on a bench around the corner.
There is another cluster of large stately buildings around a square reminiscent of Trafalgar Square, with a fountain and column in the center topped with a statue, this one representing the Duke of Wellington. There is the mid Victorian (1854) St. George's Hall which is definitely worth a look into and another pillared building, circa 1860, with a sweeping staircase houses the Liverpool Museum. There's the circular Picton library and reading room dating from 1879 and the Walker Art Gallery in a building constructed in 1887. It's clouded over so the granite buildings look particularly imposing. The wind is blowing the water from the fountain off in one direction and we can feel the cold spray even though we avoid walking downwind of it. There really isn't time to go look inside all the buildings nor spend time browsing the gallery this trip. It will have to be saved for another time.
It's been a long time since we ate so Phil took me to a Chinese restaurant on Hanover Street, the Golden Phoenix where we took advantage of a 3 course fixed price 'lunch' that they stopped serving at 5 p.m. every day. We got there just under the wire.
After our meal we walked up to the huge Anglican Cathedral, the largest of it's kind in the world and 5th largest cathedral of any denomination. This cathedral was built over most of the 20th C. and was finished about 30 years ago. Unfortunately it was after 6 and closed to the public. The stained glass, judging from what I could tell from the outside, looked like it would be very intricate.
We stopped to admire the new arch on the street that leads into Liverpool's small Chinatown district. Liverpool actually had a large Chinatown for many years, immigrants there working at the port but it's shrunk in size and there is now a larger Chinatown in Manchester. We walked along an elegant row of Georgian houses on Rodney Street on our way back to the train station. I made sure Phil directed me to the right train this time and with hugs and kisses I took my leave.