Tales from Italy ch.8: SPRING BREAK! Part 2- Chester, Liverpool, and Manchester, England
The day we were to leave Durham, England, where we were staying with my friend, Kirsty, we made a stop at Sainbury’s to do a bit of grocery shopping for lunch and had breakfast. Janelle and I had a 6 hour 20 minute bus ride ahead of us, and I couldn’t possibly imagine going for that long without food; I can barely make 30 minutes before my impatient stomach starts growling like a spoiled child.
On our way to the bus stop, we passed by New Castle’s proud Angel of the North. Basically it’s this giant statue that stands on its own in the middle of a field.
Our god-awful-long bus ride wasn’t as bad as one would think. We were a little worried at the beginning though when our bus driver got into a heated argument with one of the passengers who he was now refusing and had to be held back as we were boarding. It was very unprofessional and uncomfortable for all us other passengers to witness. Aside from our crazy driver though, I had my ipod going most of the time, slept, ate, and stared at the hundreds of sheep we must have passed on the way. Kirsty said the numbers of sheep herds I saw would grow as we went further south, but I disagree; at least from what I saw, the north is coated with far more numbers. I’ll never forget this one herd though- the farmer, for whatever reason, spray-painted all of his sheep hot pink. Keep in mind there were at least 100 sheep; that’s a lot of work. Nonetheless, I’ll carry with me that memory of my favorite hot pink herd of sheep bounding over the mountain for the rest of my days.
Around 8 that night, the bus pulled into the Chester bus station where we met up with my friend, Lauren. She and her mom cooked us a lovely meal, our second home-cooked meal since leaving the states in February. That night, I enjoyed a warm shower and internet access- with Skype- before heading to bed. Such a wonderful night after a long day of travel.
The next day, Janelle, Lauren, and I were off to Liverpool where we’d meet up with my friend, Emma, but not before seeing some of Chester. Prior to my trip, I hadn’t heard much of Chester, but it is quite a lovely town. Surrounding it is this wall that is hundreds of years old, and you can walk on it and see some stunning sights. We saw the Chester Cathedral and much of Chester’s inner streets. One thing I noticed was all the fine detail the town’s builders took into consideration when they built the town. For example, one of the Cathedral’s doors had gorgeous iron trees (I would LOVE to have iron trees on the doors of my own house someday), and one of the buildings had all these miniature designs carved into its grid-like pattern.
After we were done in Chester, the three of us drove to Liverpool. Aside from the birthplace of the Beatles, my favorite band, I didn’t know much about Liverpool and what it had to offer. Don’t get me wrong though, the town definitely throws the Beatles in your face all day, and it’s easy to see how natives like my friend, Emma, were tired of them. But me, the touristy-girl and Beatles-fan that I am, took advantage of this. I visited Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, the homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and the famous Cavern Club where it all began.
But Liverpool had a lot more to it. Did you know the Titanic was built here? The building still stands, cute as a candy cane, and I can hardly believe how such a place managed to build a ship as colossal as the Titanic.
Liverpool is also one of the origins of the African slave trade in the UK and Europe. It was here in this port, that ships carrying slaves entered for centuries.
Liverpool has a legend that if the Liverpool Bird falls (the one seen in the picture below), Liverpool will fall too. Notice all the extra suspension it’s given as a caution?
Like many cities in Europe, Liverpool has its fair share of cathedrals and churches. Yet the ones I saw stood out. The first picture below is of a modern-day church; it is unlike any of the other churches I have seen since coming to Europe, probably because it is the youngest.
Unlike the modern church above, other cathedrals that closer resemble the churches I’ve seen still make themselves known. The giant one you see below was never finished thanks to WWII.
This church below is the saddest of the three. Bombed in WWII, the remains are left standing as a memorial and reminder of what happened.
At the end of the day, Emma’s parents drove Janelle and I to Wilmslow, England where we were to stay with my friend, Nicola. It was about a 45-minute drive, during which I experienced the famous ‘scouse’ accent thanks to Emma’s parents. ‘Scouse’ is the unique Liverpool accent, and boy is it heavy. There were sometimes I barely understood what they were saying at all and Emma had to translate. I think accents are so cool.
When we got to Wilmslow, Nicola and her boyfriend, Darren, took us out to dinner at a popular English bar called Weatherspoons. After dinner, we took it easy since Janelle and I were pretty pooped from our touring that day throughout Chester and Liverpool. I had a shower and we watched the TV show, ‘Balls of Steel.’ I was really excited about this because I am a big fan of ‘Neg’s Urban Sports,’ a segment of this show, which my friends and I discovered on YouTube about a year ago. To my luck, Neg ended up winning that night, and it just made the show even better. One of my favorite Neg clips.
The next morning, Nicola made us “real English bacon.” She wanted to show me how good bacon could be after eating the dry, hard bacon we were served at the camp where we met. I’ll give her credit; “real English bacon” is delicious.
After breakfast, we went into town. The first thing we did was go to the post office to ship Janelle’s computer- she had been trying to do that since we arrived in Scotland almost a week earlier. Why didn’t she just send it from Italy where we live you ask? Because when she tried, they handed her a paper manila envelope to mail her laptop in and offered no insurance. And people think I’m full of it when I say not to trust the Italian postal service…
Once her computer was dropped off, we started touring Manchester. One of our first stops was Skytop- this oddly shaped building that we had actually passed on our way to Chester. It was funny because from the bus, Janelle and I took pictures of how strange this building was, and now we had the chance to go in it!
We also took some time to do a little shopping. Nicola took us to Primark, a store on par with Walmart or Target in the US minus the groceries. It was lots and lots of clothes at cheap prices. Nicola said it was great for this, but at the same time you end up seeing a lot of people wearing the same clothes as you. This didn’t stop me or Janelle though- since there are no Primarks at home or in Italy, we had no risk of seeing our purchases on other people, so we played out the stereotypical shopping girls and took full advantage of where we were. This of course was speaking too soon, for as we exited the store, bags in hand, I took a moment to think about how much I liked this shirt I saw a woman wearing; it was only about 2 seconds before I realized I had that same shirt in my bag of purchases.
For lunch I had pasties– another British meal I could cross off my list of things to try while in the UK. While good, I think I still enjoy my mother’s homemade Cornish pasties more, but this could just be my own Cornwall-ancestry pride coming out. Nah, hers are better, complete with potatoes and vegetables 🙂
The rest of the afternoon we spent at the Museum of Science and Industry. It was really cool- we saw lots of old planes and trains, and a bit of Manchester history which included its history of sewage systems:
On our way back to her apartment, we passed by Castlefield, a small group of the bases of ancient Roman houses. While barely there, they were there, after 1,000 years of who knows what. It’s interesting to think of all the things these ruins could have seen in that time.
That evening, we met up with Emma and her dad again and drove to the Liverpool airport where we were to fly to Dublin that evening. The flight was only 40 minutes; by the time we had finished ascending, we were already descending. It was the shortest flight I had ever been on, but thankfully it only cost me 8 euros. God, I love Ryanair.
Within an hour of taking off, we had our bags and were out the door of the airport and our Dublin adventure began.