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Secret City: Liverpool

Liverpool (Picture VisitBritain/Pawel Libera)

29 May, 2014

We’ve got a Ticket To Ride as this week’s team of international students takes us Here, There and Everywhere  on a Magical Mystery Tour of their UK city – all for a student budget (because, as we know, money Can’t Buy Me Love)…

Have you guessed where we are? That’s right – Liverpool, home of The Beatles!

Liverpool: Key facts

Liverpool waterfront dock with three graces historic buildings Port of Liverpool building, the Cunard Building and the Liver building ©VisitBritain Rod Edwards
Northern mist: The Liverpool waterfront dock (Picture ©VisitBritain / Rod Edwards)

Location: Merseyside, in northwest England
Population: 466,415 (2012 census)
Famous for: Football, the Liverpool docks, the River Mersey, inventions and innovations, social reform, Merseybeat music, European Capital of Culture 2008, Grand National horse racing, the Liverpudlian or ‘Scouse’ accent
Famous people from Liverpool: Tom Baker (actor), William Gladstone (four-time Prime Minister), Roger McGough (poet), Wayne Rooney (footballer), Willy Russell (playwright), George Stubbs (artist), Alfred Waterhouse (architect)
Liverpool bands and musicians: Billy Fury, Billy J Kramer, The Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Echo & the Bunnymen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Zutons, Atomic Kitten, Rebecca Ferguson, Elvis Costello, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (the UK’s oldest surviving symphony orchestra), and of course The Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr
Major football teams: Everton FC, Liverpool FC
Closest airports: Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Manchester Airport
Train to London takes: Approx. 2h 15m
Train to Edinburgh takes: Approx. 3h 40m (with changes)

Meet the insiders


Name: Simon Ogwang
From: Uganda
Age: 46
Studying: MSc Tropical Paediatrics at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine





Name: Karen Hiu Tung Ngai
From: Hong Kong
Age: 18
Studying: BA English & Communications Studies at University of Liverpool



Liverpool’s famous for music – so what’s your number one Liverpool music moment?

Karen: On my birthday we went to the Cavern Club, where The Beatles first played and where their music identity was formed.  They played live British pop music; it was my number one Liverpool music moment.

Simon: The Mersey Beatles – the official Beatles tribute band. I watch them live during cool nights when I have the chance.

Liverpool cavern club ©VisitBritain Rod Edwards
Beatle beginnings: The Cavern Club, where the Beatles first performed (Picture ©VisitBritain / Rod Edwards)

Where do you go to find out what’s on in Liverpool?

Simon: Liverpool’s local newspaper, the Liverpool Echo, provides useful up-to-date information on what’s going on in the city.

Karen: A light-hearted way to find out what is going on in Liverpool would be The Tab – the Liverpool edition of a humorous online student newspaper that is published for quite a few UK universities. It covers student experiences and gives daily news coverage in a jokey way that also keeps you aware of what’s going on locally.

What’s the best way to get around the city?

Karen: It depends on where you live, but since I only live 10–15 minutes away from town, I usually choose to walk. Walking past the Philharmonic Hall, the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (also known as ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’ by the locals - you'll see why from the picture!) as well as St. Luke’s ‘bombed-out’ church makes me more aware of Liverpool’s finest gems scattered around the city.

Simon: I use Mersey Ferries for rides across the river and buses to get around places that I can’t walk to – or occasionally I take taxis from a good company like ComCab. I use trains to travel to places that are further away, such as London.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral, Liverpool, Merseyside, England Britain on View
'Paddy's Wigwam': The Roman Catholic Cathedral in its full glory (Picture © Visit Britain / Britain on View)

How would you spend a sunny day in Liverpool?

Karen: Anywhere outdoors. I love taking a stroll in Sefton Park on a sunny day with an ice cream in hand – it’s so picturesque.

Simon: Take a Mersey Ferry ride.

How would you spend a rainy day in Liverpool?

Karen: Go for a game of adventure golf at Jungle Rumble. It’s affordable and a great way to bond with your friends – and it’s indoors.

Simon: Visit a museum such as the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Liverpool mersey maritime museum ©VisitBritain Britain on View
City of ships: Liverpool's Mersey Maritime Museum celebrates the city's nautical history (Picture ©VisitBritain / Britain on View)

What would be your top pick for evening entertainment in Liverpool?

Karen: In case you hadn’t heard, Liverpool was European Capital of Culture in 2008! There is a wide selection of museums that you can go to. My favourite annual cultural evening festival is LightNight, where exciting cultural events take place all across Liverpool.

