When I’m only in a city for three days, sure I feel the pressure to see all the things—but mainly my focus is eating all the foods and drinking all the drinks. I’m only human, right? And Liverpool, from the brief research I had done prior to my arrival, was not hurting when it came to culinary offerings–making three days and two nights not nearly enough for a city with so many booming neighborhoods. But what I really was most fascinated by was the glimpse I was getting into the art in Liverpool, which it turned out, takes on many different faces.
But I had to be strategic. I’d already had an awesome meal at Titanic Hotel’s gorgeous Stanley Bar & Grill, a nice coffee break at 92 Degrees and a filling lunch at the Liverpool One Bridewell. How was I to round out my final night in the city before heading onto Manchester?
The artistic food in Liverpool
The initial plan was to go to Pen Factory for a three-course feast—only I arrived to find the restaurant closed on Sunday nights. No bother, I’m easily adaptable, particularly when traveling on my own, so I whipped out my phone and opened up the Yelp app. I would not be wasting a meal, there was no doubt about it. After scrolling through several reviews that didn’t seem quite what I was looking for, I stumbled upon Puschka, which had stellar reviews and—bonus!—was just four blocks away.
Liverpool’s most famed resident: the gin
The plan for the evening had been to go to the iconic Philharmonic for a nightcap, but I was on strike two when I found out it was closed till the end of the month for renovations. Again, flexibility is key when traveling, and I had heard great things about the Belvedere Arms, so off I went in search of this local watering hole.
It was a bit tricky to find since the entrance was tucked away off of Falkner Street and the exterior of the pub wasn’t marked. I pushed the door open, and it went silent: A dozen middle-aged British men turned to stare at me.
“Uh…are you open?” I asked, a bit tentatively.
“Honey, we’re always open!” one of them chuckled, and then stopped to ponder a) why an American girl was wondering into the Belvedere at 9pm on a Sunday alone and b) why she was armed with a massive camera and photographing her every sip. I guess bloggers are an anomaly in this part of the world!
I sat down and ordered my second Liverpool Gin & Tonic of the day; I’ve been on a gin kick for the past year, and it just so happened the owner of the Belvedere also owns Liverpool Gin, a boutique spirits company that launched three years ago and is just picking up steam in the UK.
Even better, but the Belvedere landlord/master distiller, John O’Dowd, happened to be present, and after awhile, we got to talking about his plans for expansion, as well as the history of the pub (John Lennon used to frequent it, apparently; no surprise, as there’s nowhere in this town the Beatles didn’t go!).
John was lovely, and I could have spent all night chatting him up. That “quick” nightcap turned into three G&Ts—they make them with Valencia orange and mint or watermelon and juniper berries here in Liverpool; how fun is that?—turned into me accompanying a retired postman, a part-time chef/part-time musician and a horse handler down the street to the Grapes for jazz night. I was tired, it was midnight and I had deadlines the next day, but who am I to pass up a true local’s experience? I’d sleep when I got home two weeks later…
I managed to finish one story at least about 3am after I rolled in from the bar, then woke up at 8 for a special mission of sorts. The one thing I had read up on before arriving in Liverpool that I knew I would not leave without accomplishing was visiting artist Antony Gormley’s Another Place.
I mean, have you ever seen anything so simultaneously cool and ominous?
Seeing the sculptures of Liverpool
That morning, however, the driver I had arranged the previous night didn’t arrive—in retrospect, maybe hiring a cabbie at a pub at 1am wasn’t the best idea in the world (but he swore he’d be there on time!)—and it was getting close to high tide, so I checked in with Brian, the concierge at the Titanic Hotel, and he called his friend Peter to come pick me up. Score!
At 20 pounds round trip, it wound up being less to hire a driver to take me to and from Crosby than it did to take a taxi to the train station, the train out to the beach, the train back from the sculptures and then a cab back to my hotel again. And at a 15-minute drive, if that, I also saved a lot of time, too.
Plus, Peter was so kind and told me to take my time, that he’d be there waiting whenever I was ready. He may have also asked me (nicely) to refrain from getting sandy.
“Oh sure, I’m just going to step out on the sand and take a quick picture or two and then I’ll be back,” I assured him.
Clearly, I’m great at taking instructions. Don’t worry: I did clean myself off thoroughly before getting back into his fancy BMW!
The walk from the parking lot out to the beach took around 15 minutes and started on a paved trail before gradually turning into a sandy path. It had started raining right as we neared Crosby, so I took an umbrella with me that Peter kindly loaned me, then it miraculously cleared as I stepped foot onto the beach.
Once there, I could have used a lot more time than “a few minutes.” Not only is three kilometers—or roughly a mile and a half—on the sand a pretty sizable distance, but every time the sea shifted, the iron men took on a different persona.
Each of the 100 men weighs 650 kilos and is said to be cast from Gormley’s own body. Though they once took up residence in Germany, Norway and Belgium, they’re now on permanent display at Crosby Beach, so you’ll be able to see them at any time you find yourself in Liverpool. And bonus! They’re free to visit.
I had surveyed several locals, many of whom had their own recommendation of timing to go see the statues, but I found out there is no “best time”—high tide or low tide or in between—and it was definitely cool being there closer to high when many of the men were out to sea.
That said, I’d love to have been able to wade a bit further out, so next time, low tide it is!
Peter wound up making my last day in Liverpool an amazing one—once he dropped me back off at the hotel, it was time to hightail it to the train station for my trip to Manchester.
For more England travel tips, explore these posts:
- Albert Dock in Liverpool: The Story of a Waterfront Renaissance
- It Turns Out Hogwarts Does Exist — at John Rylands Library
- Up in the Clouds: The View from Manchester’s Sky Bar
- Wit & Whimsy: Art in Manchester, England’s Cultural Hub
- Welcome to Gotham, the Sexiest Hotel in England
- Art & Design in the Vibrant Northern Quarter of Manchester