Advantages Cultural - steeped in history & heritage
Disadvantages Lack of investment
|Value for Money|
|Ease of getting around|
LIVERPOOL - European Capital of Culture 2008This is the first in what will be a series of city reviews, when I get around writing the others that is !!
I could quite easily go on about my home city all day long..... A city, which for reasons beyond it's own control, has received a very bad press for far too long.I have lived and worked away from the city now for over 10 years, and can say with absolute certainty that there are many worse places to be ... I know, I live in one of them !heritage, the history, the music, the culture ... It's got it all, but unfortunately suffered a massive industrial decline in the 80's, leading to mass unemployment and large scale economic and social decay, from which the city has only - in the last 3-4 years - really started to recover. The crowning of the city as the European Capital of Culture 2008 was a massive coup, helping to increase investment and raise tourism.
I can honestly say that of all the people I have ever met, particularly students who have studied in the city, every person has spoken very highly about the city and the myriad of activities and interests at their disposal.I think the best way for me to write a review of the city, is to make the assumption that the reader is travelling there for the weekend....
* St Georges Hall - Incorporating both Greek and Roman design features; the building was opened in 1854 with a weeklong music festival. The hall features an impressive brown and blue tiled floor.* William Brown Library & Museum - The building, originally opened in 1860, was built to house the Earl of Derby's natural history collection, but is now the central library and museum.
* Walker Art Gallery - A Roman building, with statues depicting Raphael and Michelangelo either side of the entrance. I think the last time I actually went here was on a school outing in the 80's ! The gallery boasts over 6 centuries of art with many renaissance and contemporary pieces on display. The entrance to the gallery portrays - on either side - statues of Raphael and Michelangelo.* Lime Street Station - The station was built in 3 phases during the 1800's and incorporates a train shed, which was the largest in the world at the time. It was also the first shed in which iron was used throughout.
* The Royal Liver Building - Built in the early 1900's the building stands proud on the banks of the River Mersey and is known collectively, with the Cunard and Port of Liverpool buildings, as one of the 3 graces. The building is now world famous as a beacon of the city, along with the mythical Liver Birds perched on top of the domed clock towers. The building is without rival in the England, and is one of the earliest examples of concrete reinforced multi-storey construction, which would later give way to the development of skyscrapers.* Cunard Building - Built in the style of Italian palazzo with Greek revival details, the building was constructed during the 1st world war.
* Port of Liverpool Building - This building, built in 1907, is built in the style of a renaissance palace, with a breath-taking interior. It is now the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board building.* White Star Line Building - This fascinating red and white-bricked building was originally the home of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company. It later become home to White Star Line, where the Titanic was officially registered and it was from the balcony of this building that the unfortunate news of her disaster was broadcast.
* India Buildings - This monolithic office block was built between 1924 and 1932 and occupies an entire block. It's main feature is a vaulted arcade running through the centre of the building.* Former Bank of England Building - This building, situated on Castle Street, along with all the major Banks, is actually featured in the British comedy film "The Parole Officer", starring Steve Coogan. The building incorporates Greek motifs within its design and boasts a very grand front entrance.
* Liverpool Football Club - The most decorated English football club of all time with a total of 18 domestic League Championship trophies and 5 European success, most recently in Istanbul. Ironically formed when neighbours Everton Football Club had an argument with the landlord of Anfield (where they played at the time) in 1898, following their 1st League Championship success.* Everton Football Club - Despite a period of decline since the turn of the 1990's, Everton - founder members of the football league - remain the 4th most successful English football club of all time (behind Arsenal and then Manchester United), with 9 domestic League Championship trophies and 5 F.A. Cup final successes. Everton remain the longest serving member of top-flight football, having spent only 4 seasons of the 106-year history of the league, outside of the top flight.
