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November 19, 2012

England: Liverpool

Liverpool One’s escalator at night

By reputation rain is inevitable on any visit to England.  In truth it doesn’t rain as often as advertised.  Sunny days are not that uncommon, or so we hear.  Still “rain, heavy at times” is not an unfamiliar forecast to the Brits.  And as the calendar ticked over from spring to summer and we moved north out of Wales we found ourselves immersed in stereotypical British weather.  Rain, indeed heavy at times, followed us into Liverpool.

Purists might argue that Liverpool is best seen in its familiar wet overcast shroud.  We’re not purists.  The rain was a drag on our short stay.  Fortunately by chance our visit plans involved the comfort of two car tours.

Our first tour came courtesy of a recently retired city planner.  In Liverpool, as in many cities, modernization challenges conservation.  Hearing the perspective of a person involved in the redevelopment process is a great way to discover the urban history of Liverpool and the chance to be shown around Liverpool by a city planner was a unique and informative opportunity.  Our next tour was far more common.

The world knows of Liverpool because of the Beatles.  And even today a Beatles tour is virtually a requirement for every tourist.  Indeed I half expect that a constable will soon be checking each tourist as they leave the city.  If you don’t haven’t seen John and Paul’s childhood homes you will not be allowed to leave the Liverpool.  Not being ones to buck a trend or risk detention, we too took a tour.

As we returned to our hotel from our city tour, the driver for the Fab Four Taxi Tour was waiting.  “Taxi tour” is not a misnomer; when not taking tourists past the hangouts of John, Paul, Ringo, and George, our driver will pick up paying customers and take them to the airport or whatever destination they prefer.

With an enthused and well-practiced narration aided by a page worn picture book and snippets of songs played over the cab’s stereo, the driver took us past the locations made famous by the Beatles.  Places like Strawberry Fields, Eleanor Rigby’s grave, and Penny Lane passed outside the taxi’s windows.  It is interesting to see the locations mentioned in so many Beatle’s hits.  But there is one problem; the places are more romantic in the songs than in person.  The gritty reality of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields does not match the electrified mental vision experienced when listening to the songs.  Now when I hear “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” I’ll visualize a car filled suburban road and an overgrown patch of grass behind a graffiti coated gate.  That’s a definite downgrade.

Liverpudlians or Scousers, as the locals are known, feel that their city has been maligned and overlooked.  They feel, probably rightly, that Liverpool has undergone a Renaissance.  The city is no longer the rough and dirty port city it was as the Beatles came of age.  Instead Liverpool now combines historic sections worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage listing with super modern development like Liverpool One.  It’s a tricky compromise that, at least for the moment, seems to be working.


  1. Beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing Liverpool with me in such a gorgeous way. The taxi is great!

    Comment by Lori Lipsky — November 19, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

  2. Great shots… 🙂

    Comment by ledrakenoir — November 19, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

  3. […] Liverpool (England, United Kingdom, 2012) […]

    Pingback by The List « Another Header — November 26, 2012 @ 7:22 am

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