We left Scotland on our loop and made the trip down back into England to spend five days in Manchester and Liverpool. Only an hour apart, both cities have a history of being rough, industrial towns that were heavy in ship building, coal, iron, and blue-collar work. The cities still partially represent those past characteristics, however both have their own personalities that you can easily see after spending some time there.
We arrived in Manchester on a Thursday, and having only one full day to explore, set out immediately to check out the city. We wandered the modern downtown and found ourselves at “The Printworks,” a past industrial building now full of bars, restaurants, and shopping. From those of you from the Midwest, it felt like a miniature Kansas City Power and Light District that is held completely indoors. While sitting at a pub there, we made plans to check out John Rynald’s Library the following day.
After a quick first night in Manchester, we woke up at a decent time Friday to go view the (free!) John Ryland’s Library. The library was opened to the public in 1900 and
houses a number of first volume/edition prints, even one of Gutenberg’s first edition Bibles. The smell of old books and the ornate carvings of the architecture truly are worth the visit. Most of the books we found were from the 16th and 17th century: shelved from head to toe in the church-like atmosphere of the library. We were lucky enough to be there during a short-term exhibition of Martin Luther that had numerous letters, books, speeches, etc. written by or inspired by Martin Luther. Very, very interesting to say the least. Abby and I found the hand-written letters from Luther, letters from King Henry VIII of England in response to Luther, and many Popes’ letters addressing the Reformation the most interesting.
After viewing the free library, we made the short five minute walk to the free National Football Museum. We are not huge on the history of soccer, but being another free museum with some time to kill, we decided to pop in for a short time. The museum was very orientated towards children, with plenty of games to keep us occupied during our time there. The long day of wandering around and checking out the sights led us to a “haunted” bar, called The Shakespeare, where we sat down for the evening for drinks and food before returning home to prepare for our departure on Saturday.
While at The Shakespeare the night before, we noticed that Manchester United and Liverpool would be playing on Saturday at noon. We planned our departure for the afternoon so that we could catch arguably one of the greatest rivalries in all sports. We sat down at The Shakespeare for some lunch and true “football.” The bar was hopping, filled with “ohhhhs and awes” and the game led to plenty of excitement for us; being in Manchester while they were playing in Liverpool. However, the game unfortunately ended in a draw! We then hopped on our bus for a short ride to Liverpool where we would spend the rest of our time.
We were pretty buzzed when we arrived in Liverpool, having several drinks at the pub in Manchester and not much food in our stomach. Lucky for us, our AirB&B host picked us up at the bus stop to take us to our home for the next few days. We spent our first night indoors, grabbing a quick supper of kebabs and doing laundry and catching up on our blogging. We woke up at a good time the following day, feeling rested and refreshed. Sunday we made the walk downtown and made our first stop at Great George Square. The square is full of museums and old buildings which would be our reference point for a lot of our time in Liverpool. We had one thing on our mind from George Square…where are The Beatles?! Strolling towards the center of town (and for most of our time in Liverpool), we had nothing but Beatles songs stuck in our heads. We hummed our way to Mathew Street and found The Cavern Club where we The Beatles got their start. Besides Liverpool football, the city definitely plays off of it’s roots in The Beatles.
Soaked up in Beatles folklore, we made our way to the Albert Docks. These Victorian docks are full of history, whether it be the huge port that gave Liverpool it’s start, the largest slave-trading port of Europe during the 18th and 19th century, or the history it holds with two of the largest ships of the early 20th century: the Lusitania and the Titanic. Abby and I started our time wandering the docks, taking pictures and exploring the area. We then went into the (free!) Slavery and Maritime Museum. We learned so much, and had no idea how big of a role Liverpool held in those two events. The city was the largest port of slave trading throughout Europe and the New World. Being located on a main waterway so close to Africa led to a large economy during disgusting times. Following the end of slavery, Liverpool still held a major role in the maritime industry, with close ties to the Lusitania and Titanic. Briefly the largest passenger ship in the world, the RMS Lusitania was built and moored in Liverpool before it set out on it’s maiden voyage and was sunk by German U-Boats in WWI. The Titanic was a Liverpool registered ship, with it’s headquarters, White Star Line, being located there. Most of the crew on the Titanic was employed from Liverpool. The Albert Docks are probably the most historical part of Liverpool, except for The Cavern Club and Beatles, of course.
After leaving there, we made our way to the largest cathedral in world. The Liverpool Cathedral was finished in 1904. It is GIGANTIC. You can see it from all over the city, but until you are standing next to it you just cannot believe how massive this place is. After taking a walk around and checking it all out, we made our way to a pub to end our night. We found Lanigan’s, an Irish pub, with NFL Football on, a live band, AND cheap drinks. It checked all of our boxes and we were there for quite some time before stumbling our way home on that Sunday night.
Our last day in Liverpool came and we decided to hit the few stops that we haven’t seen yet, while repeating some others. Located five minutes away from our apartment was the Everton Football Club stadium, the “People’s Club.” But, lucky for us, one of the most famous football (soccer) stadiums was only 15 minutes away. We walked to Anfield, home of Liverpool F.C., where “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” We viewed the stadium and made our way back to the center of town to check out their (free!) World Museum on Great George’s Square. The museum had an awesome aquarium, where I had to peel Abby away from the fun cuttlefish display. After checking out the awesome mummy room (one of the best mummy displays we have seen) and the prehistoric (dinosaurs!) floor, we grabbed some supper and made our way back home to prepare for our departure the following day.
A lot of people identify with sports, and in Manchester and Liverpool it isn’t any different. However, after visiting both Manchester and Liverpool, we found ourselves identifying with the “liver bird” and being more of a “wank, not a Manc!” (or as the saying goes). But in our defense, we love music and being close to the water, and Liverpool is exactly that.