It’s Time to Piss & Moan About Travel (at the end of my blog)
The Purpose of this Trip
If I’m going to be honest, Liverpool, England, was never on my travel wish list. Fortunately for me, I landed at a restaurant in Mexilhoeira Grande, Portugal, and ended up sharing plates with Jane and her son Matthew, who are from Liverpool (probably my favorite thing about traveling is meeting new people — my friend Gina thinks it’s hilarious that I talk to strangers) . It did not take long for me to be certain that I must travel to this city sooner than later. The pandemic kept me from getting there sooner.
Let me begin by stating that I plan to return to Liverpool sometime in the next year or so. I don’t think I’ll be able to stay away from Jane for too long and there is more there for me to see and experience. It’s not a large city by today’s standards. A half million very friendly and proud residents. It’s easy to get around and has something for everyone.
The airport is about 25 minutes (26 pound taxi) from the centre, but there is a bus you can take for a lot less. Uber is in Liverpool and I used it a lot.
Liverpool, United Kingdom is a direct flight (2.5 hours) from Faro and may end up being what Toulouse is to France in terms of ease and delight for this traveler.
I stayed at Hotel Indigo close to the waterfront in the center. It was everything I wanted and needed: great mattress, soft cotton linen, free snacks and beverages, quiet, and affordable. I’m not sure I’ll ever stay anywhere else. It also has a steakhouse. I had the ribs and some onion rings and both were excellent — I can’t speak for the steak, but Jane said it was good and I trust Jane.
Liverpool loves the Beatles, as well they should. Beatles “stuff” is everywhere. Buildings, roads, etc.; the names of the four Beatles are everywhere. I cannot think of a more successful and fantastic band to celebrate. If you loved the Beatles, listen to the Beatles, care even a little bit about the Beatles, go to Liverpool. Sir Paul McCartney is especially revered. Take a Beatles tour (I used Airbnb because I trust they’ll always be good). The Beatles have given back to Liverpool over and over and over again, and a couple of them still do. I won’t go into the band here. I liked the Beatles, but I would not say I was ever a devoted fan. Their existence only enhanced my time there.
I read about Turtle Bay Restaurant before my trip to Liverpool. My friend Jane and her children confirmed my choice. Jane and I went to their Victoria Street location (there is one on Hanover) and we both ordered the fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, cajun spiced fries and passion fruit martinis. I don’t get to eat like this in Portugal. When I return to Liverpool, I will return to Turtle Bay.
Ban Di Bul Korean Restaurant is the real deal if you enjoy Korean BBQ or other Korean fair. The atmosphere, service, and food were all terrific. As a lover of all things Korean, Jane made me very happy with this restaurant choice.
There were other eateries on this trip, but as I’ve said before, I only share the exceptional ones. There are many excellent coffee shops for all of us coffee lovers.
For a small city, I have to say there were almost more museums that churches — not on your life. But seriously there is a very modern and large museum dedicated just to the city of Liverpool. The Museum of Liverpool is worth a visit (my next trip for sure). There is the Tate, Maritime, Beatles, World, and so many more. The Public Library is also a beautiful building with several collections worth seeing. I was impressed and overwhelmed. Three days of sightseeing was not enough for me.
There are several famous music venues and live music can be found in many places throughout the city on any given day.
The Sun (the daily newspaper)
There was a football fans incident (The Hillsborough Disaster) that occurred in the UK that I’m not familiar with; 1989. Apparently The Sun (UK publication) blatantly lied about what happened and now you cannot get Britain’s largest daily newspaper anywhere in Liverpool — I love that. The Guardian will tell you what you need to know: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2004/jul/07/pressandpublishing.football1.
I learned that the United States very first Consulate was in Liverpool. There are a lot of firsts to be celebrated in Liverpool: first school for the blind, first rugby club, first shot from the U.S. Civil war came from a gun made in Liverpool, and so many more.
What I Hate About Traveling These Days
I’m going to make a list because I love lists and I’m afraid that I might go-off and write more than I should about each dreaded gripe:
- COVID-19 has been the cause (or supposed cause) of many cancellations. I’m never quite certain I will actually get to fly. And everything gets blamed on the virus: no remote for your hotel room TV? Must be COVID.
- Forms — you need to have proof that you have trimmed your toe nails and a doctor has seen them and the government has signed off on it.
- Security lines are unpredictable. I went to Faro airport two hours before my flight and the security line was an hour long; wrapped around so many times I wasn’t sure I’d get through it the same day as my flight. I hate lines in general; I am not a cow or a Navy man, I prefer fluid motion to gathering in a herd. Hate to queue-up for sure.
- Liquids. A woman in front of me had a 5 ounce bottle of a prescription fluid she couldn’t live without. It took her 15 minutes to find the prescription. Had she not considered they’d want to see that piece of paper? Could she really harm the passengers with a squirt of eye medicine? Would one less ounce (allowable) have really made a difference? Is this part of how our governments control us?
- Masks. Sometimes you have to wear them and sometimes you don’t. Three hundred people on a plane and all the masks come off when it’s feeding time; I guess the virus just hides out while we chow down.
- Costs have gone up considerably; some of it is justified and some of it isn’t. What I hate is that when some of the supply chain issues are resolved, the costs will probably not come down. My Uber driver here in Faro told we he reserved a car in Florida for a week and it will be $1400 (Insurance incl.) — crazy.
- Boarded-up restaurants — the internet will tell you that a certain restaurant is open, but you venture there and it is shut down due to that awful virus — always call first.
- Customer service isn’t what it once was. I imagine every generation says this about the service people that come after them, but I honestly believe it’s true. I think social media has destroyed customer service. There was a time when businesses cared what people had to say; they’ve been burned so many times, now they just seem to do whatever they need to do to survive. Cynical I know, however, as a seasoned traveler, I have noticed a change and I don’t like it.
I have been invited on a Portuguese “residents only” trip to wine country. This will be my first time traveling with Portuguese friends from Faro. There will be a big bus and two days of adventure. I’m anxious to see what Portuguese people enjoy in their own country.
Toulouse and Bordeaux April 12. Berlin, Amsterdam, Geneva, Milan, Nantes in the next few months and a cruise through Northern Europe in October. Lots of travel writing to share in the future.
I apologize for spelling errors in my blog. I publish to share my experiences with you and I don’t have a great deal of time to spend on editing. I want this to remain a pleasant experience for me.