The Football grounds are located no more than 1-mile apart, approximately 3-4 miles from Liverpool city centre. Stadium tours take place daily and, if you are a lover of football, then tours of both clubs, including the trophy rooms, which boast more trophies than all but 2 other English clubs, is a must. A taxi to either ground will cost you in the region of £5 from the city centre, or you can catch a number of different buses that run by the grounds from Queens Square in the city centre - just check with the information desk for the correct bus.Continuing with the sporting theme, and Aintree Racecourse, home of the Grand National. The Racecourse is situated 8 miles north of the city centre; easily accessible on the northern line from Liverpool Central train station, with a stop 2 minutes walk from the racecourse. The visitor centre operates daily tours, including museum, picture gallery, race of champions, weighing room, stables, parade ring, red rum's grave & statue, and racecourse tour. A family tour (2 adult & 2 child tickets) will cost you just under £20
There are also bus tours available, at relatively cheap prices, providing a tour of many of the attractions I have highlighted, but also providing a whole host of interesting facts and quips. The tours include, Pier Head, White Star Line Building, Castle Street (Former home of Liverpool Castle, now occupied by the Magistrates Courts), Church and Lord Street, Dale Street, Victoria Street, Mount Pleasant, the Bombed Out Church, China Town, the 2 Cathedrals, Hope Street, and Rodney Street (Liverpool's equivalent to Harley Street).For attractions farther a field, local buses run from the bus station at Queens Square, opposite the Marriott hotel, with information available upon request from the local office. Alternatively, the local rail system is an ideal way to travel, particularly to attractions on the Wirral, or nearby Formby and Southport, with connections from Lime Street, Central, Moorfields Exchange, and St James'.
There are also a host of local minicab companies, who provide competitive prices and can be pre-booked for your return journey.~~~~~
The Gastronomy of the city is 2nd to none ... well, okay, 2nd to London.There are a whole host of different restaurants and cafes available for dining, with a host of different culinary experiences on offer;
* 60 Hope Street - A restaurant and cafe bar, becoming an increasingly more popular establishment, also has a private dining area. Providing special deals such as a 2-course meal for £12, it has a wide selection of dishes.* Bellapais Taverna - Located in Bixteth Street (previously located in Bold Street), this is a basement restaurant serving authentic Greek & Cypriot food. Very well priced, with a 3 course meal costing under £10
* Caesars Palace - Authentic Italian restaurant (almost fast food style), it is well decorated and presented with Roman theme, mosaic tiles and chandeliers, but I wasn't too impressed with the pasta, which I found to be bland and unimaginative. There is a wide selection available on the menu, just not to my specific taste.* Eddie Rockets - Located on Bold Street, this typical American Diner is a popular theme in Ireland and has now crossed the sea to the Port of Liverpool. Not my kind of thing, but wel priced and serving a range of burgers, nachos, hot dogs and milk shakes ... The local scallies love it, as it gives them a more upmarket alternative to McDonalds - bless them!
* El macho Mexican Bar & Grill - Mexican restaurant located on Hope Street. £10 for 2 course meal - good value.* Marquee Lounge Bar and Eating Rooms - Popular restaurant covering 2 floors on Victoria Street, specialising in Mediterranean and Lebanese food. Well priced and currently increasing in popularity.
* May Sum Buffet King Restaurant - Chinese buffet restaurant located next to the Holiday Inn and opposite Lime Street train station. My youngest brother swears that the food is excellent .. I've never been in because the high number of covers and turn over suggested to me that the quality wouldn't be all that good, but our kid does reliably inform me it is full value for money ... it's an option to save you the treck up to China town.* Metro Eating Room & Bar - Providing one of the best A la carte menus in Liverpool, the restaurant is in Victoria Street and is better known for it's live music in the evening (see bars & pubs).
* Olive Press - Best lobster in Liverpool, freshly chosen from the tank. Authentic Italian, with fabulous stone baked Pizza's. Well priced. Located on Castle Street.* Pacific Bar & Grill - Located on Temple Street, the restaurant is housed in the neo-classical Pacific Chambers building, over 2 floors and provides free wireless internet access for those who require such treats. Wide ranging menu and moderately priced.
