The last time I went to Liverpool was via a 5am train for the purpose of a university open day. With my ex. It was cold, damp and dull all day, and I fled, excessively disappointed and swearing to never return. But that was over a year ago, and I'm a different person now, with a better eye for detail and a yearning lust to delve into new architecture, culture and whatnot.
I arrived at Liverpool Coach Station in something of a transcendental, unfamiliar state. I didn't sleep a wink last night, and after futile attempts with sleeping pills, going to the toilet and reading, resorted to watching several episodes of Dexter with my housemates, who also happened to be awake. At 4.30 in the morning.
What made the three hour journey exceedingly more bearable and worth forcing my eyes open was the long and leisurely drive through the Snake Pass into Manchester, one of the nation's finest displays of Mother Nature's untarnished assets. The fog gave the landscape an eerie edge, appropriate for the Monday morning fatigue.
What struck me about Liverpool, and what persuaded me to visit again, was the amount of museums and galleries. The buildings these are housed in are, in themselves, pieces of art. The Walker Gallery is a grand, quite intimidating structure of columns and high steps, as is its neighbour, the World Museum. The red-brick Tate Liverpool and the abstract Museum of Liverpool (rammed full with the city's history, with, of course, special displays for The Beatles) are located on the docks, a surefire tourist and selfie hit; but the backdrop has a more tranquil and understated effect that one would not initially expect from an area used so regularly.
The Liverpool air is thick with an immense pride of cultural heritage juxtaposed with welcome modernity that emits through the fusing of the contemporary and trendy (Tate, various shopping centres) with the eternally admired (St. George's Hall, Maritime Museum). I think what I came to realise about Liverpool was not only that I judged it way too harshly the first time round, but that it's actually a rather beautifully laid back city centre that avoids the cluster or hustle and bustle seen in places like Manchester. It's not somewhere you go for a big blow out; it's somewhere you go for a pleasant trip away, to educate yourself, to appreciate art and heritage, and to surprise yourself with a new-found feeling of actually being jealous at how pretty a building can be.
The Tate//One of the 'living room' installations
Andy Warhol in the 'Living Room' section of
"Josephine Butler (nee Grey, 1828-1906) was a social reformer
in the cause of women. She lived in Liverpool while her husband
was Principal of Liverpool College. Butler worked on behalf of
prostitutes. She established refuges, fought successfully for the repeal of
the Contagious Diseases Acts and campaigned against the white slave trade."
Walker Art Gallery