Liverpool Excursion 2017
© Muriel Guthoff
Janine Gebhard Essay on Liverpool
The week we have spent in Liverpool was absolutely enchanting. We have seen various places in the city itself, but also around it. It is hard to say what I liked the most, as every spot was nice and sort of magical on its own.
However, staying in a Hostel on the opposite of Albert Dock, opened in 1846 by Prince Albert, I spent quite a lot of time around the Waterfront and Albert Dock with my room mates. The dock is a very touristic place with the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the Slavery Museum and The Beatles’ Story located in this area of the Heritage Site waterfront. Around the dock you can also find souvenir shops and cafés to visit after a long day of sightseeing in town.
Although, Albert Dock has much more to offer than just shops and museums: Loads of events take place right here. During our stay, we have seen a summer football area where children could challenge each other and we noticed that right at this spot the “Clipper Round the World” Yacht race was planned to start on August 20th, after a weeklong celebration on the dock that started on August 14th.
The dock is also a very picturesque place in Liverpool: At daytime it is colourful, full of life and automatically cheers you up. At night-time, all the buildings around the dock fill the calm water with beautiful reflections as the sun goes down behind the Mersey.
Right behind Albert Dock, you can take long walks along the Mersey waterfront: One of my personal highlights of the trips were the night walks around here with my room mates. Around Queen’s Dock and Albert Dock it was all peaceful and quiet, whereas between the Three Graces and the Mersey a country fair was taking place, filling the air with music and laughter. Here it was also possible to eat some Scouse or buy fudge typical for England.
While walking along the river on our first evening in Liverpool, we have seen a massive cruise casting off Pier Head towards the Irish Sea. We have also spent some time discovering all the statues decorating the waterfront: Horses honouring soldiers, a dancing statue of Elvis and also the so-called “Superlambananas”. Superlambanas are an odd mixture of the head and forelegs of a lamb and the back part of a banana representing the British empire and the exotic and foreign influences it has got through the colonies spread all around the world. Later on, we found more colourful Superlambananas all around town – and even in the quite fancy Victorian-style St. George’s Hall.
The Beatles also got a statue by the waterfront: All for in a row walking, similar as they do in the album cover of “Abbey Road”.
This leads me to another fantastic area in Liverpool or rather an area of culture spread around the whole city: The Beatles and their childhood homes. Visiting John Lennon’s and Paul McCartney’s childhood homes has clearly been one of my personal highlights in Liverpool. My mother loves the Beatles and since I am little, our house in Germany has always been filled with their music. Therefore, Mendips, 251 Menlove Avenue, the house where John Lennon grew up with his aunt Mimi, uncle George and students of Mimi, was a fantastic place to visit. Our tour guide told us various stories and anecdotes out of John’s early life, including the fact that he was only allowed to meet up to make music with Paul McCartney on their porch, as Paul came out of a family of lower standards. It was also very interesting to get an insight of what John’s family life was like, as he was not growing up with his parents. Seeing his teenage room, the posters on his wall and photo albums felt like going back in time and watching him grow from a normal, funny English child into a world-famous musician. Yet I have only known the musician and his works, so it was interesting and fascinating to learn about his early life. Also, reading a letter from Yoko Ono to the visitors of Lennon’s house was quite an emotional moment.
It was the same feeling going through John McCartney’s old home, a quite small council house in Allerton. Listening to McCartney himself talking about his time in Forthlin Road was simply amazing. Hearing stories told by him and by our tour guide, you could really picture young Paul, his brother Michael and the later Quarrymen running around the house and making music in the little room next to the cosy sitting room. While walking through the house, some people of our tour group played the piano downstairs, which created quite a reminiscent mood. Looking at the books that McCartney read as a child, e.g. Alice in Wonderland or Oliver Twist, I thought about how impressive it is that normal teenagers that behaved and lived like everyone else, even like me, became so popular all around the world.
However, these are just a few great and memorable places in Liverpool. The city has a lot to offer and its one-of-a-kind mixture of English and Irish lifestyle makes it a wonderful place that no one should miss.
Michelle Downar The characteristics of the Liverpool people
Being in Liverpool for the first time is very exciting. Not only does it look different from cities in the Ruhr area – considering the back-to-back houses which are typical in Great Britain, and its location close to the Mersey, giving it a rather maritime character - but it also feels different, since the culture differs a lot from ours. The main reason for this are the Scousers. Getting to know some of them during our six-day excursion showed us, how much Liverpudlians differ from the people in our German hometowns.
