Tuesday & Wednesday, May 10-11, 2011
Liverpool was a non-negotiable part of our itinerary. Not only was Dale a Liverpool FC fan, but Jerome and I were also very excited to see Anfield
and Steven Gerrard even if we were Gooners to our very cores.
I also couldn’t forgive myself if I went to Liverpool and didn’t have a Beatles-themed tour. I’ve prepared for this early on, printing 2-for-1 vouchers for both the Anfield tour and the Beatles tour. To save money, we also got the Super Offpeak train tickets, which meant we can only depart at a certain time. We knew that. However, what we didn’t know was that the Super Offpeak tickets were only valid for London Midland Trains. This naivete would start a series of sitcom-worthy events starting with…
Accidentally tricking the system.
Nobody really checked our tickets as we boarded a bright red, express Virgin Train leaving within the alloted Super Offpeak hours, so we didn’t think much of it. I guess it was around the time we were passing two or three London Midland trains along the way that we got a bit suspicious. We were making good time, much, much less than the 4-5 hours we estimated for this travel.
With a sinking feeling, we checked our tickets, the brochure, etc and proved that we were indeed on the wrong train. The good news is, it was the better train. Bad news: What if we got caught? Should we plead “No hablo Ingles”? How much are they going to fine us? They wouldn’t kick us out of the train… would they?
Thankfully, we got off the train, walked as confidently as we can out of the station and we didn’t get caught. Relieved and giddy, we went to some sort of tourist center to get our itineraries straightened out and to buy bus tickets. The tickets were kind of cool, they were these scratch card kind of things. One more thing to note: I have no problem understanding what I call “Harry Potter” English. But Scouse English is a bit of a challenge (Carragher videos notwithstanding). It was a test on how many “Come again?” you can ask before you come across as rude.
Our first stop was Anfield, home of Liverpool FC, a stadium with more history than Man City, Tottenham and Chelsea combined. We got there a bit earlier than our scheduled tour so we ate lunch at this little place near the stadium. It had drawings on the wall of famous Liverpool players, Istanbul 2005, and this very interesting caricature right here:
Then it was time for the stadium tour. Anfield was incredible, though a bit outdated compared to the Emirates ( I couldn’t help comparing how state-of-the-art the dressing room at the Emirates was compared to the one in Anfield). The tour guide said there are plans of expanding, or even moving the stadium, kinda like what Arsenal did when it switched from Highbury to the Emirates. I know a lot of die-hard fans would be upset about this, but I get it, Anfield isn’t netting as much in ticket sales as the bigger stadiums and as I said, it’s a bit outdated. Well, personally, at least I got to see it before they moved. I couldn’t say the same about Highbury. 😦
The magic moments for me were 1) when I touched the “This Is Anfield” sign and 2) when “You’ll Never Walk Alone” blared through the speakers when we were seated on the pitch-side. Full disclosure: It was more of a “Ha! I got to touch it, bitches!” feeling on the first one, unlike the emotional attachment on everything during the Emirates tour. But admittedly, the second one was sort of emotional. However intimidatingly intense LFC fans are, when they sing the song, it’s fantastic.
There were two key things we didn’t get to do that I still regret before going to sleep: Have our pic taken in front of the Shankly Gates and visit the Hillsborough memorial. We didn’t forget, exactly. We spent too much time in the museum (I just had to finish the documentary on the 2005 CL win in Istanbul) and I was afraid we wouldn’t make it in time for the Beatles tour. Sometimes I think it’s my fault because I was the most gung-ho on the Beatles thing. (But it’s the Beatles! THE Beatles!)
The Beatles Museum, Albert Dock
We took a bus from Anfield to The Beatles Museum at the Albert Dock and made it in time for the last call. The Beatles and some of their songs are as familiar to me as the nursery rhymes of my childhoof but clearly, there are a lot of things I didn’t know about them. The museum was incredibly informative, and also fun. It also made an effort to be enjoyable to both adults and kids. Since I was a little of both, I especially enjoyed it. Is it an exaggeration to say these four lads from Liverpool changed the world? I think not. Is there another band with more influence on the music scene that the Beatles? Not really.
So who’s my favorite? I have to say John Lennon, mostly for the song, “Imagine”. Though Sir Paul McCartney was quite the hottie when they were younger. WHEN THEY WERE YOUNGER, OKAY?
After the museum at Albert Dock, there was supposedly a part 2 at Pier Head, but I knew we wouldn’t be able to make it. It was too bad, but we did get to hang out at the Beatles-themed Starbucks at the Albert Dock. That was majorly wicked! It probably is the coolest Starbucks store in the world right now.
Pier Head and Liverpool High Street
After Beatlemania, we took a lot of pictures around the beautiful city. We still went to Pier Head for sightseeing and to take a
few lot of pictures, especially of the Liver bird. There was a viewing dock which had a view of… I really have no idea. It could be Isle of Man, or it could be another part of Liverpool. When we were there, a lot of city improvements were being done, maybe in preparation for the 2012 Olympics, but it was still glorious. The architecture was beautiful in some of the buildings. We wandered around the high street in hopes of seeing Alex Gerrard or some other WAG shopping, but no such luck!
Since we are never not hungry, we decided to eat at some fish and chips shop near Liverpool ONE. It was not as good as the fish and chips shop in Greenwich. Then we had a couple of drinks at a Wetherspoon pub. I forgot what it was called but it had nicer restrooms than the ones in London.
Missing the train home and the worst hotel experience
It was a bright, sunshiny day and we took our sweet time around the city. This was a mistake because we missed the last train going back to London. After a few minutes of panicking, we decided to ask a couple of traffic cops (one of which was a cutiepie who I thought was going to offer us his house) if there are bus stations which have late trips back to London. We were directed to one such station, but we soon found out that riding a bus to London took a very long time and was more expensive that if we stayed the night in Liverpool.
So, we decided to stay the night in the city… somewhere near the train station so we wouldn’t miss the first train out. Sounds like a good plan, right?
NOPE. We found a cheap hotel near the station, but it turns out there was a reason it was cheap. There were bedbugs. Dale was the first one to realize this while Jerome and I didn’t feel anything throughout the night. Unfortunately, there was no denying it once we threw back the sheets in the morning and saw very well fed bugs. Disgusting! And bedbug bites don’t appear instantly so I thought I was safe until we were back in London, where the itching and swelling were exacerbated by the high alcohol content on the cider we drank (no scientific basis, but that’s when they really started to show). Bedbug bites also lasts weeks before they disappear, and you get a paranoia that wouldn’t go away even after the marks are long gone.
Bedbug experience aside, I am determined to go back to Liverpool for the following reasons:
- Picture at the Shankly gates and to visit the Hillsborough Memorial
- Part II of the Beatles Tour at the Pier Head
- Cavern Club
- Hard Days Night Hotel – a Beatles-themed hotel where I’m sure there are no bedbugs
- I have to replace the Steven Gerrard water bottle I lost at the airport