- Revitalised Victoriana
- City life
- Mersey beat
This stately old lady on the banks of the Mersey may have celebrated her 800th birthday, but she’s enjoying an invigorating shake-up these days…
A flattering spotlight now shines on her Victorian splendours and spruced-up docksides, beckoning visitors to 'come together, right now'. Liverpool not only lays claim to Europe’s oldest Chinatown and the UK’s largest cathedral, but also the title ‘European Capital of Culture 2008’ – the city's irrepressible cheeriness is being combined with a renaissance in art and culture not seen since the Fab Four took an unsuspecting world by storm back in the Sixties. The city once famous for its maritime prowess and musical clout has reclaimed its wharves and warehouses, transforming them into enticing café and museum districts, and fresh blood pulses through Liverpool’s grand Imperial arteries and neoclassical structures, where buzzing restaurants, boutiques and nightlife now hold sway.
Beatlemania is still going strong here. The Beatles Story in Albert Dock tells the tale of John, Paul, George and Ringo, complete with walk-through yellow submarine (www.beatlesstory.com). Fab Four fans can tour the childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney – now owned by the National Trust and restored to their original 1950s glory (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/beatles).
- There are plenty of black cabs in Liverpool, especially in the city centre; just hail one in the street. Alternatively, try Mersey Cabs (+44 (0)151 733 3393), or get your hotel to recommend a minicab company for you.
- Tipping culture
- 10 per cent is standard, but many restaurants now add a discretionary 12.5 per cent, so be careful not to tip twice.
- Packing tips
- Load up your iPod with your favourite tunes, from Merseybeat to cosmic Scouse (aka the Zutons, the La’s, the Dead 60s and the Coral, to name a few).
- Recommended reads
- Collected Poems by Roger McGough; Love Poems by Brian Patten; An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge, which is a bittersweet study of the city in the Fifties..
- As a major port, Liverpool has enjoyed a wide range of foreign influences, evident in the multitude of food options in the city; Chinatown has some particularly good restaurants.
- Regional specialities
- For something typically Liverpudlian, try a scouse – a hearty lamb and vegetable stew – or a wet nelly, a syrup-soaked pudding made from cake and pastry scraps. Lark Lane Farmers’ Market (+44 (0)151 233 2165; www.larklane.com/farmersmarket), near Sefton Park, 9am–2pm on the last Saturday of every month, features produce from within a 100-mile radius of the city, incorporating the rich surrounding farmland of Lancashire and Cheshire. Track down HS Bourne’s handmade organic Cheshire cheeses (www.hsbourne.co.uk), and delicious smoked meats from the Port of Lancaster Smokehouse (www.polsco.co.uk).
- Pound sterling.
- Time zone
- Dialling codes
- Country code for the UK: 44. Liverpool: 0151.
- Do go/don't go
- The city is a year-round destination but the weather is best between April and September. Certain events, like the Grand National and the Mathew Street Festival draw large numbers of people to the city. If Liverpool Football Club wins the European Championship again any time soon you can expect another huge street party.
Don't go home without...
… a bag of black and white Everton mints, so-called because a woman known simply as ‘the Toffee Lady’ used to sell the stripey sweets before kick-off at Everton’s home football matches.