One of the major differences is the open-mindedness. People in Liverpool seem to enjoy small talk; not only with one another, but also with strangers they meet. It is not rare to be spoken to by people you do not know, anywhere you go. Thus, we have been approached not only in pubs, but also at the beach and on the street by people of
all ages. Moreover, most of the people did not seem to want to start a conversation just to appear nice – like it is known in our culture – but they appear to be genuinely interested in getting to know the person they are talking to. While sitting at the beach and enjoying the sundown, listening to quiet music on one of our phones, we were approached by a couple from Liverpool. At first we thought that our music may have bothered them (as this would have been the case in Germany), but as it turned out, they were simply interested in who we are, where we are from, and what we are doing in Liverpool. After chatting with us for a while and giving us advice as to which places to visit, they left. Considering that this would be unlikely in Germany, we were quite happy after this incident.
Another difference to German people is the pub culture. Scousers – like many other British people – enjoy spending their evenings with friends in local pubs and have a pint or two. But unlike a German Kneipe, where most people go for the sole purpose of drinking, people in Liverpool meet in pubs to get together and chat for a while, while listening to – preferably live – music. In this atmosphere of dimmed light and rough, live music, people also enjoy dancing casually with one another and meeting new people.
Therefore, we have been approached a few times in order to chat and be asked about our lives and studies.
In contrast to the older generation, younger Liverpudlians prefer to spend their evenings dancing and drinking in clubs, preferably in Mathew Street, the centre of nightlife in Liverpool. Shortly before dusk, the streets start to overflow with young women in extravagant outfits, hair and make-up, who are heading to the nicest clubs in town. In fact, their fashion is completely different from young fashion in Germany; thus, our group could be easily told apart from Scousers whenever we were at the same place. Therefore, we were asked where we are from, since it was obvious that we were not from Liverpool.
The Liverpudlians we interacted with the most was the host in the Wellington, the Bed and Breakfast eight of us stayed in, Liz. She is a typical Scouse woman – very friendly, caring, and honest. While we were having breakfast in her living room, she sat with us and asked about our stay – what is planned for the day and what we enjoyed most about the day before – and told us which attractions are worth a visit and which are not. Staying with her did not feel like staying somewhere foreign; it felt familiar, since she was very attentive to us
Scousers are open-minded, chatty and inherently nice to anybody – friends and strangers. Considering these characteristics of the people we have met, it can easily be said that they are different from the people we know from the Ruhr area. Therefore, being approached by people we did not know felt strange during the first two days in Liverpool; however, we got used to it quite quickly and enjoyed meeting Scousers and getting to know them during the rest of our stay.
Karoline Kaimer Is the Beatles childhood homes’ tour worth the money? Is it only of interest to Beatles fanatics?
When Mr Deane first introduced the excursion schedule on one of the first meetings to us, I was pretty excited. Of course, I wanted to see as much historic buildings inside and outside as possible and wanted to experience as much culture as possible. That is why I was looking forward to almost every visit and tour.
The Beatles childhood homes’ tour was scheduled for Saturday morning and I just didn’t know what to expect. I knew a few Beatles songs we had to sing in school, but still I never had any deeper connection to them or their music. Mr Deane also tried to name the prices for each visit, tour or event and “about 23£” for something I had no connection to was money I had rather spend on a different tour at that time.
The time in Liverpool just flew by and it was Saturday before we knew it. Talking to the other excursionists I noticed that no one really had a clue of what we were going to see or experience or even what knowledge we had to have to appreciate the tour. We all started to look for a small white bus to jump in at the deep end. After 10 minutes of severe rain we found the tour bus and climbed in soaking wet. 15 minutes into the ride, the driver hadn’t said a word and we kind of felt like we were supposed to know every street or spot we were passing and we felt pretty lost. Driving through an unfamiliar town with nobody explaining anything was not what we imagined a tour. So, when the bus came to halt after some time and the driver told us to not forget our bags and mind our heads when we get off, we were a bit disappointed. As we got off the bus, we saw the other half of people from our excursion who had taken the earlier tour and they all told us how great the tour had been.
We entered the premises and got an introduction about the house. As we came to know the house was the childhood home of John Lennon and we were about to get in. The tour guide of John Lennon’s house was a friendly, well informed guy who encouraged us to ask questions and told many stories and anecdotes that took place in the rooms he guided us through. After that tour, we had time to visit the rooms upstairs were we found John Lennon’s childhood room. What I recall most striking about John Lennon’s childhood is that it was struggled but he was also very loved. His father wasn’t around much because of travel and his mother couldn’t provide for him which is why he grew up in his aunt Mimi’s house. She rented rooms to students so the house was always busy and full of life. During his childhood, his uncle and mother died. Aunt Mimi was always there to take care of him and even let John and his friends (later with Paul McCartney) play music in the living room. Another room in the house provides visitors with photos taken during John Lennon’s life. To spend time in a house like that full of history moved me quite a bit. I could almost see hardworking aunt Mimi giving John a loving home a child deserves and John having friends over to play music and dreaming big. Even some of the furniture like the bookshelves in the living room still are the originals John Lennon grew up with so for me it felt like living history. After our tour, we entered the bus again, still overwhelmed. The next and final stop was Paul McCartney’s childhood house. We learned that his mother also died early and he grew up with his father and younger brother. He even had a voice message prepared for visitors of his childhood home and said he hoped that everyone enjoyed the experience. The woman guiding us through the house was also friendly and encouraged us to ask away, but I think the tour wasn’t as personal and intimate as the one in John Lennon’s childhood home. After the tour, we also had time to see the upstairs rooms on our own. The best part of Paul McCartney’s childhood home for me was the large number of photographs on the walls of almost every room. There were many photographs with both brothers and their mother, their father, the brothers playing music and a few of Paul taken through a window which looked kind of artistic. The guide also told us that at the beginning of their fame, Paul had to buy a house in another area, because fans camped in front of the house and annoyed his father so that he couldn’t get outside anymore. After having seen both houses the bus took us back to the meeting point and we joined the other half of excursionists.
