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4 April 2012

the story

so as i said, i've been verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry busy. for bex's birthday a group of the gals and guys headed up to liverpool for a few action-packed days, with a list of things to tick off the 'must-do' list. we headed out on friday morning from euston, casually parking ourselves in a secluded section of the train, stokkkkked that we had scored such a great area - 8 whole seats to ourselves between us 4, close but not too close to the toilets, windows on both sides and a table for the hoards of reading and eating material we had stashed in bags and pockets all over our persons. BOSS! or so we thought. 2 minutes before take off the captain of the train gets on the thingy and does his welcome bit and we're going to blah blah bit, and if you're headed to liverpool, make sure you're sat in the blue seats at the front of the train, not the green seats at the rear as the carriages will separate at blah-shire and you'll end up in birmingham. welllllllllllll guess what colour our seats are? bloody green. so we gather allllll our crap in a proper hurry and run out the doors and down the platform headed for the 3rd class carriages at the front of the train, hoping that we're terribly lucky and can double score perfect seating arrangements up there. soooooooooo wrong. we piled into smaller seats, less leg room, and VERY LUCKY to find 2 seats together let alone 4. sigh. oh well, least we're on board and liverpool bound!

the train ride up was fair uneventful, no singalongs or car games or travel yahtzee, but enough banter, sweets and glossy mags to keep us at bay for the almost-4-hour journey. once we arrived it was niiiiiiice to stretch the legs and i *foolishly* pulled the camera out to take some snappy snaps, when it took all about 13 seconds for someone to chime in 'orrrigh loove, aint from around 'eerre arrya? ccckan i get you a chhhickkken anna cckkana ccoooke?' alright.. the last bit was a lie, but what i'm getting to is that as soon as we got out of the train station, the accent was evident and ALL CONSUMING. and, I LOVED IT.

being the travel noobs we are (we're not.)(we are... occasionally), none of us had any idea where we were headed, so we jumped in a cab (londoners in us, innit) and gave the postcode, hotel name, address, blah blah...ususal, then -- 'oh, you meant the bloccck then loove?'..err.. yes, i do believe that is correct kind sir. perhaps you could take us there chap? delightful. got in. got there. in about 4 minutes. 4 minutes in which we were told just how close we were to almost ALL of the stuff on our list. we asked about shopping, ferries, clubs, food, wags in rollers, then we were at the hotel. we all reached for our purses to do the usual £5 chip in each when we check the fare and realise it £4.75. 'this one's on me girls! keep the change sir!' handing over a fiver. BOSS (you'll get used to that/annoyed of that soon enough)!

we got into our room (which was sooooooo freshly finished that you basically had a free high all weekend from the paint fumes and we had a competition of how much plastic we could pull off the stainless-steel balcony doors) and examined what we had scored ourselves; the 4 of us had a 2 bedroom apartment - a master bed room with an ensuite* and a couple singles, a large bathroom, and a kitchen/dining area plus a BEAUTIFUL view of liverpool and some of its finery. our balcony faced out over East Quay and was right on Albert Dock meaning that we had pretty waterfront views and views of the city out to the burbs. GORGE!
(*basically a toilet in the corner of the room with no door and a shower spout above it. privacy, my fave)

i quick-changed into my nautical-inspired outfit for some ferry action and headed off in search of the mersey. it's probably worth mentioning that i had been looking forward to this weekend for soooo long that i had devised a theme for each day we were there. i think some of my crazy rubbed off, as we all ended up getting  dressed up in sailor-themed outfits for this outing. we were soooooo twee!

walking along albert dock was really pretty despite the weather being really un-cool and also threatening to rain a bit. got to see the liver building (which forms part of the 'desperate scousewives' opening credits - i was keen to see that in the flesh.) we walked past the liverpool museum and some wicked river-side sculptures and statues, then hurriedly bought our ferry tickets for the last mersey crossing of the day. luckily there was a bar inside the ferry and we got talking to the bar wench who was really nice and chatty and told us if we'd come on a saturday or sunday they have the tunes on (Pacemakers, naturally!) and a theatrical display (we later learned this means pirates, arrr!). we planned to come back the following day - weather permitting, but as we were already there we would at least have a wine, put the iPhone on LOUD and play Ferry 'Cross the Mersey and You Will Never Walk Alone on loop and sing a long like loons. at what loons we were.

(a couple sat behind boyfriend as he was taking this whispered to one another 'they're all dressed like sailors, i know - how cute!' - this made my day.)

after the mersey-crossing we were starrrrrrved (read: starving for more wine) and due to meet out 5th amigo who'd missed her earlier train, so we headed into the centre to find somewhere to have a few drinks and chat about our plans. we met up with laura at all bar one and hung out there for a few hours, mixing with the locals (who all seemed to be NOT from liverpool), chatting with a group of stags from newcastle and making girls teach us how to say things with a scouse accent. we then headed back to the rooms via a quick stop for supplies then started prep for night 1 in liverpoooool.

we stayed close that night and ended up at the loyal vodka revs, drinking shot trays and jugs of awful cocktails until we decided it was definitely hometime as we had a big day planned for saturday. we bid laura farewell (she stayed at the hilton, oooooooooooh) and prepared for the 6 storey climb as the effing LIFT WAS BROKEN AND WE WERE ON THE TOP FLOOR. no biggie. do it all the time.. aaaaand sleep.

