Cathedrals and Footy in Liverpool

September 23, 2012 - 7:33 pm No Comments

After arriving at Lime Street Station, we struck up a conversation with a young station employee about what we were doing in Liverpool. One of the coolest things about the UK is that people in service positions, whether they are train station employees, cashiers, cops, bouncers, taxi drivers, or sanitation workers, are friendly and approachable and happy about their jobs. Back at home, most of the people who do these things are miserable, resigned to their fate and depressed about it, and they’re not shy about letting you know how miserable they are. Here, everyone is just so cool.

We found our spacious apartment on the Mersey River. This was our first booking, and after initial difficulties finding our way into the flat, we were excited to find that it was spacious and clean. Conrad had made a special request for a cot. What was delivered was a collapsible baby pen. Ah, language differences.

Exploring Liverpool in the afternoon didn’t really happen. We napped instead. Or at least the others did, while I took advantage of the tenuous wifi and mapped out an itinerary for the night and following day.

After cleaning up, we headed out to watch sunset over the River Mersey. We were all impressed by the blend of historic and contemporary architecture, highlighted by a collection of historic buildings called the Three Graces and a monument marking the final departure point of the Titanic. I took advantage of the golden hour light washing everything in a magical glow, bouncing around and taking lots of photos, doing my best to keep the hordes of punk kids out of my shots.

Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic

Ferry Terminal at Pier Head

Statue of Captain Frederic John Walker

Port of Liverpool Building

Museum of Liverpool

All the local restaurants we visited were booked for the evening, presumably because of the thousands of fans in town for the Manchester United v. Liverpool game. The only place that would seat us was called Noble House. The wait for our food was long, but it was good. The guys treated me to a birthday dinner.

Castle Street at Night

At the recommendation of our train station friend, we visited Concert Square to check out Liverpool’s nightlife. Our friend had said that the nightlife here is so crazy that kids train in from all parts of England to party in Liverpool for the weekend.

And he was right. The streets of Concert Square were a mob scene. Punk kids with skinny jeans and girls dolled up like child pageant queens. Admittedly, the kids were all a bit young to properly socialize with them, but it didn’t slow down our drinking.

Slater Street

We took a taxi back to the slightly more upscale Albert Dock for one more drink. On the way, we talked about the exaggerated Liverpudlian accent. I find it interesting how they inflect the English language when they speak. The vowels are all airy and nasal, and they speak with a certain bouncy cadence. There’s a touch of Irish in there. I kind of like it. I especially the way they say things like “Liverpyool” and “cyool” and “schyool”.

Bar at Albert Dock

This morning, I woke up to an incessant and booming crescendo of bells from one of Liverpool’s many churches. Despite my best efforts to take it easy last night, I was hungover again, and the bells made my brain throb.

Jerry woke up violently ill, running to the bathroom every few minutes and looking like death. I knew he was still in bad shape, because it was unite literally the first time I’ve ever seen him not smiling. He wasn’t well enough to join us on our morning cathedral tour, but he told us to go on without him, so we did.

The rest of us headed out for a morning cathedral tour, first to the impressively massive Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

Liverpool Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral

I Felt You and I Knew You Loved Me

The Lady Chapel

Conrad & Doug on Upper Duke St.

Then off to the space-agey and colorful Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. There really is something divine to the powerful bass notes that these church organs can hit.

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

We Are Demanding the Sun

We came upon the Church of St. Luke, an old church that was bombed out by the Germans in World War II. Instead of having the city of Liverpool preserve what’s left, it’s been taken over by hippies who charge a small donation fee at the door and filled it with crappy art pieces.

Church of St. Luke

Church of St. Luke

Conrad Plays Gotye on Car Wheels

For the Manchester United v. Liverpool game, the guy at the train station said Concert Square would be a huge party, with outdoor screens and people drinking and cheering in the streets. He assured us that for a big game like this one, the fans would be going crazy. Exactly what we were looking for.

When we arrived at Concert Square about 30 minutes before game time, we found it almost deserted. Where were the hordes of Liverpool faithful with their red jerseys and a pint of beer in each hand? Confused, we wandered around looking for the crowd but found nothing.

We resigned to watching the game on TV at a bar called the Abbey, a place that felt a lot like a family sports bar. As the game drew closer, we expected the place to get a bit more crowded and rowdy, but it didn’t.

Liverpool Fans in The Abbey

For lunch, we ordered a steak pie, roast lunch, and rack of ribs. As expected, the portions were small and the quality was mediocre.

The game started with a memorial to those killed when overcrowded stands collapsed at a football game at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England in 1989 and killed 96 people. Just a few days ago, a panel concluded that no Liverpool fans were responsible for the deaths, and that attempts had been made by the authorities to conceal what had happened. The report cited failures by emergency services and triggered public apologies from the government.

After kick-off, and Doug did his best to teach Conrad and me about some of the players, controversies, and finer points of the game. He didn’t have to speak loudly, as fans in the bar passively ate their mediocre bar food and only became attentive to the game when Liverpool took a shot.

Craving a more energetic crowd, we decided to catch the end of the game at a bar across the street called O’Neill’s. A much younger, livelier crowd, but still very few red jerseys and a lot of people just standing around not paying any attention to anything.

Overall, the whole experience of watching Liverpool football with the locals was a little underwhelming. Either we weren’t in the right place, or the locals just don’t get into it like we expected.

Doug & Conrad on Wood Street

With time to kill, I decided that we had enough time for a quick trip to the famous Abbey Road, a street made famous by its appearance on the famous Beatles album cover. After hailing a taxi to take us there, the driver laughed in my face and told me that the famous Abbey Road was in London. I thought it was a fair assumption that the Abbey Road I found on Google Maps in Liverpool earlier this morning was where the famous album cover was taken. Alas, it is not. Appreciative that he didn’t take me for a pointless ride, I left a generous tip when he dropped us at the Lime Street train station.

We met up with Jerry, who had been waiting at the station with his bags for hours. Slumped over on a bench, he still looked awful. I really hope whatever bug he has passes, or the rest of the trip is going to be much less fun for all of us. I told Doug I’ve never seen Jerry in such a bad mood. He must be dying.

Liverpool Lime Street Railway Station

Now on the train to Edinburgh. On our first train out of Liverpool, some truly pissed (drunk, not angry) Manchester fans pounded beer, embraced, and sang songs together, making sure everyone on the train could hear them. I couldn’t believe how many songs they knew.

When the ticket checker made his way through our car, they were belligerent and uncooperative, only producing their tickets after the train was stopped and security guards appeared at the door.

In a small town called Preston, we stopped to change trains. A screaming little girl and carefree father a few rows back have made this ride only slightly more comfortable than the last. A Scottish guy burst out of his seat to tell them both to shut the fuck up, but it doesn’t seem to be having any effect.

Sick Jerry

Jeff & Doug Eat Prawn Cocktail Crisps

We should be getting into Edinburgh in about 45 minutes. I’m pretty excited about Scotland.

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