The Beatles childhood homes are taken care of by the National Trust. That is why the only way to get inside the houses is by booking a tour with them. To preserve the houses in an almost original way costs lots of money which is why I was totally fine with paying 23£. After all, the houses represent a unique way of experiencing history – not only for Beatles fanatics, but also for everyone interested in the past. And additionally, the Beatles represent a huge part of Liverpool’s culture which I think qualifies the Beatles childhood homes tour as a must see. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it.
J. Büssing More on the people of Liverpool
First of all I have to disappoint you: Liverpool people are not much different from most British people from other cities which means that they are all very polite and friendly.
This, to German people who are used to much worse, apparently strange behavior can be observed in its greatest manifestation by just hopping on the next bus.
Not only do the Liverpudians (strange word though) have a little conversation with the bus driver but they also tell him about the things they bought, what the weather looks like, where they just come from and where they will go today and so on. As a German you watch this scene with a mixture of fascination and fear – fear whether you will find the right words and whether your strange accent will attract attention. What if my story about my day isn`t as fancy as the ones before? What if they don`t like Germans here? What if the busdriver`s a spy who asked all the other people before just to get to know my hometown and hidden secrets?! So when the time comes and the typical German is next in line he/she can`t help but attract everybodys` attention by just mumbling “One ticket to …. (space to be filled with any place in Liverpool), …(forgetting the please in the end due to nervousness) “.
The other weird thing literally no German can understand is that everyone thanks the busdriver when leaving the bus. “Why should I thank him?” thinks the German. “It`s his job. He gets paid for it!”
But being the good and lovely German students who try their best to adapt to foreign cultures and due to being fascinated by so much warmhearted behavior we also said “thank you” and “bye!” to every busdriver we happened to meet (poor man though…very annoying saying “bye” and “thank you, too” 16 times)
When it comes to going out in the late evening, British people at the age of 40-50 are very different to Germans of the same age…because they actually go out!
Most German adults just prefer to sit at home in the evening, on their beloved sofa, watching their beloved Tatort and the news and of course drinking their beloved “Feierabendbier”. Only when it comes to the weekend, Germans go out and maybe watch a football game in their beloved pub. British people are very much the opposite! It seemed as if the whole city went out late at night and we almost forgot only we had holidays and that they had to get up early the next morning for work. We as students being on vacation went to bed earlier than
the Bristish who were mostly twice as old as us and who had work the other day! Strange feeling… Also, some women dressed up in a way that looked as if they wanted to go to a really big costume party. But maybe the new trend of letting your hair curlers actually stay in your hair the whole day through hasn`t just come in style in Germany, yet.
It is also very funny to imagine the reactions of German people if we would translate British habits of saying into German and use it in let`s say the next supermarket: When a cashier gives you your change back he/she always adds a “love/darling” or when it comes to men “mate” at the end of the sentence. Imagine the reactions of Germans if the cashier in the local EDEKA called them “Liebes” or “Kumpel”.
They would probably feel offended or at least consider it to be weird. Not the British. They would consider it unpolite not to speak to the customers…as it is usual in Germany.
When British walk through the streets or sit down, e.g. in the bus, they aaalways look the person next to them in the eyes and smile, at least for a second. It isn`t unusual to event talk to complete strangers just to get the time pass by quicker. German people try to ignore each other and do not like to be addressed by strangers. If you talk to other people on the bus for more than 2 mins in Germany you tend to be looked at as if you were insane.
So what is my conclusion after having spent my time as a German in such a warmhearted atmosphere as there is in Liverpool?
Well, I definitely won`t say thank you to the busdriver and I will also never ever use hair curls as a hair style… but I will really try to be more polite when it comes to greeting the busdriver or cashier and maybe I´ll also try to break the odd silence you always have in Germany in elevators (no one has ever found out why) and never in British ones.
In the end I still know: The international smalltalk and politeness medal will always be lost to the British!