saturday! beatles tour! slightly hungover! nothing a chhhocckklate milccckkshacccke and maccckkkas's breackkky wouldn't fix (thanks to boyfriend for sorting that out while we beautified). prep done, off we trot down to our personal chauffeur-driven taxi tour where we're to stay for the next 3 hours. our guide Garet/Gareth (we dunno) is 100% scouser born-and-bred, toothless and shouty but SO INFORMATIVE. we pile in and off we go! we got to see all of the childhood homes of the guys, as well as things like the schools they went to, local pubs they drank at and IMPORTANT things like penny lane and strawberry field and MOST SIGNIFICANTLY the meeting place of john and paul and the gravestone of eleanor rigby.

wah! the tour was so good, we learned so much not just about the beatles but about liverpool aswell. i took about a gazillionty pics, all of which i cannot post here, but if you can (and want) check them out on facebook. after the tour was over (sadly) we hit the main shopping strip hoping to find a hair dresser who would do some last minute curls for the girls, and where boyfriend and i did some last minute shopping (nothing like going to primark in a different city!) before heading off to.. CAVERN CLUB! undisputed 'home' of the beatles, this club is seriously one of the coolest places i've ever been. the history of the club and the quality and quantity of epic bands that have played there just blew a bit of my mind out. the walls of the club are all tattooed by bands, by fans, and by tourists. the club is so far underground it was underground before it was cool to be underground. it was AWESOME and i loved it. boyfriend and i sat in there watching a few beatles docos they have on loop then headed into the main bar to watch the tribute band that was playing. it was really one of the best things i think i've done, and was the perfect way to end the tour.

we then met up with the girls, all rollered up back (hair rollers, in case you're confused by that. it's a thing) at the flat and had a quick meal and redress ready for the night ahead. 6 others were expected in the next hour or so who had just arrived from landan also, and we had all planned to meet at ours pre-dinner for catch ups and quick wines.

we had reservations at a chinese place called mandarin, when we got there the alarm bells went off. literally. like, a fire.. or something? yes well, it was well loud and annoying and the only good part of it was the firemen that were called to turn it off. i think bex hoped they were strippers, actually, i think everyone thought slash hoped they were strippers, and they got a resounding applause when they arrived (reading that back, the thought occurs to me that maybe the applause was for them making the noise stop. is it possible that it was only me that thought the applause was because we thought they were strippers? yes. that is a possibility). the meal was great, the food was good and the service was... what you would expect although a few other customers weren't as please as us. there was a loud conversation had in that regard whereby we overheard some rather obnoxious man telling these wee asian women that this was crap, that was crap, you're crap, we're not paying nor will we come back. this was overheard just after we ordered so we were FULL of expectations, but actually our food was fine, came out on time and with no real hiccups (except mine after the pink wine). so, turns out yelling about something doesn't mean you're right. it literally just means you're yelling.

after dinner we headed to Alma de Cuba, a nightclub that had had some great reviews - both locally and back in london, so we though we'd start there. being such the nana that i am, and considering we had to check out early (ish), pack and also sleep (did anyone say ENJOY YOURSELF), boyfriend and i left after a few hours (well after 1 A.M for those of you playing at home!) cos i am not the party animal i used to be (was i ever? i'm not sure.). back at the room we packed our gear in prep for the morning then fell asleep exhausted but HAPPY after an amazing day.

we woke up early-ish on sunday considering how tired i was, so i got up while boyfriend used the facilities (we had an awkward encounter earlier in the trip where we were both in the same room whilst the facilities in the "ensuite" were being used. i warned him should it happen again then i would have to break up with him from pure shame). the apartment was a STY from the night before anyway so i got to cleaning. 6 or so bags of bottles later, the room seemed much more like how we were introduced to it. we checked out after lugging our gear down 6 flights of stairs and left our stuff at reception while we soaked the last remaining sun out of our trip. boyfriend and i enjoyed some brunch on the dock then hung out by and took pics by the beatles story (cos we were out of cash at that point to go in..*shame*), then finished the trip off with a stint in the titanic exhibition (only to keep warm, promise), before meeting the girls for our descent back to the real world.

the train ride home was excessively long, and even though we left liverpool at 2:30, we didnt get back to our house til well after 8. the journey home was not only not as quick as the first, but we had no supplies, no energy and no will to carry on.

i had an amazing time in liverpool. exploring your own back yard is more often than not more fun that exploring someone elses - because although it's kinda familiar and similar to where you're from, there will always be some amazing differences and the part of travelling that i love is seeing how the other half live. it's probably why i'm so addicted to reality tv too. it's a constant reminder that what i have is pretty good.. its nice to holiday somewhere where they speak your language - albeit with a better accent, and really nice to be somewhere where prices are reasonable and not extortionate like what we're used to. despite the beatles culture of liverpool, it's probably not considered a 'holiday destination' so it's not riddled with tourists and souvenir shops and people trying to mug their crap onto you for a ridiculous price. the locals are lovely, helpful, and sincere. they want to know about you, why you're in their sleepy town and what your story is.

and on that note; that's my story. for now, at least. 

i hope i haven't bored you silly. 

Erica x