Loving Liverpool

20 Feb

Liverpool. Home of Scouse, Brookside, The Beatles and two football clubs, among other highlights. The buzzing city in the North West has so much to see and do. After  5 hour train journey from Portsmouth, I arrived at the Cocoon boutique pod hotel at the International Inn http://www.cocoonliverpool.co.uk/ for a Mother/Daugther weekend break. Located at the top of Renshaw Street, Cocoon it is the ideal base for any weekend stay. Be warned, the clue is in the name – there are no windows and no signal as it beneath ground level. For £25 pppn, you can’t really complain though.

As a bit of a shopaholic, I headed straight down to Livepool One – the shopping mecca. With it’s mix of high street, designer, boutique and home stores, there is something to suit every budget. The shops are open until 8pm every day which was ideal, even if I did buy the majority of my purchases from Primarni! After this, I headed for Victoria Street – a 5 minute walk from Liverpool One with its mix of well-known bars and a few random places. One of my favourites is the Sir Thomas Hotel with its big leather seats, red lighting and an excellent choice of cocktails.

Before I enjoyed the cocktails too much on an empty stomach, I headed back up towards the hotel and enjoyed a gorgeous Greek Mezze at Zorbas http://www.zorbasrestaurant.co.uk/, opposite the bombed-out St Luke;s Church. This included dips, pitta, vine leaves, squid and pickled Octupus – not something I’ll be trying again but at least I can say I have! This was followed by Moussaka and a selection of pork and lamb dishes. Even on an empty stomach I was stuffed so be prepared for a feast!

The next day was spent looking around the dock area. Steeped in maritime history, it has a lot of similarities with Portsmouth, although its redevelopment and architecture is much more stunning. Think a mix of post-modern with original Georgian buildings, including the famous Liver Birds building. This is opposite the Mersey Ferry, which I took a trip on, just because I could, and returned by the underground train. It’s the simple things I enjoyed. The best way to get around is to buy a Saveaway ticket, which looks like a scratchcard, from the travel shop for £4.70 and this includes journeys by bus, train or ferry in Merseyside. It takes 30 minutes on the ferry to get to Birkenhead, and just 5 on the underground.

Once the excitement of the journey had died down, I made my way over to the Museum of Liverpool which only opened last year. Its hard to believe this colossal museum is free. Over three floors, you can find out about the history of the city through key workers in the city, reflecting on how much it has changed, Sport, fashion, culture and how the city has come together through the ages. I only managed to see about a quarter of it in two hours, so be prepared to spend most of your day there if you want to experience it all.

After this, I made my way over to Albert Dock – famous for where This Morning used to be filmed. There is a Tate gallery which is free to enter, and various bars and restaurants. My favourite was Miller and Carter Steakhouse http://www.millerandcarter.co.uk/millerandcarteralbertdock/ just for its £3.95 cocktails everyday 4-8pm – can you sense a theme here? For foodies, Gusto http://www.gustorestaurants.uk.com/restaurants/gusto-liverpool is another favourite of mine along with Circo http://www.circoliverpool.com/ which is a treat for all the senses – particularly if you go to their Freakshow on the last Friday of the month.

Moving on to the night-time, I headed for the Chavasse Park area of Liverpool One and visited the exclusive Palm Sugar Lounge bar http://www.palmsugarlounge.co.uk/with its opulent decor. Be warned, its not cheap but its a must if you only visit the city once. From this, I saw a Thai restaurant through the bar called Chaophraya http://www.chaophraya.co.uk/venues/chaophraya-liverpool/. It takes your breath away as you enter and truly reflected the Orient. All of the food, which is from different regions of Thailand is cooked by Thai chefs. The staff couldn’t have been any more hospitable and ensured everything was satisfactory. I chose the a sharing platter which included Chicken Satay, Duck Spring Rolls and Dumplings. This was followed by a Green Thai Curry which just melted in the mouth.  All in all with a bottle of Prosecco the bill came to around £65 for two.

The fun-filled weekend didn’t stop there. On Saturday, I explored Bold Street, which is a mix of vintage stores, cafes and bars – very cosmopolitan. Soul Cafe http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/soul-cafe-liverpool is well worth a visit if you’re on a budget and serves a huge range of breakfast items and main meals.

My mission for the evening was to find the UK’s best venue, Alma De Cuba http://www.alma-de-cuba.com/. Set inside a stunning converted church, this is one venue you do not want to miss!  It’s gothic, dark interior is brightened by the thick candles, which is the main light source and original stained windows. You can still see the altar steps and imagine where the pews used to be. The Latin-inspired bar features Brazilian dancers at the weekend and an astonishing array of cocktails – the Chocolate Gateau is to die for. You will need to book in advance at the weekend if you wish to dine there. The seating is a balcony style overlooking the impressive former Catholic Church. If you can find it that is – you would never guess from the exterior, the impressiveness that is inside.

Another must-do venue, is Bistro Jacques http://www.bistrojacques.com/, a rustic, intimate French Restaurant, which was a two minute walk from the hotel on Hardman Street. The best steak I have ever tasted was from here so if you enjoy classic French dishes, or want to impress someone, this is the place to be. Afterwards, I continued the night at Hannah’s bar http://www.barhannah.co.uk/ which describes itself as Liverpool’s best kept secret. The music ranged through the decades and the clientele was a mix of all ages which reflected this.

Finally, the weekend came to and end, but not before a well-needed breakfast at Leaf on Bold Street http://www.thisisleaf.co.uk/#/on-bold-street/. The independent tea shop which is inspired by vintage, eclectic pieces, offers a range of teas and food to suit every palette. The Full English Breakfast is a must for £6.50. Pricey, but you can definitely taste the quality. This was washed down with a Turkish Apple tea and prepared me for the journey home.

Liverpool is an easily walkable city which is the best way to explore it as all of the places mentioned were found this way. If you do one thing this year, visit Liverpool and see how many Scouse Brows and girls walking round the city with rollers in their hair you can spot!



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