The skies over Liverpool really made us feel welcome. Instead of rain today it was hail, coming down in short, ferocious bursts. If we timed it right we could walk around the city without getting wet, but when we were stuck outside in a downpour, it stung.
For half an hour we drove around Liverpool searching for a car park but there was absolutely nothing, paid or free. In the end we had to park three kilometres out from the centre, and we prepared ourselves for a wet tramp into the city. Ten steps in we discovered we were 100 metres from a train station. It felt a little lazy travelling only one stop, but it beat the hail-laden alternative.
Emerging in the centre we found ourselves surrounded by grand, heritage-listed buildings. They were stunning structures, but they looked out of place when compared to the contemporary architecture that surrounded it. Inside two of these older buildings were perfect wet weather activities: museums. The first was the Walker Art Gallery, which we knew nothing about but it turned out to be one of those museums that covered every style of art in existence. It was fantastic; even the contemporary pieces were relatable and worthy of appreciation.
The second museum was called the World Museum and featured an aquarium, insectarium, fossils we were allowed to handle, taxidermy of animals that I’m sure no one has ever heard of, and a planeterium. We signed up for a free show at the planeterium, which was mostly about the moon. The presentation wasn’t that exciting but the photos of the solar system were phenomenal.
After the World Museum we quickly detoured via the pedestrian area, where market after market lined the main streets, to reach the Cavern Quarter. Not being much of a Beatles fan I didn't understand what all hype was about, but the same couldn’t be said for Danny. He was very excited to be here, and eagerly explored several souvenir stores dedicated solely to the Beatles (it’s crazy how much memorabilia there is for just one band). At Danny’s insistence, we caught a live show of a Beatles cover band at the Cavern Club. For some reason only half of their songs were Beatles originals, with the others being tunes from roughly the same time period. Only about half the Beatles’ songs were familiar to me, and even Danny said he didn't know a couple. I did enjoy performance though, which I never thought I'd say.
On our second day in Liverpool we made our first stop at the Metropolitan Cathedral, a modern, upside-down funnel-shaped building with alluring blue stained glass windows. A nativity scene had been set up in the centre, with seats radiating out in a circular pattern, as though ready for a children's Christmas play.
Down the road was the Liverpool Cathedral, apparently the largest in the country. The exterior was like any other cathedral, rectangular with sharp edges, but inside was another story. The nave was colossal, stained glass windows abounded, and fascinating rooms jutted off in random places, creating a maze-like floor plan. It was one of the more beautiful cathedrals I have visited.
Once we had ticked off the religious structures, it was time to wander down to the Albert Dock to visit yet more museums. The first was the Tate, a branch of the famous London gallery. It consisted of only two floors, with two spacious warehouse-style rooms on each. The centre of each room contained contemporary 3D works, such as a bed made out of partially mouldy bread (yeah, that was my reaction too). The surrounding walls displayed 20th century paintings, which didn't sustain our attention.
Next it was over to the Maritime Museum, where we found the Slavery Museum. Most of the exhibit was dedicated to racial issues in America and only touched briefly on slavery. There was also a section on the poor living and working conditions in Sierra Leone and Uzbekistan, which was as appalling as it sounds. So although we didn't learn a lot about slavery, we still found it interesting. While we were here we took a quick glance at the 'seized' section of the Maritime Museum. It was incredible what some people have tried to bring into the country. Displays around the room described in detail the border controls the UK has in place, allowing would-be smugglers to work out how to circumnavigate them. Possibly not the brightest idea they've had.