Liverpool: The City of Culture?

Back in September I ventured up north. This is not something I have done very much (well hardly at all to be honest) so I was pretty damn excited about it. Besides, aside from anything else, I’m a sucker for a good strong accent. So we set off on our long coach journey from the south coast bright and early in the morning to arrive in a very rainy Liverpool.

We were staying in the Hatters Hostel, which I would thoroughly recommend! The staff were incredibly friendly, it was good value for money, there was a great communal area and each room had its own bathroom which is a rarity in the hostel world! Plus the important bonus that it was incredibly close to the town centre.

This is the Liverpool crew hanging out in the main dining/communal area:

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We then ventured out to get our bearings (following Jonny because he knew his way around) and got our first look at the docks.

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The docks are well presented and clearly the centre of what became known as ‘The City of Culture’. Its where you will find the Tate, The Beatles Story, The Maritime Museum and other museums and places of interest that we were planning to see during our visit. Although the one thing we noticed above all else on our first wanderings was it was bloody windy, as Row is demonstrating…

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The next day we began the tour of all these cultural attractions starting with the Tate. I like art but I’ve never been one to be able to stare at it for any extended period of time, so I found myself completing my tour of the place a lot quicker than most of my buddies but here are some of the pieces that did catch my eye:

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Next we went the maritime museum. This is Sam’s boat face. He really likes boats…

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For someone who has never really given much time to learning about British naval history I actually found this exhibition really interesting. They have a big section about Liverpool’s role in the story of the Titanic and a particularly interesting section on the history of homosexuality in the navy.

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Above the Maritime Museum is the International Slavery Museum. When I first saw this on our itinerary I wasn’t sure what to expect. What it gave me however was a similar feeling (though admittedly nowhere near the scale) to that which I experienced years earlier when I’d gone on a school trip to Poland to visit Auschwitz. You don’t ‘enjoy it’ and you are left with that hopeless feeling of having your faith in humanity well and truly banished for a while. However, once you come away you feel slightly better for being better educated about slavery’s history, knowing that to be educated is a million times better than remaining ignorant. More than anything the accumulation of recorded interviews, artwork, and documentaries that the museum displays drives home the message that slavery is still very much a reality even today and even within the UK. It is presented thoughtfully and unforgivingly and I would definitely recommend taking time to visit it.

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We then headed over to the more modern of Liverpool’s two large Cathedrals. The modern architectural design offsets the traditional view of the church without losing the grandeur of its far older ancestors.

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The second is far more what springs to mind when you hear the word ‘cathedral’. The first thing I remember thinking, ironically enough, was ‘My God, this place is big’. The stain glass windows were incredible and we unanimously agreed that we preferred this structure to the Metropolitan Cathedral (mainly due to the fact that the staircases reminded us of Hogwarts).

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One thing that did strike us as a little odd however was the neon pink writing under the centerpiece stain glass window that read ‘I felt you and I knew you loved me’. I could see what they were aiming for however it did appear to miss the mark somewhat. After all neon writing such of this has a way of bringing to mind dingy bars and strip clubs rather than places of worship but maybe thats just me…

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 Whenever I go travelling I have an overwhelming urge to find something very tall to climb and Liverpool didn’t disappoint on this front. The radio city tower is home not only to a radio station but also a rather impressive viewing platform. Me and my pal Row took the lift up to the top and were greeted with surely the best view of the city.

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Overall I really enjoyed my trip. Did I spend a lot of my time in Liverpool One shopping? Yes. Did we end up eating in Nandos more than once? Yes. (Don’t judge me). I may also be accused of missing out two important parts of Liverpool’s history, The Beatles and the football club. However as an admirer of The Beatles but not a fanatic and someone who has no real interest in football I chose not to prioritise these elements in my trip. Liverpool, which was dubbed ‘The City of Culture’ in 2008  and it does clearly have an interesting history and a fair few things to see. However after my few days spent there I left with the feeling that I had exhausted what the city had to offer me personally and (perhaps the miserable weather played a hand in this) I was rather underwhelmed by the experience as a whole.

To be completely honest the memory of visiting Edinburgh earlier in the year had set incredibly high standards for this trip and Liverpool, for me, just didn’t deliver on anywhere near the same scale. It lacked the atmosphere and beauty of the Scottish city and I know which one I’d much rather go back to. Saying that, I’m glad I’ve been and its a place I can check off my list and I did have a good time. I’d score Liverpool a 6.5/10.

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