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Photoblog – Liverpool

June 17, 2008

My stay in Liverpool was one giant disaster, I want to make that clear from the start. In order to prove the point, I want to submit the following photograph, which displays me in the midst of an attempt to take my own life on the streets of that oh-so-fair city.

 

 

We arrived in Liverpool from Lancaster by train at about 10am. We had to make it to the RyanAir ticket counter at the airport by 11am. For those of you who have never been to Liverpool, the train station is located downtown, and the airport is located IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. We discovered, much to our dismay, that a bus ride to the airport takes about an hour. We hopped off the bus at the airport at 1105am, and ran into the terminal only to discover that we were not allowed to check in for our flight to Venice, even though it didn’t take off for two hours. We had been aware of RyanAir’s policy of making you check in extremely early and allowing no exceptions, but we were still pretty frustrated. After paying roughly $200 to reschedule our flights for 6am the next morning, we sat down to figure out our options.

We decided, after much conversation, to head back into town and look for a place to sleep, as we had been up late the night before, finishing up the process of moving my boyfriend out of his dorm room. We hoped to sleep in a library or a park, as we didn’t want to spend the money on a hotel, and we planned to go back to the airport in the evening and sleep more there. We left our bags in storage at the airport. Big mistake. An hour later, we arrived back in Liverpool, in the pouring rain, and found a place to eat. As my boyfriend didn’t want to eat at an American fast food restaurant, but I wanted something familiar, we ended up at a New York themed restaurant where I ordered a cheeseburger. We then decided to explore. Our first discovery was the public library. Jackpot! We didn’t see anywhere to sleep, but got into a line to use a computer. The computers we were using, which were free to the public, were supposed to be 5 minute use only. I was frustrated to see people doing myspace surveys and looking at photos on Flickr.

Josef at Liverpool Library

Finally, we were able to email our hotel in Venice to inform them that we would not be arriving until the next morning. We also emailed our parents to let them know of our situation, and found a local hostel, as the rain forced us to admit that we needed a room to sleep in. The hostel offered directions from the train station, which was located next to the library, so we set off, exhausted. After getting lost a couple of times due to our unfamiliarity with the British method of giving directions, we found the place. We were soaked, and we happily paid the 30 pounds each for two beds in a dorm-type room.

Bombed Out Church

We slept fully dressed, even though the room was currently empty, because we didn’t know who would be coming in. A few hours later, we woke up and decided to explore. We discovered China Town, several clubs and bars, and “The Bombed Out Church”. Eventually, after grabbing a snack, we headed back to the hostel. We agreed that we would take turns napping, because we didn’t have an alarm to wake up, and we needed to get on the bus back to the airport at 3am. Luckily, there was a bus stop nearby. We went to the common room and Josef played snooker, which is similar to pool, while I napped and watched tv.

 Snooker

Another group of travellers was watching The Office, and one of their friends stumbled down from his room and passed out on the couch in his underwear and pink socks. I kept napping, and Josef kept an eye on the time. At 3am, we checked out and went out to catch our bus. It was still pouring. We sat, still damp, at a bus stop. Our fellow bus-stop users were purchasing alcohol from a nearby liquor store and pouring it into coke bottles. They were drunk, and I suspect that at least one of them was using drugs as we sat there. I was pretty terrified.

We rode the bus back out the now-familiar route to the airport. I watched the landmarks pass, thanking everyone I could think of that we were finally getting out of Liverpool. When we got a mile or two away from the airport, we were stopped by a police barricade. It turned out that someone had driven a flaming Jeep into the airport in Glascow, and thusly the Liverpool airport was shut down until further notice. We were also told that arrests had been made in the downtown area of Liverpool, near the train station. The bus turned around and took us back to our stop. Our fourth hour-long bus trip! We managed to convince the hostel to let us check back in due to the terrorist situation, which was apparently lucky. Other people, who had been in the airport at the time of the shut-down, were ferried to convention centers, and the nearby hotels were soon full. Because our beds hadn’t been cleaned yet, we were allowed back in.

