We wanted to see more of England, not just London and the usual touristy places of Stonehenge and Bath, in the limited time we have so we thought it would be a good idea to meet up with some of my friends. One couple lives in North Yorkshire, another lives in Merseyside.
What to do?
The distance was a problem. It would take 2 hours by train to get to York at the cheapest price of 43 pounds per person according to thetrainline.com. From North Yorkshire to Merseyside, it was going to cost another 49 pounds per person and a 3-hour travel. We proposed meeting in Manchester, halfway between the two places but our friends in York couldn’t make it. So, we purchased the tickets straight to Merseyside.
Before leaving, I wanted to do a bit of shopping. Harrod’s was having its additional 10% off weekend for Harrod’s card members. Unfortunately, the store wasn’t opening until 11.30. Same with all the other retailers. Aaargh.
Since our train departure was at 2:15 pm, we decided to go to Covent Garden. Again, I didn’t read about the place because it wasn’t on our must-see list. Imagine our confusion and disappointment when, instead of finding flowers and plants, we saw – structures. There were buskers entertaining the crowd. A lady was belting out an operatic piece. There was a Sunday-type craft market and rows of retail stores and restaurants, similar to Leadenhall Market.
There were no flowers or trees or even bushes.
Add to that was the 30 pence required to use a dingy public loo underneath the church. The one at the retail store building was much cleaner. Sigh.
Another disappointment was the food. We stopped checking out restaurant reviews and had been popping into places. So far, we hadn’t been disappointed until that day. Wilted greens. Tuna that looked suspiciously out of the can. Soggy calamari.
Quick dash back to the apartment to get our things for an overnight trip and off we went to the Euston train station. Virgin train was the only train going to Merseyside. Platforms were announced 15 minutes before the departure. Because we bought advanced tickets, we had specified seat numbers. People who bought tickets on the day didn’t have specified seat numbers and could seat anywhere.
J and J met us at the train station. From there, we drove to their village and walked to the beach. The weather was warm and sunny enough, allowing us to enjoy the picturesque scene. From there, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant where I had a delicious lasagna and gabbed. J was my former fashion teacher in Australia, one of the best teachers I’ve had. I kept up contact with her over the years.
After dinner, J drove us around the footballer’s street, because of the number of footballers who lived along the street. It was actually called Victoria Street where the rich people lived. One house was currently being built. Based on the land area and the unfinished gym, the house was probably going to look like a mansion. I’m not familiar with footballers so I didn’t think too much of it when J mentioned Steven Gerrard.
One story J told was that there were two golf courses in the village. Gerrard was a member of one but wanted to get to the other, more prestigious one. The snotty members wouldn’t let him because he was a footballer. The golf club was one of those places where parents had to submit the names of their kids at birth for them to be members. I laughed. Yep, it still happens.
The next day, we travelled to Liverpool, home of the Beatles. The place had enough architecture to be of interest to non-Beatles fan. They had the Tate museum and they had Liverpool One for shopping. Liverpool used to be famous for shipbuilding but the industry declined over the years.
For the Beatles fan, the Beatles museum was a fun and informative venue to learn about the Fab Four’s rise to fame. There were enough memorabilia to satisfy fans. At Albert Dock, tourists could take photos with the statues of the Beatles.
I did a bit of shopping at Flannels. Now, I’m very particular about tax refunds when shopping abroad. In Harrods, the minimum purchase was 50 pounds. In Flannels, it was 100 pounds and they ran out of the form.
For lunch, we went to Lunya, a Catalan and Spanish deli restaurant. The food, service, and atmosphere were amazing. The food portions were deceptively small but very filling. Best part was the churros con chocolate. The chocolate was dark and thick and could be drank on its own. The staff were friendly and attentive and there was this fun and lively atmosphere even when there were only two of us at the 2nd floor before more patrons arrived.
The bus station was a bit tricky. We booked megabus on the way back because the train fare back to London was ridiculous. The instruction said to wait at Platform 6 at the Liverpool 1 bus station. The board did not show Mega bus departures only National Rail Bus departures. On the screen was a tiny sign that said Mega bus departed from that bay. H wanted to make sure and inquired from the ticket office. Yep, the Mega bus did depart from there. 5 minutes to 4, the bus arrived.
The bus wasn’t full so we grabbed seats. One passenger nearly got left behind because he rushed out to buy food. Poor guy was probably famished. He was lucky the bus driver had to fix a minor issue or he would have found himself stranded in Liverpool. One hour before we reached London (it was a 5-hour bus ride), we had to change to a double decker bus. Phew. The smell in the bus was a mix of stale food, urine, and sweat. The seats were stained as well. Next time, we’d probably spend a bit more and take the train back.
Next post: shopping and tax refunds.