We’re sitting at a table in a full café, trying to have a conversation, but it sounds like about twenty people are having a hysterical laughing fit behind me. I turn around; there’s three people sitting there. One of the men at the table next to ours is standing up and accidentally kicks my bag a little – “Sorry, lov,” he says. The waiter brings me a huge caesar salad and a plate of potato wedges accompanied by a puddle of much needed garlic mayo. This is my last night here, in Liverpool. And it’s been so lovely.
When half of our friends at university moved to the UK for a few months, or a year, we immediately decided to visit them. Us Anglophiles, we’re not scared of a trip overseas. I am not exactly sure why I didn’t go study somewhere myself, but I guess I really wanted to do a gender minor here – which I didn’t complete, unfortunately. Now I’m perhaps doing my master’s degree abroad.
Anyhow, Liverpool. My friend and I flew Amsterdam Schiphol – Liverpool John Lennon Airport (yes) last Friday morning and discovered that “lov” is a frequently used term and that it does make you feel lovd. Our classy English taxi brought us to our hotel – owned by a very clichéd Liverpudlian that’s missing some teeth and uses phrases like “bloody ‘ell” – and we completely settled there: big room, kitchen, niiiiiiiice beds thanks.
After this – I can’t properly remember what happened because it’s a big blur of looov and friends flying into each other’s arms and shrieking happy shrieks and fountains and stars appearing from of nowhere and unicorns gallopping along with us.. A joyful reunion. We overloaded them with Sinterklaas gifts and chocolate – which they finished in about five seconds – and sat down in pleasant cafés drinking coffee, cider and beer.
That was basically our (long) weekend: drinking coffee, cider and beer. Walking around. Popping into the Topshop and Urban Outfitters and random vintage shops, not buying anything but touching every glittery dress. This is what I thought I knew about Liverpool beforehand: The Beatles, industrial, and docks. This can be summarized into one film: Across the Universe. This is what I know now: Liverpool isn’t all that industrial, it’s actually very pleasant, has lots of little streets, surrounding the major shopping area, that are filled with coffee houses, vintage shops, cafés, pubs and sweet shops, and sometimes the odd large cathedral or Greek-looking building. The Albert Docks form the main attraction as it’s a beautiful mix of old and new, of cobble stone and water, and of Tate Modern and Beatles museum. There’s a huge yellow duckmarine riding around for tourists and the Liverpudlians came up with these statues of odd creatures called Superlambananas, which look a bit like a very colourful mix of a cow and a dinosaur’s tail. It’s trendy to leave hair curlers in one’s hair and scare unknowing tourists with this.
Going out is a different story. I thought of the image I had in my mind, of English girls wearing skimpy dresses covered in glitter and boobs, showing a set of orange tanned legs and a heavily make-upped face, crawling drunkenly through cobble stoned alleys. Well, the people I saw looked far from this: they looked like they were all going to expensive galas, wearing glittery, but sophisticated, cocktaildresses and extremely high, but again sophisticated, heels. And no coats. Because in Liverpool when you go out clubbing, no cloak rooms exist. Just hold on to your heavy winter coats and scarfs and no dancing will come of this, so of course we threw our belongings on a pile in a vague corner of the room. Vodka lime will here be changed into a ‘vodka lemonade’, or something really sweet, but doable and not too expensive. Beers come by the whole pint – they don’t do half pints – so half of our group were staggering a bit when we took our taxis home.
Conclusion: I love Liverpool. The atmosphere is great and you’re in for a few surprises concerning accent and weird fashion trends.
Tips: Call a taxi instead of hailing a street cab, they are so much cheaper! Buy a day ticket on the bus if you’re a bit farther from the centre, like we were: also cheap. And finally: go to Tesco’s and find out about these ice lollies called Helter Skelters, what do they taste like?