When Aleah and I first arrived in Liverpool, one thing was clear: locals were always disappointed to hear we’d only come in search of Beatles sites. Every time we said, “We came ’cause we’re huge Beatles fans!” we’d get a groan and an, “Alright,” and we’d always feel a bit awkward. But after spending 4 days in Liverpool, we now know how justified the groans were. Liverpool is so much more than Paul McCartney’s childhood home (though that is quite the resume builder). Here are some things you might not know about Liverpool that make it an incredible city regardless of its Beatles heritage.
1. The Museums
Liverpool is home to tens of fabulous museums, all of which are free, and all of which are interactive, informative, beautiful and fascininating. While Aleah and I were there, we made it to The International Slavery Museum, the Tate Liverpool, The Merseyside Maritime Museum and the Museum of Liverpool, among others. To my delight, I noticed just how many
teenagers with saggy pants and hair in their faces were in the museums with their friends on a Saturday afternoon, reading up on the Captain’s Log from the Titanic, or slavery over the years in Uzbekistan. Aleah and I had gone to a museum in Cobh, Ireland called The Titanic Experience, and that cost 10 Euros to see, while this museum was not only free, but 10 times more informative and fascinating. Liverpool has a rich and fascinating history that it displays with great pride in its museums. Aleah is a much bigger museum buff than I am, and she spent 2 hours in the Museum of Liverpool reading up on Liverpool’s history and only left because it was closing time. “It’s one of the best museum’s I’ve been to ever—not even just as a free museum.” It
really made me feel like every city should have a free museum available to the public about its history. Locals should not only know things like that, but they also probably want to know, and luckily enough in Liverpool, they have a beautiful, interactive, informative location to learn.
2. The Architecture
I was so surprised to find Liverpool as visually stunning as it was. The crazy Beatles fan that I am, any time I looked up pictures of Liverpool, it was always of Penny Lane, or McCartney’s childhood home, so I’d never gotten any sense of the beauty of Liverpool’s city proper—but any street you walk down in Liverpool is flush with beautiful buildings, picturesque streets and stunning artwork—like statues or paintings or memorials. It’s easy to get caught up walking down the sidewalk with your head turned skyward, trying to take in your surroundings and forget which direction the cars are coming from. (Damn the UK driving rules!) Luckily, I’m still alive, and trying to spread the word: run to Liverpool! Don’t walk!
3. The Shopping
If you’re looking to spend money in Liverpool, you won’t be disappointed. The streets are filled with boutiques ranging from high-fashion to used and recycled. There is a gigantic, 4 story mall that commands the center of the city and opens out onto the street on every floor. It’s overwhelming for the shopping-challenged like myself. I always need someone with fashion sense with me while I’m doing my shopping, or else I’m completely lost. This mall has probably been in a dream my little sister has had…
4. The Music
Do I even need to go into detail here? Not only is this the city that bred and raised The Beatles, but it is also home to The Cavern Club, a venue that helped give The Beatles their start. The venue is littered with paraphernalia and plaques commemorating the musical giants that have graced its caves. There’s music playing there 24/7—like any club that is true to the mandate of rock ‘n’ roll should. The day we visited The Cavern Club, we arrived at 2 pm and there was a band already three quarters of the way through its set. Granted, that day it was a duo performing sub-par covers of timeless Beatles classics, but
honestly, at the end of the day, isn’t any cover of a Beatles’ song inherently sub-par? (I’m super biased, I know!) But it’s not just The Cavern Club in Liverpool that fosters great music. Go into any pub on any evening and you’ll find jazz bands playing, blues bands playing, rock bands playing—go to any cafe in the evening and find poetry slams, folk music, you name it! It is certainly a land for the left brainers.
5. The People
As our Couchsurfing host, Ray, told me after I asked him what a fanfare Liverpool must make when the Beatles return to the town, “we’re an Egalitarian people, Emilia. If anyone was to see Paul McCartney at a pub in the evenin’, we’d nudge him on the shoulder and say, ‘Buy me a drink, you rich bastard!'” It’s an equality Aleah and I felt the whole time we were in Liverpool. Of all the places we’d been to at that point (and even since!) we felt the least judged for being tourists. The first day we arrived there and were roaming the streets aimlessly, holding our luggage, desperately looking for Marmaduke Street, the first gentleman who walked by us stopped and asked us if we needed him, took out his phone and spent the next 10 minutes patiently helping us figure out where we needed to go. It’s no wonder everyone loved the Beatles so much—they couldn’t help but be Liverpuddlian!
6. The Public Library
The Liverpool Central Library is a thing of beauty. Not only is it architecturally magnificent, but it is constantly filled with people—and not just homeless people either! Real, tax paying people, who actually
just want to read, or are hungry for knowledge, or who want to meet with their study groups at the lovely café situated on the ground floor of this 6-story library with winding, wooden staircases. It’s located in the center of the city, which sends an excellent message that knowledge should be central to any society. Clearly, in Liverpool, knowledge is a priority, and it shows!
So, ultimately, what I’m trying to say is, if you’re coming to Liverpool, make sure you budget time for a lot of things that have nothing to do with The Beatles—and this coming from the biggest Beatles fan this side of the Atlantic!