Liverpool – so much to answer for

Another ‘tour diary’ – en route to Cornwall, a stopover in Liverpool, a city we’d never been to before. Firstly, on the way, a pitstop at Crosby beach, the Antony Gormley statues – www.antonygormley.com for the uninitiated, the guy who is maybe most famous for the Angel of the North in Gateshead but also for a series of 100 (apparently) human statues on a 3km stretch of Crosby Beach near Liverpool.

The trip then meant a quick drop-off at Hotel Indigo – nice, very modern, ideally situated and for what it is i.e. very good quality, a good value place to stay.

A tour on the open-top bus is great, it shows you that the city centre is pretty small – probably like Glasgow (as I also said of another city in my wee travelogue of Toulouse!) The City Explorer tour is done in 45 minutes and the tour guides are great fun, witty and full of stories and statistics, managing to encourage everyone up top despite the constant drizzle. Our host, and driver, are typical of everyone we meet – as chatty and generally friendly as Glasgow, and also, it’s notable that even hotel staff, save for one eastern European person, talk with broad local accents.

Then it’s a ferry across the Mersey – literally across the river and straight back – the ominous cooling tower at the Wirral side not enough to lure us off the vessel (neither is the promise of Tranmere Rovers or HMHB – not sure what else it’s known for).
Back across and an on-foot tour of the rest of the city – which involves a trip to Mathew Street, home to that most musically significant of clubs – Eric’s, which spawned the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Wah! Heat, etc. (Across the road is a place called the Cavern, which played host to some less significant people like Cilla Black).
Further research suggests that like the Cavern, the original Eric’s isn’t in the current spot, and indeed, if the club is even operational, it’s not with the blessing of the original owners.

Eventually we decide to head on foot for what may be the city’s only veggie restaurant, though details are sketchy. Certainly The Egg Cafe seems to be the only collective of its kind. Closest to Mono in ethic, it has a variety of dishes that change daily. It’s a BYOB setup with very decent grub – quiches, salads, soups, desserts. Well worth hunting out (it’s up a side street and upstairs, so do persevere).

Finally, back to Mathew Street – Eric’s seems to be closed… the original Cavern is no more but they have rebuilt it a few doors along so you can see Beatles-alike bands in their original setting. Tonight it’s the Mersey Beatles – a video screen provides a window on their convincing mop-top wigs. We decide not to bother, though we can see Them Beatles are booked in for July. Instead we see a competent covers band in the Cavern Pub, across the way – still full of memorabilia and it seems that the band are contractually bound to play at least one Fab 4 tune every hour. Still, they have the Algeria game on the telly and Heineken on tap.

And that was Liverpool. Well worth a visit, next time we might even stay more than 18 hours…

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