Review 2006

Adrian asks:
Next Saturday, I'll be back in Liverpool for the day, with my girlfriend. One of the reasons for the visit is so that she can get a better feel for the city because we're thinking of moving there. So, can you tell me where the hidden cool and interesting bits of Liverpool are?

It really depends on what you're looking for - sightseeing, eating or drinking and also I'm not sure if anything is really hidden anymore. So I'll try my best but forgive me if this isn't what you're looking for.

Liverpool Museum Planetarium It's a free show taking in both an explanation of some new astronomical phenomena and a tour of the night sky at this time of year. There's a silhouette of the Liverpool skyline painted on the circumference. Watch for the great moment when all of the lights are out and you're shown what the sky would look like if the light of the city wasn't blocking everything out. Check for opening times though and be wary of teenagers - last time I went some little annoyance was playing with a torch and it somewhat ruined the effect.

The Picton Library which is part of the Central Library, on the second floor. It's worth just going in to stand underneath the dome and take in the scale which is an utter surprise and not what you would expect from the street.

Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral If you like big humbling buildings, this is excellent too. Built over a hundred years, it's fairly modern in comparison to the big churches in the old Cathedral cities but it still has an impressive presence to it and there are daily tours up to the roof which I think, other than the restaurant tower probably gives the best view of the city available.

Sefton Park I'm bound to say this because I live here, but it's often forgotten on the sightseeing trail when it's actually easier to get to than the Albert Dock and its filled with little riches such as the Palm House, the statuary and the general landscape (get the 80 bus from outside Boots on Great Charlotte Street). Walking the circumference and you can pretty much see the history of the city in the buildings, from the slavery money through to the rehousing projects of the 1960s. If she does move here, can I recommend the range of regular tours given by Park Rangers which explain this history and also the nature within the park. You can request a programme from here.

Liverpool: Pevsner Architectural Guides by Joseph Sharples If you're feeling flush in fact you could do worse than this guide to Liverpool architecture written by someone I used to work with. Cleverly, the book is structured as a series of guided walks which tell the story of a particular area through its buildings. Suddenly places which you'd pass by without looking are illuminated in text that balances well the expected jargon with accessible trivia. Impressively the walks even go inside buildings and often if they're inaccessible there's an image to show what you're missing. I should say too that some of these walks could take all day so if but that's all you have, you might see more of the place and get a feel for it than if you were simply randomly walking about and get a feel for the place. If you're looking for exhibitions and galleries that are off the beaten track, Ian Jackson's website and blog is the place to look. Although the Biennial obviously provides a brief spotlight and focus on art activities, there are still a range of exhibitions throughout the city pretty much of the time.

Radio Merseyside has recently moved into new premises on Hanover Street and you can now see into the studios while the shows are being broadcast. Fascinating to see local radio celebrities doing what they do.

The Barcelona on Renshaw Street. Until recently a bar but now the base for many of the shops that used to be in Quiggins. Expect studenty and club clothing, collectables, and second hand cds. But that's underselling I - it's worth visiting just for the décor and the keen way that a building can change use and still retain it's earlier fixtures. If you see what I mean.

Eateries I'm a creature of habit when I'm eating in town which means that I can only recommend three places. The Everyman Bistro on Hope Street is the place to go for the homecooked style meal with everything from soup to salads to curries and pies and stews. It's also a great space to drink too with its three room structure. There's buzz about the place which is hard to define but engrossing. I'd also add that if you're looking for something in the realm of pizza and pasta and more relaxed The Quarter at the other end of Hope Street is also excellent and has waitress service. If your looking for somewhere nice to stop off for a coffee during the day, The Door on Hanover Street is cool with great art on the walls and a friendly atmosphere.

Pubs I usually end up on Hardman Street and the off streets. There's the Philharmonic Pub which has the most ornate men's toilet in the country; if you're feeling very adventurous you could go to the bar at the actual Philharmonic Hall if there's something on - it too is worth a visitor for the décor and you can also hear whatever the show is as your background music.

The Pilgrim on Pilgrim Street under the shadow of the cathedral has booths and interesting paintings of The Beatles (in that they look nothing like them). But really the most interesting new bar is on Hope Street underneath the RoadHouse - it's a Sci-fi theme bar with tons of memorabilia with a bar modeled on a TARDIS and a stage in the shape of a Star Trek transporter pad.

But you could do worse than slipping down Wood Street too. That's take you past the FACT centre, and there's The Swan Inn (old biker pub) and beyond that Concert Square with all of the trendy place surrounding that with The Krazy House and The Camel Club towards the bottom. Which are worlds away from each other in terms of clientele but both amazing experiences.

I hope that is of some use, but please do let me know if there's anything else you were particularly interested in.


Anonymous said...

That's great thanks! I don't think there's anything in particular we're looking for, so some general pointers are ideal.

Pevsner's guide has been on my Amazon wishlist since I leafed through a friend's copy last Christmas (*fingers crossed for Monday...*)

We'll definitely be heading up to the area around Hope Street, and I was planning on getting food up there too.

I've never been to Sefton Park (my Mum grew up in West Derby, and my Dad in Everton, so I know Liverpool from that sort of angle best), so as long as it's not too cold or wet then that would be a new experience for me too.

I'm really looking forward to it.

Stuart Ian Burns said...

Glad to be of help. Hope you have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. I'm in Liverpool on Saturday too, so I'll check a couple of those out. Thanks.