Tag Archives: UK 2011

[UK 2011] Museums, Part Deux

Friday, May 13, 2011

As mentioned in my previous post, I had plans to go back to Kensington so I can enjoy the museums there more thoroughly. Dale also went with me to Kensington, but we planned on separate itineraries as his interest in the V&A is as keen as his interest in, say, competitive beard growing.

The first museum on my agenda for that day was the National History Museum. I planned a systematic look on the exhibits I didn’t get to see when I first visited, which were the following:

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[UK 2011] Essex, baby!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Essex is in the northeast of London, around ~50mi away from where we were staying. It wouldn’t be in the itinerary if my Mom hadn’t asked me to meet up with her friend, Tita Camille. She is married to a nice British guy (“Uncle Trev”) who jokingly exclaimed “Those are the funniest couple of girls I’ve seen.” upon seeing Jerome and Dale. Apparently, they were expecting me to be with two girls. Oh well.

With Tita Camille, at her home in Essex.

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[UK 2011] You’ll Never Walk Alone with the Fab Four

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?

Liverpool, finally!

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.

At the Liverpool Lime St Station

Anfield

Anfield, home of Liverpool FC

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:

His armband proved he was a red, Torres, Tores… LOL

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. 😦

Anfield Stadium Tour

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.

Touching the “This Is Anfield” sign, like so many LFC players did/does.

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

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.

Beatlemania!

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?

Imagine…

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.

I forgot what I bought, but it was more expensive than I was used to.

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!

I ♥ Liverpool

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.

Still in Liverpool!

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

[UK 2011] Natural History Museum, The V&A, London Eye, Chinatown and Piccadilly Circus

Monday, May 9, 2011

And then there were three… Pat’s flight back to Manila was that morning, unfortunately. After a lot of long faces and a quick lunch , the three of us set off to the museums in Kensington. Our first stop was the Natural History Museum.

Natural History Museum building. Isn’t it pretty?

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[UK 2011] The night was young, and so are we, but only God can make a tree!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Probably because we were knocked out from the wedding festivities the night before, I don’t remember much of the morning of May 8. I’m sure it involved sleeping in and then heading over to Waitrose or Sainsbury to feed ourselves. I remember going with Pat & Jerome to Primark (a shopper’s haven, my long-distance love, etc) to buy a hand carry bag for Pat while I did a mental checklist of the things I’ll buy there to take home with me.

Meanwhile, Dale went to a farmers market, something which I also planned to do on a Sunday morning. Fatigue won over and the three of us stayed at home while– and I’m sure this is totally what happened– Dale tied a scarf around his head and carried his wicker basket to Chapel Market, while birds sing all around him. There, he met the love of his life, a small-town farmer that grew the most delicious strawberries.

As soon as Dale got back, strawberries in tow (this part is true, and they were really delicious), we decided to go ahead with our previously-aborted plans of meeting Vince, Ajay’s friend and a fellow Filipino who lives in London, to spend the night dance, dance, dancing away.

What? Didn’t we just do that during Angel’s wedding?

Yes, we did. But this was a legitimate night out in town. Pat and I wanted one before she went home to Manila the next day. So we decided to meet Vince at the Trafalgar Square, so we can also fit in a few minutes of taking photos. [Note: Here’s when I should have gone to Australia House, a.k.a., Gringotts.]

Pat and Dale on the train.Either Dale's yawning, or he's belting out an emotional ballad.

Trafalgar Square is one of the more famous tourist attractions in London. It is also a popular venue for rallies and demonstrations.

Trafalgar Square!

Trafalgar Square again (well part of the fountain), with the National Gallery in the background

Smack at the center is the Nelson’s Column, with the four lions “guarding” it. Lots of people seem to like chilling in there. Jerome attempted to climb on one of the lions, with Dale on his heels. I would have also tried climbing up that lion, but not while wearing a skirt.

Jerome with one of the four lions

There’s also a large fountain and some other sculptures in Trafalgar Square, which I’m too tired to Wiki.

Vince introduced us to his friend, Tendai, and this pub, Montagu Pyke. We had a quick dinner there, and also a few cocktail drinks. We ordered different cocktails at first, but we all ended up liking this apple pie-tasting mix the best, which had Fireball Cinammon Whisky as its base. It was so good that as of this entry, I’m having my friend bring me some of that whisky home from Canada.

My amigos in front of the pub

Jerome and I shared a steak and kidney pie with mashed potato and mashed peas on the side.

Mashed peas aren’t for me, I soon discovered. Perhaps they were when I was 5 months old and eating them out of a Gerber bottle. Speaking of babies (whut?), we were carded when we ordered drinks. Bless that bartender, he was probably our age or younger. I guess our Asian genes can still have us passing for college students there.

After Montagu Pyke, we looked for a place we can go dancing. Our first attempt was at a salsa place (the dance, not the dip), but no amount of “So You Think You Can Dance” can make us attempt the salsa publicly. We ended up at Zoo in Leicester Square, where there were actual college (or high school?) students. One of them looked like Ignasi Miquel. Or Zac Efron. Unfortunately, apart from Ignasi-Zac, the only tappable guys there was this Italian guy who ended up making out near the bar after making 5 seconds of eye contact with a total stranger.

Not gonna lie, the crowd was totally lame. There were quite a number of douchey-looking guys trying to dance with me or Pat (and one guy who actually danced his way inside our protective cocoon– but that was fun.) and a group of slutty tourists taking the London Night Tour. Thankfully, we had our… er, men to protect us and vice versa. Despite all that, we enjoyed the night, even the part with the cheesy 90s backtrack music (Backstreet Boys, anyone?).

Okay, so we especially enjoyed the cheesy 90s music part.

The only photos at Zoo, c/o Vince's iPhone

It was kind of a shock seeing people make out on the dance floor. Had to remind myself that we were in Europe. If we were here, those people would have been doused by an icy beverage. Not really, but they would be given the evil eye. Wait. Will they? I haven’t been on the scene for so long. Or ever.

When it was time to call it a night, there were no more trains to take us back to our hotel so we had to walk to a bus stop with a route that included East Croydon. Pat was going home the day after, and it was a sad because we wouldn’t have her for the remainder of the trip, and also partly because we were reminded that we do not live here in this wonderful, amazing city. 😦