Even though I will never tire of all that my home city of London has to offer, I’m also keen to travel and explore other places as well. Yet I’ve never fancied going on holidays by myself. Some people love doing that, and I’m well aware that there are companies that enable visually impaired people to do so. But I much prefer to go away with people I know. It’s much more sociable and fun as well as helpful.
And now I have someone very special to go on adventures with – my girlfriend Claire. The prospect of expanding my geographical horizons and sharing new experiences with her is a lot more exciting and makes things much easier.
So earlier this month, we had our first trip away, to the city of Liverpool. Claire has been there before, but I hadn’t, so I was very much looking forward to it, as it clearly has a lot to see and do. We could only scratch the surface for 2 days of course. but we certainly packed plenty in and really enjoyed it.
So I thought I’d give you an overview of what we saw there. Rest assured this post isn’t sponsored or endorsed by any companies mentioned here. We simply decided to go there ourselves and we paid our own way for everything. I hope you enjoy reading about it!
Update (September 2019): I’ve also been featured in an article by Age UK Mobility, with a few comments about my visit to Royal Albert Dock. Check it out here – What is the most accessible attraction in the UK?. Welcome to my blog if you’ve arrived here from that page!
We stayed at the Premier Inn in the historic Royal Albert Dock, and they deserve a shoutout because they were very good to us. The lady who greeted us at reception on our arrival was really friendly and helpful, and she kindly booked a taxi back to the station for us when we left. We were also very ably assisted at breakfast to get everything we needed from the buffet, which was great. Indeed, everybody we encountered in Liverpool was friendly, without fail. We felt very welcome.
The hotel is in a prime spot, because The Royal Albert Dock and the surrounding area is effectively a holiday resort in itself, before you even begin to consider the rest of the city. You certainly can’t go hungry, as there’s a wide choice of restaurants, including the delightful Smuggler’s Cove to name one of the places we tried. And there are plenty of shops too, some of which also have delicious treats of their own, as we discovered in Roly’s Fudge. There are also tourist attractions like the Tate Liverpool museum as well. We didn’t go in that museum, although I’d like to one day, but we did visit another one.
The Beatles Story
As a big Beatles fan, as you can see from my reviews of the Sgt Pepper and White Album box sets, I naturally had to visit The Beatles Story, the museum dedicated to the band. It was particularly convenient to go here too, because it’s next door to the Premier Inn. And I don’t mean that in a vague “nearby” kind of way. It literally is right next to the hotel!
And it’s an amazing place, we spent a good couple of hours happily exploring it, learning about one of the most influential and famous pop groups of all time. There’s a huge amount of stuff to look at, covering every aspect of their lives. It’s very atmospheric too, with recreations of key places such as the Cavern Club, so it really feels like you’re walking in their footsteps. And of course there’s lots of their music playing throughout. And towards the end, there’s a room dedicated to each of the group members, detailing what they went on to do after the band broke up. It’s a very comprehensive exhibition.
Everybody gets an audio guide as well, which furnishes you with facts, interviews, videos, photos, etc as you go around. You simply select each section as you enter the different areas. I had trouble finding the numbers in the exhibition itself sometimes, but the guide has a menu system with everything listed, if you can see it. The guide isn’t audio descriptive, and it’s not particularly easy to see if you have poor vision. But if you are able to use it, and thankfully I could just about manage it, it’s well worth it. It really does enhance the experience all the more.
Unsurprisingly, I ended up buying some souvenirs when we left, namely a bag, a couple of t-shirts, a baseball cap, and a couple of fridge magnets. So that was a nice selection to end our visit. If you’re a fan of the Beatles to any extent, I can definitely recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.
River Mersey Walk
The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the city in various different ways, getting a thorough sense of its history, culture and sights. As a first-time visitor, it gave me a great overview.
We did a lot of walking by the River Mersey across both days, enjoying the views and other delights as we went along. For example, among various other things, we discovered:
- The impressive buildings that make up The Three Graces, including the Royal Liver Building.
- The Museum of Liverpool, which has a very unique design. We didn’t go in there, but I would love to on a future visit, it looks really interesting.
- Other attractions like the Wheel Of Liverpool and The Pumphouse pub.
- Docks by the river including Coburg, Queen’s, Salthouse and Canning Docks.
- Large venues such as the M&S Bank Arena for entertainment, and the ACC Liverpool for conferences.
- Memorials to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic and Merchant Navy War Heroes.
- Statues of Billy Fury and Captain Frederic John Walker.
- Decorative sculptures of lambs with banana shaped tails, called Superlambananas, The ones by the Museum Of Liverpool are part of the Eight For 08 installation.
Much like London, there’s something of interest to spot pretty much everywhere you look. And even if you walk past an area twice, it’s possible to see something you didn’t notice before. So our strolls were both pleasant and interesting, and I know there’s so much more that we haven’t yet seen along the whole stretch of the river.
Taking on board the words of another of Liverpool’s musical heroes, we also got on board a ferry across the mersey – the beautifully colourful Dazzle Ferry to be precise. And it was a great experience. It’s amazing how wide the river is, and the views of the city during the cruise are impressive. A very interesting audio commentary plays during the ride as well.
Halfway through the trip, on the opposite side of the river, you can hop off to explore The U-Boat Story. This is a small museum all about life on board the German submarine U-534, which was salvaged and preserved. It’s one of only 4 German World War II submarines in a preserved condition left in the word.
With my eyesight it wasn’t always easy to read things, and I struggled to see when looking through windows into some of the rooms. However, what I was able to read and look at, along with the informatively narrated video footage we watched, was very interesting. The engineering that goes into building submarines like this is very clever, and it’s hard to imagine just how restrictive and uncomfortable life on board must have been. So the exhibition is very enlightening, and I’m glad I had a look around. We then caught the next cruise back to the starting point without a problem.
And finally, back on terra firma, we went on a Liverpool Sights Bus Tour, where half of the top deck has no roof, so you can have an open top experience if you wish. The commentary was delivered live this time, by a very entertaining guy who was both humorous and knowledgable, and also enjoyed chatting to the various passengers.
Starting by The Three Graces, the tour took us past various key sights of Liverpool, including the World Museum, Wellington’s Column, St John’s Gardens with a Hillsborough Memorial just outside, St George’s Hall, the unusually shaped Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, St Luke’s Bombed Out Church, and the beautifully ornate Chinatown Arch. And as a big Queen fan, I was pleased to hear Freddie Mercury’s connection with Liverpool recognised, because he joined a band called Ibex in the city in his pre-Queen days.
It was great to see so many highlights of the city all in one go like this, so it’s well worth doing both the river and bus tours, especially if you’re a new visitor.
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Liverpool, and I’m very grateful and delighted to have shared the experience in such wonderful company. There’s so much going on that you’d need to spend a long time there to see it all. So I have no doubt that we’ll go back there again. If you’re familiar with the city and know of anything we should particularly check out on future visits, do comment below to make me aware. And I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my first adventure there!