My next stop in England was Liverpool. An ex-colleague of mine, Marshy, had suggested I go there (he’s from Liverpool) and upon doing some more research, I found that it had been voted the 4th friendliest city in the world by Rough Guides readers. That was good enough for me. Marshy’d given me a list of things to do there, and coincidentally, a friend of mine from high school, Nic Morgan, was also going to be there at the same time. How could I not enjoy Liverpool when you took all of those things into consideration?
Liverpool was cool. It was a lot smaller than London, which I really liked, and apart from getting a taxi to and from the coach station, in the rain, I just walked everywhere. I found some company at the hostel – one guy from Liverpool and one from some small English town that I couldn’t remember the name of – for the morning and we booked in to a Tour of the Old Docks that the Maritime Museum puts on.
Our tour guides were two incredibly charismatic and quirky Liverpudlians who had us laughing the whole time, but who were also some of the main researchers of the docks’ history, so they were both really passionate and knowledgeable. One had his hair in red dreadlocks, while the other one was croaking because he’d lost his voice, and they would just banter wittily while taking us underground and through the excavated old docks. I really thought they should have their own TV show, they were that entertaining.
The whole area around the docks was cool; the Maritime Museum had all these really true to life replicas of old ships sitting at the docks, and there was some really nice architecture, including the Royal Liver Building and the Port of Liverpool Building, sitting on the river.
Not to mention The Tate Liverpool, which I spent most of the afternoon at. Just up the road was Liverpool One, which was a giant retail and leisure center, and I wasn’t sure why Marshy had told me to go there but I went anyway and was pleasantly surprised. It was coming up to Christmas so they had an ice skating rink and beerhaus and Christmas markets and all these people in costumes and music playing and it was just all very festive and a lovely place to hang out.
I went back to my hostel that evening to meet up with Nic, who’d been arriving a little later. As I was waiting in the common room, on my phone, trying very hard to give off the ‘I’m busy, don’t talk to me’ vibe, an old man came up to me and started to talk. Apparently he was some kind of spiritualist who could help you access the astral plane or something like that. ‘Great,’ I thought. ‘I always get the kooks talking to me.’
You’d think that when someone replies to all your questions with a one word answer and then goes back to using their phone you’d take the hint and leave them alone but instead he progressed to telling me how beautiful my hair was, and then how beautiful the rest of me was too, and then suggesting we get dinner at 8.
I swear, whenever I want someone to talk to me, nobody does. I always have to be the one who goes up to other people and introduces myself. But whenever I want to be left alone I get inundated with offers for company. And not the kind of company I like, either, it’s always the creeps. Why?!? If anyone could tell me what I’m doing wrong and how I can change that, I’d be eternally grateful.
Either way, I ran off, bumbling something about meeting a friend for dinner, and when Nic came into the door of that hostel I jumped at him and begged him to rescue me should he see any old men around.
It was wonderful getting to hang out with Nic. We’d been friends in highschool and then drifted apart when we’d gone to different universities and been interested in different things. It’s kind of strange meeting someone you once knew and realising that they’re now a bit of a stranger, but it was lovely getting reacquainted, and getting to know what kind of people we’d become.
Liverpool is famous for comedy, so we spent that night at the Lantern Theatre, in the front row, watching a comedy-play about Tommy Cooper. Nic’s Dad is a huge fan, and I’d never heard of Tommy Cooper before – he’s dead now by the way, it was a play about his life featuring sections of his routines – but I thought it was hilarious and heartbreaking.
We also popped into the Cavern Club for a few songs; it was famous for having the Beatles play there: ‘the birthplace of the Beatles’ they called it, and Marshy had played there too, but it was really crowded and that night the band was just playing Beatles covers.
My one regret about Liverpool is that I didn’t have a big night out there with the locals, because it’s supposed to have some really good nightlife. There were a few scousers working at my hostel and I’d spent ages chatting to two of them, who’d invited me to go out with them that night. Unfortunately, I completely missed them by going to the comedy show and the Cavern Club after, and since Nic isn’t the clubbing type, I really wasn’t in the mood to go out on my own after that, in the rain. I called it an early night instead.
I was staying in a giant 20 bed dorm, and when I woke up the next morning every surface in the bathroom was covered with wet toilet paper. How?? Why?? These things are beyond me. Why would someone do this to a bathroom they have to use?
The bin was overflowing and there was garbage in a little mountain on the floor, some of it floating away on the pools of water that the toilet paper hadn’t soaked up. I’m not a complete clean freak but I’m not great at dealing with dirty bathrooms. I hyperventilated a little, then told myself that at least I was leaving today and ran out of there.
We did some more exploring but the business of the day, today, was finding scouse, this really hearty Liverpudlian stew. One of my best friends back home, Rob, is from Liverpool originally, and his mom makes scouse all the time and he once bought some in for me. It was the best day I’d had at work out of the whole almost-year I worked there. Nic and I were determined to find some good Liverpool scouse while we were here.
We found some forum online where someone else, originally from Liverpool, had come back and wanted to know where they could have scouse like their mother used to make, and the general consensus was the Baltic Pub. That was a good enough recommendation for us; we headed to the Baltic, which was undergoing renovations and smelled like fresh paint (mainly because they were applying fresh paint to the walls as we ate) and ordered some scouse, ignoring the fumes. It was good – but not as good as Rob’s mom’s scouse.
As always, I had to rush to get to my coach on time to leave Liverpool. We had such a fiasco trying to catch a taxi, until we realised there was a taxi rank just around the corner from our hostel where they were all lined up.
I’ve missed National Express coaches before and I had no desire to repeat that rather unsavoury experience. Nic and I jumped into the cab, jumped out, I ran onto the coach, and with that, I was gone.