Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 205: Top 10 Sights of Liverpool

Is feeling tired while traveling crazy? Of course traveling is exhausting, but even when I got to a new place I noticed I was becoming less and less excited. Traveling is no longer new for me, after 8 months it has become a way of life. Thankfully my host in Porto recommended that I get a flight. Since I've been traveling small distances, town to town, I thought making a big change would rekindle the fire. Fortunately, I was right.

Part of Liverpool's famous Albert Dock.

A flight from Portugal to Liverpool was just the cure I needed – a new culture, climate, and experiences. Being in England is surreal. Spending so long in strange lands, being able to communicate with everyone is odd and liberating. I speak the language (arguably), but culturally I have a lot to learn. Luckily I can drink a beer as good as anyone so I'm practically English already.

RyanAir is great when you don't miss your flight.
No dentures in case of emergency landing.
The sunrise was beautiful but this is how I felt after 4 hours sleep.

I spent first night in Liverpool was spent in the airport. The flight got in late and I didn't see any purpose in paying for a hostel when I could sleep for free with the bums. Unfortunately I only got about 4 hours of sleep because the cafe I was snoozing outside of woke me up at 5. Alive but not awake I got the bus into the center of town and shuffled around like a zombie. I didn't have a CouchSurfing host yet so I camped out at a hostel for the whole day. The staff was extremely friendly and I only felt a little guilty about leeching WIFI and eating their food when I wasn't actually staying there. Not only did I get a blog entry written, but I found a host, a guy named Neil. We had a date at 7:45 on the other side of the Mersey River.

I was happy to help Neil finish building his greenhouse.
I was even happier when he cooked me a 'thank you breakfast'.

From a multitude of museums to its status as the home of the Beatles, Liverpool has a lot to offer. I soaked up some history, friendship... and gravy!

A sister museum to London's famous Tate, Tate Liverpool upholds the family reputation. Constantly muttering "taint," like a 7 year old, I perused its galleries. In addition to the high quality of the art I particularly enjoyed the Tate because I found a lot of inspiration for the show I'll have when I get home. Experiencing the three exhibits took me about 4 hours.

This show was curated by 'Young Tate'.
A spotlight shone on this revolving piece of plastic... neat.
There was a stellar show upstairs with many famous pieces.
I enjoy modern art, mainly for the discussions it provokes.
A view across the Mersey from the Tate.

I learned about the Albert Dock while reading Liverpool's Wikipedia article. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is a large complex of brick warehouses built around a system of docks. When it was built in 1846 it was Britain's first building constructed from solely brick and iron, making it fireproof. Additionally its design allowed ships to be loaded directly from the warehouses, greatly reducing loading time. Unfortunately the dock quickly became outdated with the advent of steam ships and fell into disrepair. Thankfully, today the dock has been restored and is full of posh restaurants and apartments.

These three large warehouses are the Albert Dock.
Liverpool's Eye.
The Pier Head visible from the dock.

Liverpool has enough museums to keep you busy for a week. The Mersyside Maritime Museum is definitely worth a visit. Though I only saw part of the first floor, the museum was full of fascinating information about ocean cruisers like the Titanic and Lusitania along with a large section detailing Britain's involvement in WWI and WWII. I was eager to learn about history from a different country's perspective. I wish I had more time to spend here but they close early, at 5.

All of Liverpool's museums were excellently curated.
The ship builder's original model of the Titanic.
You guessed it, that thing on the right is a depth charge launcher!

What sort of sicko would combine Liverpool's finest concert hall and ball room with its prison? Harvey Lonsdale Elmes, the architect of St. George's Hall. Not only is this neo-classical structure beautiful, but historically fascinating. Although it is the world's first air conditioned building, if you were a prisoner, it wasn't a nice place to be. After your trial in the court room you could be held or tortured before being sent to another prison or shipped to Australia. The concert hall is spacious and beautiful. I imagined myself dancing with the fluffily dressed ladies of the period. What a duality.

My courtroom.
Even prisoners need exercise. 
Who wants to dance?
Pretty sweet stained glass window of a guy slaying a dragon.
St. George's hall, beautifully lit at night.

Liverpudlians, affectionately known as Scousers, derive their name from the mutton and vegetable stew, scouse. Perhaps you've realized I enjoy eating and if there's a dish so famous a whole area of people are named after it, I must try it. Unfortunately I didn't try scouse till right before I left and I was looking for it after 5, which is when a lot of the small cafes that serve it close. Thankfully I found some meat pies and remnants of scouse at a small bar called the Baltic Fleet. Be sure to wash it down with one of their craft beers.

The staff and locals were friendly. I felt like a regular.
I ordered two meat pies (one cheese one pork) along with their summer ale.
I mentioned that gravy would be good on top so she scoused me.

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