Getting there: We had a 8:10AM train from Manchester to Liverpool. I would love to say we (Annie, Billy, and I) popped right out of bed refreshed and ready to start a new adventure… but not really? I think I dozed for a couple more minutes, Billy at least 20, and Annie somewhere in between #classiccollegestudent. By the time we realized we needed to get out of bed it was 7:50AM (whoops). Since I knew we wouldn’t have time to have a sit down breakfast, I proposed PB&J sandwiches for takeaway (that’s how they say “to go”). It was really cute all three of us crammed into a small kitchen making sandwiches together.
We did make it onto the train 🙏🏼 and by 10:00AM we were in Liverpool! Sunday morning in Liverpool was extremely quiet; we were the only ones in the garden we found and took liberties sitting on railing to take cute pics with the blooming flowers. Such pretty flowers!! Annie Liu did a great job with her new lens.
Then we got distracted by more flowers and stayed in the area until 11 so I could use the restroom in the world museum at Liverpool (hey when traveling lean, you use the restroom whenever the opportunity occurs because you’ll never know when you’ll get it again).
Liverpool Cathedral & Chinatown: Next we walked downtown to check out Liverpool’s Chinatown (supposedly the largest in the U.K.) and Cathedral (also the largest in the U.K. and 4th largest in the world). Chinatown was sort of a disappointment. Maybe we didn’t find all of Chinatown, but it seemed pretty small to us. Liverpool cathedral was not a disappointment – it was ENORMOUS. Some stats: the Liverpool Cathedral is 206 meters long (2 football fields) and 101 meters high (one football field). It holds the world’s largest organ.
I’m curious to know why Liverpool Cathedral looks the way it does. I’m used to hearing about Cathedrals shaped like a cross but the Liverpool Cathedral is actually a double cross. The backstory for Liverpool might provide some insight: Liverpool cathedral was to be the 3rd Protestant cathedral built in the UK after St. Peter’s in London and another cathedral. There was a competition to decide who was going to build this cathedral and the young Sir Gilbert Giles (at age 22) was selected, much to the shock of the community. He was originally working under someone to build the cathedral but then took over full time when his partner died. My guess is that being the third Protestant cathedral, they were still trying to figure out what that even looked like, but it wasn’t Roman Catholic so maybe it’s okay that Sir Giles played around with the structure a little.
We couldn’t go in because visitors weren’t allowed until after 12:30 and we weren’t there for mass so we just walked the whole perimeter before heading to lunch with Billy’s friend named Hydria (I think that’s how you spell it?).
Lunch @ Ropewalks – Soul of Liverpool
Unfortunately the place I wanted to go, Maggie May’s, to try the traditional Liverpool soup called “scrouse” was closed so we settled for something along the same road called Soul.
Overall I wasn’t a huge fan of the food (in fact I wrote a pretty harsh review on Yelp 😅) . Soul is one of those places that think they’re too cool to settle for the standard restaurant service so they make their food as you order, which meant waiting an hour for all of our food. The food wasn’t that good, there wasn’t a lot of it, and it was definitely overpriced.We went to Tesco (grocery store) afterwards to get the rest of our lunch and bid Billy’s friend farewell. Despite Soul, I like Ropewalks; Annie and I would be back on this street for dinner.
Albert Docks: is pretty much all of Liverpool that matters, and I hate to say that because you shouldn’t judge a city only by its main attraction but really, all the things worth seeing in Liverpool (in my opinion, for a tourist) are all concentrated along Albert Docks. Albert docks is home to multiple museums including the Beatles Story, the Maritime Museum, and the Tate Museum of Art (Tate Liverpool).
We strolled down the docks, amused by an epic battle between a cup and a can, and attempted to visit the Beatles museum. I was pretty set on visiting the Beatles museum because Liverpool is very connected to the Beatles but once I experienced the customer service… well I was out. Basically they wouldn’t let us use their bag drop despite the obvious load we were carrying… and they really didn’t have a good reason. You know there was a harsh Yelp review written afterwards.
Tate Liverpool: But our poor experience with the Beatles Museum might might have been a blessing in disguise because it meant we had to find something else to do, which meant going to the Liverpool Tate and THAT was so so worth it. I haven’t been to the London Tate so maybe all Tate’s are as cool as this one, but I think the Tate not the Beatles museum should be a top Liverpool attraction. We walk into the museum and ask about tickets. “The museum is free!” says the lady at the desk and “would you like to check your bags? Let me give you one of the big ones behind the desk.” (THAT’S called customer service @beatlesmuseum).
In addition to their superb customer service, the Tate Liverpool has some really interesting exhibits! I wasn’t super into their featured exhibit; it was… too modern (?) and not “complex” enough. The artist juxtaposed huge bright blocks of color, which I understand conveys meaning, but I just can’t see it because there was nothing to see or analyze or dissect (just color). My eyes hurt.
The main exhibit however, just brilliant! The art is grouped by themes to form “constellations” with once piece of art as center piece that all the other pieces stem from (so cool!!). Also they used the shapes of REAL constellations, like Orion and the Big Dipper. The amount of thought that went into curating these exhibits is incredible!! Besides raving about the Tate Liverpool, I also want to feature a few works of art that I really really liked and found insightful.
The first piece is called “untitled” by Robert Morris and is created from rolls of felt that are released from a single point.
Each time the exhibit is set up, the piece looks a little different. Morris allows the felt to determine its own shape, which is supposed to question the geometry and structure associated with minimalist art. I like the spirit of the piece much more; the idea of working with your material as partners to make art. Rather than forcing your material to be what you want it to be, you enable the material to realize it’s own form.
The second piece is also called “Untitled” by Glen Lignon created in 2006.
It’s a bit hard to tell from the photos but the word “America” is made out of neon yellow glass tubing covered with black paint with some chinks in the paint to let the light through. There are multiple interpretations for this piece, but the one I find most profound is the reference to the American Dream. I think America is often thought of as a “bright shining light” because of the American Dream: you can do anything/be anything if you set your mind to it – hence America spelled out in neon lights. However, the bright light is covered in black paint, suggesting that the American Dream, or perhaps America herself, is not as bright and beautiful as we first imagined. It’s a bold and thought provoking message very well expressed in this piece of art.
Dinner – Crust pizza: Billy left us for Edinburgh after the Tate Liverpool becauses he still needed to finish an assignment. After sending him off, Annie and I got dinner. We were really in the mood for sushi but the prices are exorbitant!!! Like £11 for 4 pieces!! I miss half priced sushi Niichi at UT.
Instead we headed back to Ropewalks and had a very nice pizza at Crust, specifically pizza with vegetable ash (supposed to be healthy??) crust. The crust is supposed to be black, but it actually turned out more gray, and I don’t it changed the taste that much… but now I’ve had black crust pizza!
Annie and I decided to turn in early because neither of us could think of anything else do to in Liverpool. We took the bus into the suburbs to our airbnb (which had Madonna decor everywhere and was a little creepy) and that’s a wrap! Overall Liverpool was okay; there wasn’t as much to do in Liverpool compared to Manchester and I think I fit more with the Manchester vibe (busy, quirky, science and tech) versus the Liverpool one (hipster, music, rougher, chill).