The next morning, we woke up pretty early considering that we had been up most of the night. We checked out of the hostel again, still wearing our damp clothes that we had slept in and which still hadn’t had a chance to dry, and got onto ANOTHER bus to the airport, after checking to be sure that it was open. We were informed at the airport that there were no flights to Venice until the next day. As we had intended to spend only three days in Venice, we were pretty upset. We tried to convince RyanAir to comp us our flight or at least a hotel room, but they wouldn’t do anything for us. I kind of understand their position, but at the time I was furious. We collected our bags and went back to Liverpool on our SIXTH hour-long bus ride.

This time, I was taking no chances. We finally had our bags, which meant that we could change into dry clothes, brush our teeth, take showers, etc. When we got off the bus in downtown Liverpool, we went straight to the library. Josef waited outside with our enormous bags, which couldn’t be brought inside. Luckily, it wasn’t raining. I waited in line for a computer for about an hour, emailed the hotel in Venice, updating them on our situation, and then emailed all of the parents again, informing them that we were still trapped in what I was beginning to call the seventh circle of hell, but that we hadn’t been blown up or taken hostage. I also learned that there was a Holiday Inn Express (my favorite) located within sight of the library. I promptly collected Josef and our bags and tromped across the impressive square to the hotel. They were willing to give us a room for only 80 pounds for the night. I was amazed, since the crappy hostel the night before has cost almost that much. They wouldn’t let us check in right away, but they did take our bags for us.

We then set out on the best part of our stay in Liverpool. We started wandering through the main shopping area in Liverpool, not buying anything but enjoying the sunshine and enjoying seeing a part of Liverpool, finally, that wasn’t dirty, wet, and dark. The shopping area was very clean and nice, actually, with a lot of high-end, expensive shops. After a couple of hours, we walked back to our hotel and checked in. I was in heaven. There were adjustable lights. There was air conditioning and heat. Soft blankets, soft bed. Towels as big as me. A shower! Tv! I was absolutely and totally in heaven. We showered, hid under covers, relaxed. Eventually, we felt brave enough to put on dry clothes and explore more of Liverpool.

We first went back into the area we had just visited, finding some really cool architecture and also finding a river? bay? I don’t recall anymore. We also saw a guy doing a handstand with his head in a bucket that was slowly filling up with water from the occasional drizzle. We found The Bombed Out Church again. I swear, I think the thing was a magnet. I remembered seeing another cathedral while we were on the bus, and we started walking in the direction that I thought I had seen it in. After some pretty serious getting lost and backtracking, with one or two glimpses of my quarry, we found the church.

Even cooler than the cathedral itself was the park surrounding it. Most of it was set in a valley to the right of the church, and you walked down into it through a pathway lined with old gravestones. We learned from reading signs that the whole park used to be a cemetery, but they moved the gravestones to the sides so that people could use the area as a park. On one hand, it was a bit creepy to imagine playing frisbee on top of someone’s grave, but it was also somehow very comforting, and gave the place a sacred air. Several gravestones contained the names of orphans and other children who had died in area children’s hospitals. Those were the saddest. After quite some time exploring the area, we noticed some ominous-looking rainclouds and rushed as quickly as possible back to our hotel. Surprisingly, even though we never did buy a map, we made it back in pretty short order. We did end up briefly at The Bombed Out Church again. I think maybe that’s why it was bombed, because no matter where the Germans were trying to go, they kept ending up at that damned church again. On a side note, there are no street signs in a decent portion of England, because the British were under the impression that this would make it more difficult for the Germans to find things. It works on American tourists, too. At one point, we did, however, find ourselves on Drury Lane. The Muffin Man was nowhere to be found.

We spent the evening happily ensconced in our hotel room, and I sent Josef out at one point to send more emails, letting our parents know that we were escaping. In the morning, after our seventh hour-long bus ride, we finally left Liverpool for Venice. I have never felt such a feeling of freedom as I did when I got onto that flight. And that, my friends, is how I escaped from the seventh circle of hell.

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