* Pushka - Located on Rodney Street, this restaurant that I have never been to, provides British and European Cuisine.* Sapporo Teppanyaki - Again, not a restaurant I have visited, as I don't like Japanese. Famed in Liverpool for it's sushi and noodles, the restaurant is located on Duke Street and is popular amongst diners requiring a quick and healthy snack. No thank you!
* Sultans Palace - Excellent authentic Indian restaurant on Hardman Street... I am sure I have eaten a 3-course meal for under £8 here, but then I am usually half cut when eating here, so couldn't be sure. Food is of a very good quality though, mind you ... anything will taste good when you're not sober.* Valpraiso - The only Chilean restaurant in Liverpool, and a real specialty for fish. A number of my mates from football swear by the place and visit up to 6 times a year, after the match on a Saturday evening. Despite the specialty for fish, there is a range of different dishes on the menu, with many meat & vegetarian selections. Moderate, slightly above average prices.
BARS / CLUBS
If you visit the city for a night out, you can have a completely different experience on each occasion you visit, due to the diversity of styles. The choice is yours;For those that are into modern trendy contemporary bars, coupled with funky house music and the "beautiful people", then there are a plethora of bars and pubs to frequent. There are a few different areas of the city to go to as well, with Victoria Street, Dale Street and Water Sreet housing "Newz Bar" - popular with local celebrities, "Living Room", "Mosquito" - popular with the local Footballers, "Voodoo Lounge", and "Pacific Bar & Lounge". If you try to gain admittance to most of these bars after 11am / midnight, you will have to pay around £10, and sometimes also be on the guest list.
The Albert Dock area also boasts a number of young and trendy modern contemporary bars, such as the popular "Baby Cream", eclectically decorated and complete with rows of plasma screens fixed to the wall, providing scenic backdrops of lakes, rivers, and beautiful landscapes, to provide the ultimate relaxed and chilled feel. Serves good food during the day and awesome cocktails by night;"Blue Bar & Baby Blue" - Blue bar is a very spacious open plan trendy bar, with slate flooring, upstairs balcony and occasional seating ... Baby Blue is located in the basement and houses an excellent Comedy club (highly recommended), which later turns into a night club, where I have often seen a number of the cast from Hollyoaks;
"Pan American Bar" - very similar in style to Blue Bar, except for the red internal decoration and the inclusion of private booths ... the bar focuses a little more on light restaurant food, popular for early evening dining. A good place to start with a cocktail. I would highly recommend any of these bars, as they are all favourites of mine, despite being a little further from what is going on in the main city centre.Finally, the Bold Street, Wood Street, Temple Street, and Concert Square area of town, provides a number of other trendy and contemporary bars, such as "Life Cafe Bar & Restaurant", "Revolution", "Modo", "Bluu", and the "Tea Factory". I particularly like the "Tea Factory" for it's range of cocktails, but "Modo" is particularly funky and full of crazy people!
If you are more up for a cheesy / studenty night out, then there are equally a whole host of different places to go.You can either go to the "Rat & Parrott" or opposite to "Yates' Wine Lodge" on Queens Square, adjacent to the Marriott Hotel, or you can visit Matthew Street, where the Beatles first started, at the World famous "Cavern Club" (Not the original club, which was tragically knocked down!!), and drink in "Rubber Soul", "Mood Indigo", or "Flanagans Apple".
Alternatively, if you venture towards Wood Street, Concert Square, Temple Street, Seel Street, there are a further range of bars, such as "Howl at the Moon", "Camel Club", "Beluga Bar", "Arena Bar", "Wetherspoons", "Norwegian Blue", "RSVP", "Rat & Parrott", "Baa-Baa", and "Wunder Bar" ... all of which will provide you with music, atmosphere and a range of different alcoholic beverages.For those more into the R&B, reggae and hip-hop scenes, then the two best places to go are on Victoria Street, either "Metro" or the "Havanna" bar.
