Exploring England: Liverpool

Ahhh Liverpool, my always home. Despite having spent the last few years living down South and in France, I will always consider Liverpool to be my first love. They say ‘home is where the heart is’ and hey, they’d be right. Family, school friends and first loves all happened within this great city and every time I visit the nostalgia is almost palpable. Seems only fitting, then, that Liverpool should be the first instalment of my Exploring England series.

Liverpool is a city that seems to have earned itself a bit of a bad reputation. Indeed, every time I try to persuade someone to make the voyage up north to Scouseland, I am met with wrinkled noses and panicked accusations of me wanting my friends to get mugged by a 12 year-old in a Reebok hoodie. Sigh.

Like any city Liverpool has its nice areas and its… less nice areas. But it’s nice areas more than make up for the faults. My favourite part of Liverpool is hands down the docks, with the historic Albert Dock and red brick buildings, not to mention beautiful river views. Take a trip on the Ferry across the Mersey and look at the Liverpool waterline, then tell me this isn’t a city worth visiting. Go on. With the Liver Buildings and the juxtaposition of the newly built Museum of Liverpool and the old Victorian warehouses, this is a city with a proud history and an exciting future.

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The people and the culture are pretty colourful too. To celebrate being named the European Capital of Culture and its 800-year anniversary in 2008, Liverpool city centre had a bit of a facelift. For shopaholics, there is Liverpool ONE, an open-air shopping centre that spans most of the city centre. For culture vultures, we have the dockside TATE Gallery, or the World Museum (fun fact #1: I used to work there), amongst many more. For nature lovers, there is Chavasse park, a tranquil oasis in the middle of the city centre with river views. There is also a wide range of restaurants (fun fact #2: we have the biggest Nando’s in Europe) and cuisines, not to mention cocktail bars which are all reasonably priced. And of course the people are just SO darn friendly. Seriously, just try engaging someone in a bit of ‘banter’ and see how they respond. It’s in our blood.

Of course, there is a far whack of typically touristic pursuits on offer, too. Liverpool is the alma mater of The Beatles and there are about a million ways to interact with their story with dedicated museums, experiences and guided tours (fun fact #3: I went to school on the famous Penny Lane. Ain’t that fancy?). Take a trip on the Wheel of Liverpool for stunning Mersey views, or get out of the city a bit to visit the beach at Formby or Southport. Or you can – and this is my favourite activity – go on a Lambanana hunt throughout the city. The Lambanana is at the heart of Liverpudlian affections; half lamb, half banana, the original statue lives near the waterfront, but as part of the 2008 celebrations Liverpool Council produced 30 Lambananas of various decoration and dotted them around the city. Kinda weird, but oh so Liverpool.

Eat: Nolita Cantina on Bold Street for authentic American homestyle cooking, Blue Bar at the Albert Dock for comedy, expertly-mixed cocktails and river views, or Chavasse Park for a wide choice of restaurants for all palettes

See: The Docks (duh), Anthony Gormley’s amazing ‘Another Place’ installation on Crosby Beach, the Liverpool dock front from the ferry, beautiful Sefton Park and Birkenhead Park (Fun Fact #4: Birkenhead Park actually inspired Frederick Law Omsted aka the brains behind New York’s Central Park. Whoopa.)

Do: Shop at Harvey Nichols Beauty Bazaar (it’s as good as it sounds), walk the ancient walls of Chester (and visit the nearby zoo), catch a show at the Philharmonic or Empire Theatre 

Have you ever been to Liverpool?

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