Simon: My friends and I love the entertainment complex Liverpool One (we sometimes just call it L1) – it’s got several clubs, pubs and bars where you can have a drink and dance and generally just have fun, and it’s good for shopping too.

Where’s your favourite bar or pub in Liverpool?

Simon: Palm Sugar Lounge at Liverpool One. It is a luxurious place with cocktail bar service. My alternative favourite is a bar called Lounge V – it’s got good ambience and a varied cocktail list which has discounts before 7pm.

Karen: My favourite pub is The Cambridge. My friends and I love to go to their pub quiz on Sunday nights. For 50p you get a bowl of chips and four rounds of quizzes, with a game of bingo in between, and you can win all sorts of prizes. Its antique-like atmosphere makes it the best place to shake off any stress and get into a good mood for the coming week.

Liverpool One ©VisitBritain Rod Edwards
Entertainment hub: The Liverpool One centre has it all for shopping, partying and just hanging out (Picture ©VisitBritain / Rod Edwards)

Where’s your favourite place to go out for a meal (on a student budget)?

Karen: My favourite place to eat is LEAF on Bold Street – it has a vintage décor and an amazing menu. My favourite thing to eat there would be the fabulously designed cakes along with a ginger ale.

Simon: Liverpool has a lot to offer – you’ll get spicy Thai, Chinese or Italian dishes, depending on what you like - but my favourite place (for a special treat!) would have to be Panoramic 34 at the top of the West Tower on Brook Street. You can get really good food and have a great view of Liverpool from there.

Liverpool 34 ©VisitBritain Rod Edwards
High society: The restaurant Liverpool 34 has a panoramic view of the city (Picture ©VisitBritain / Rod Edwards)

Where’s the best place for sport in Liverpool?

Karen: Who wouldn’t associate Liverpool with football? Two of the best teams in the world are here.  Even though I’ve never been a big football fan, watching football just becomes inevitable here.

Simon: I’ve had the chance to go to Liverpool FC’s famous Anfield stadium, but not to watch football – I saw rugby live and for a cheap student rate. It was amazing! Otherwise you could go to watch sport at a traditional pub like the Philharmonic Dining Rooms – and sip a glass of white wine while you’re at it.

Liverpool anfield ©VisitBritain Rod Edwards
Football crazy: The Anfield Stadium houses the world-famous Liverpool Football Club (Picture © VisitBritain / Rod Edwards)

Where do you go to get a bit of time to yourself?

Karen: I enjoy going up Radio City Tower with its amazing view of Liverpool, to give myself a bit of quiet time to think.

Simon: I like to go to Sefton Park for some quiet time and to enjoy looking around the great landscape, statues and the lake.

What’s your top money-saving tip?

Karen: Get yourself an NUS card – you’ll be able to get discounts in most shops.

Simon: Get a Student Railcard and plan your travel in advance so you can get good flexible bargains, particularly outside the city.

Liverpool mersey ferry ©VisitBritain Pawel Libera
Ferry 'cross the Mersey: By boat is the best way to cross the river and see the city views (Picture ©VisitBritain / Pawel Libera)

Where's the most multicultural place you can think of in Liverpool?

Simon: Liverpool’s International Street Market has live concerts, dances and various vendors selling their goods

Karen: The university campus – Liverpool is a very mixed city, but this is where everyone comes together… and there are so many international students!

What’s been your number one experience in Liverpool so far?

Simon: Being a student representative in the Programmes Board, on the Staff Student Liaison committee, on the Clinical Masters Board of Studies and being a Green Course Ambassador – all these have been life-changing experiences. I’ve interacted with university staff, discussed important issues and also offered services to local communities when needed. Rare opportunities like these are only found in high-class institutions like the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. They’ve made a real mark in my CV and it’s been a great honour and achievement.

Karen: It's a tough one... but going to Alma De Cuba on Saturday evenings with my friends will have to be up there among the things I'd tell everyone about at home. Not only do they offer great South American and Caribbean food, but it also has dancers that make the visit seem like a temporary vacation  – but one you'd only get in a city like Liverpool!

Liverpool walker art gallery ©VisitBritain Rod Edwards
International treasures: The Walker Art Gallery, just one of many cultural sites in the city (Picture ©VisitBritain / Rod Edwards)

For more information about events and attractions in Liverpool, go to VisitLiverpool.com.

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