If you are after something slightly alternative, such as gay & lesbian, then there are bars/club catering for this taste also. Temple Street is home to "Society", a gay friendly club, which restricts the entry of groups of lads, and is frequented by many straight females purely because they can go there any enjoy themselves without being hassled by blokes ... except for me of course! It's usually £10-£12 entry and always projects a feel good vibe .. along with the funky house music.Secondly, Dale Street is home to the famous "Garlands" nightclub, which has twice moved home due to arson attacks. "Garlands" is Liverpool's largest gay/lesbian club and costs £10 to get in. An ex-girlfriend of mine dragged me there one night, when I met most of her mates for the first time actually, and we had a really good night. The atmosphere is really chilled and warm welcoming with excellent funky and hard house music.
The city also provides a whole host of clubs for after hours entertainment, catering again for different tastes in music. "The Camel Club" on Wood Street provides punters a taste of the 60, 70's, 80's, and 90's; "The Krazy House" also located on Wood Street is a large building covering 3 floors and is mainly a Rock and Indie club, but it does have a floor that is also devoted to dance music; "Bar Fly", which houses the funky and hard house nights "Circus" and "Chibuku" ... this club is popular amongst the fraternity because it used to be a cinema and is therefore unique in design, with the main room having a tiered dance area ... I went to see Andy Cato DJ (He is one half of popular dance act Groove Armada) here a few years ago, and the atmosphere was electric; "Le Bateau" for a retro indie experience; "FACT" and "Escape" for dance music.Alternatively, for the gentlemen (or ladies) who like a little adult entertainment, there are a number of adult clubs around Victoria Street and Lime Street, who charge - an average - entrance fee of £10, with each dance costing you a mere £5. The most popular clubs being "Aphrodite", "Dreamers", "Sugars", "Fantasy Bar" and "Playboys".
A special mention also has to be given to the "Philharmonic" pub, located on Hope Street, adjacent to the "Philharmonic Hall", as it boasts the most ornate toilets you are ever likely to see - it's completely surreal! Bill Bryson covered the pub and toilets when he made his television documentary about the UK.~~~~~~~~~~~~
A review of Liverpool wouldn't be the same without some coverage of the cities 4 most famous brothers, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr.There are a number of heritage national trust sites dotted around Liverpool, but none more so than with the theme of The Beatles in mind. You can take a tour of Penny Lane and Strawberry fields, as well as seeing the former childhood homes of Ringo, Paul and John.
The Beatles Story Exhibition has been moved from it's prior location in Matthew Street to a more expansive location at the Albert Dock. A tour of the museum costs £7.99 for Adults & £4.00 for Children. You are presented with a self-controlled set of headphones that provide you with commentary and a plotted history of "Fab four" from their early beginnings to world super stardom. The benefit of the tour is that you can dictate your own pace as you weave in and around the museum, full of memorabilia and pictures of the band. The highlight for me was the mock up room - complete with piano - from the video "Imagine" by John Lennon ... this was actually quite an emotional experience, which made the hairs all over my body stand on end, as "Imagine" is played over and over through the speakers erected in the room. Lennon's famous sunglasses are also on display in the Museum, with what I am sure was a price tag of around £10k!The Museum is a must for any avid Beatlemaniac, but I didn't quite find it as fascinating as others may. Despite loving Beatles music and having a mild interest in the history, a lot of the commentary was too factual and as my birthright has provided me with a great deal of history surrounding the fab four, it was not of significant interest to me. Once outside the museum, The Beatles Shop allows you to spend to your hearts content on memorabilia and souvenirs.
ALBERT DOCK & WATERFRONT
THEATRE / MUSIC / CONCERTS / PLAYS / OPERA
- ANGLICAN CATHEDRAL - The Anglican Cathedral provides the City of Liverpool with yet another boast, the largets Anglican Cathedral in the World. As such, the Cathedral itself has a number of unique facts ... largest organ, highest gothic arches, heaviest ring of bells, and a tower that boasts the best, most breathtaking views of the city. The majesty of the Cathedral is up there with some of Europes most famed Cathedrals, namely, Canterbury, The Duomo in Milan, Notre Dame in Paris, and Gaudi in Barcelona.- THE METROPLITAN CATHEDRAL - Liverpool's 2nd Cathedral is the Roman Catholic Cathedral, known locally and affectionately as "Paddy's Wig-wam", due to it's American Tepee style and large Irish heritage. It has a very unique circular design, with chapels circling the periphery of the structure. Of the two Cathedrals, this was the one that captured by imagination more as a child on school excursions, partly because the oddity of it's shape but also because of the rainbow coloured stain-glass windows. The Cathedral's choir has a reputation as one of the finest in the UK, as it has a very large repertoire, from contemporary music to Gregorian chant - whatever that is!
