Greetings from Liverpool!
It’s been a week since my parents and little sister dropped me off at the Grand Rapids airport. After two connecting flights, a bleary trek through the Frankfurt airport, and over 30 hours without sleep, I’ve spent the last seven days trying to settle into Aigburth Park, where I will be living for the next twelve weeks.
I’ve taken two trips to the City Centre in Liverpool to become familiar with some of the common tourist sites in the city. The first trip was a tour with the entire group of 50+ international and exchange students also studying at Liverpool Hope University, students mostly from the US but also France, Japan, India, and Spain. As we flocked across the city, we joked that we looked like an overgrown group of elementary students on a field trip. Both trips required using the comprehensive bus system in Liverpool, which was a completely new experience for me. We started the afternoon by touring the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, a Catholic Cathedral, and the Liverpool Cathedral, an Anglican Cathedral.
In the Cathedral of Christ the King, light filtered through stained glass windows, trickling down to the modern circular sanctuary in a spattering of blue and golden colors while somber organ music filled the air.
The Anglican Cathedral, which took 74 years to build, was grand and melancholy in appearance. Within, the space was dimly lit with candle light, chandeliers, and magnificent stained glass windows.
I continued to be impressed by the architecture of the city. Old, tall, magnificent, albeit dilapidated, buildings are the norm. As we wandered down Bold Street through throngs of people speaking in rich accents from around the world, we explored the peppering of charity shops (thrift stores) and restaurants. Bold Street feels a bit like a glorified, older version of 8th street during Thursday night street performers in downtown Holland.
People crowded close together, jostling one another. There were food trucks along the streets and the unrelenting Liverpool smells of damp air and chilling rain were garnished by the scent of donuts, chips, and alcohol from the countless pubs. Multiple times, we were stopped by callers handing out pamphlets or petitions. We passed a man performing a show on a unicycle ten feet above the ground. As we neared Royal Albert Dock, the sky darkened and the wind picked up as the gray blanket of clouds released sprinkles of rain.
On Saturday, after exploring more of the shops on Bold Street and Lord Street, I visited the Maritime Museum with a few girls from my flat. I learned about the history of Liverpool as a bustling port city and its involvement in the horrors of the slave trade, something the city has been reconciling in the last decade. We spent several hours in the museum, but it closed before we covered two of the floors. Certainly something I will be returning to in the future.
The Museum overlooks the River Mersey which is also lined by The Three Graces. The Three Graces are iconic Liverpool buildings which were constructed in the gothic style during the early twentieth century.
I was captivated by the city skyline at sunset. Across the river, the setting sun pierced the gray clouds like a rose-colored hammer and coral light scattered across the silhouette of the hard industrial skyline.
There are so many opportunities within the City Centre to explore: museums, art galleries, pubs, restaurants, and endless shops. My happy places though are the quiet spaces away from the noise and the smells, places where the leaves in the park are bejeweled by raindrops or where the breeze tumbles across wide open fields or where the light filters through the window of a quaint coffee. I hope to discover those hidden places too.
New Scouse Word: “Scouse” Scouse is a meal composed of leftover roast vegetables and meat that is popular at restaurants around the UK, but specifically served in Liverpool’s many pubs. Scouse also refers to the thick accent of people from Liverpool while a scouser is a native of Liverpool (though not everyone likes to be called a scouser). During my first meal in one of the pubs, I ordered Scouse. It was flavorful and rich, so heavy I couldn’t finish it!
Kodak Moment: The rainbow over the orange brick apartments and shops on Aigburth Road during my first walk in the neighborhood around Aigburth Park.
Someone new I met: So many people! The first Scouser I spoke to was Paul, the taxi-cab driver who picked me up from the airport. He thought he was looking for a “bloke” since the University told him he would be collecting a “Noel” which is most often a male name in the UK.
Word(s) of the week: Anticipation (and exhaustion)!