ADDITIONAL ATTRACTIONS OUTSIDE THE CITY CENTRE
- Knowsley Safari Park (Allow the chimpanzees to completely destroy your car aerial!)
- Speke Hall (National Trust timber house dating back to 1490 and alleged to be very haunted indeed).
- Coxteth Hall & Country Park
- National Wild Flower Centre
- Southport Floral Hall
- Sefton Park (200 acre park home to the famous Palm House, a fabulous glass-panelled building)
- Botanic Gardens, Southport (A fantastic assortment of rare plants and flowers).
- Casbah Coffee Club (The Beatles)
- Formby Point & Squirell Reserve
- Historic Warships, Birkenhead (Floating Museum)
- Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, Wirral
- Martin Mere Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Burscough nr. Ormskirk
(I enjoyed this as a child, with the opportunity to learn about a whole host of rare birds that migrate to our shores but not for me nowadays).
The city of Liverpool boasts two Internationally recognised Universities for further education, with Liverpool University being very well respected amongst academic scholars and experts. The city of Liverpool is a popular choice with students due to all I have described, but both Universities are strong in a number of academic fields.- University of Liverpool - With over 23,000 students, the University of Liverpool houses one main campus, with a host of individual buildings / faculties / centre of study located close by. Established in 1881 as a University College, it received royal charter in 1903. It has faculties covering arts, education, engineering, law, medicine, dentistry, science, social and environmental studies, and veterinary science. The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is affiliated and the university has a marine biological station on the Isle of Man.
- Liverpool John Moores University - Known as a "new" University, was formerly "LIverpool Polytechnic". The University is spread over 3 campuses, and boasts over 24,000 students, with a large proportion of International scholars.Both Universities have owned Halls of residence, rented to 1st year and International students. Students are then encouraged to seek their own private accommodation during successive years, but the Universities will accept special applications for residence in halls, if required. However, my advice would definitely be to seek shared private rented accommodation, as my experience of University (albeit not in Liverpool) was that Halls work of great expense when compared to private rented 'digs'. My halls cost £75 per week, compared with £35 per week rent in a shared house for my 2nd and 3rd years of study.
Phewwww !!! There you go, not quite everything you need to know about Liverpool, but enough to keep you going for a short-medium visit at the least !UPDATED 03/05/06;
What Is The Capital Culture?
The European Capital of Culture Award is a programme run by the European Union and is the successor to the European City of Culture programme, which finished in 2004 with Genoa and Lille as the final Capitals to host.The purpose of the title is not simply to highlight existing cultural excellence, but to try and encourage the elected city to develop and innovate further within the cultural field. It will highlight the fact that culture is central to the life of a city, and will demonstrate its importance and contribution towards regeneration, social inclusion, education and business. Therefore, with the massive decline of a city that thrived and was a recognised World Port in the 1960's, Liverpool has been given a great opportunity to regenerate, something that was already happening (helped by the fact a little Scally like me had moved away and was causing mischief and mayhem in the city!), but given that extra push and funding that the prestigious title brings.Under the programme each Member State has been assigned a year for which to nominate a city to hold the title. The UK will host the European Capital of Culture in 2008 and the Department for Culture Media and Sport was responsible for managing the competition to select the UK's nomination. The competition was launched in September 2000, with ten cities bidding to be the European Capital of Culture:
* Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle/Gateshead and Oxford.In the final stage of the competition, which involved a more detailed analysis of the bids, LIVERPOOL managed to beat off strong competition to win the bid !
Glasgow held the title of European City of Culture in 1990, with Dublin holding it a year later in 1991. The title ably assisted both cities in terms of their respective regenerations.
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