When we rented a car and toured England, we skipped Liverpool. Except for the fact that the Beatles grew up here, we didn’t hear anything about this crumbling, commercial city that would make us want to visit. In the 1800’s Liverpool was a commercial powerhouse. Cunard and White Star had their headquarters here; many of the Titanic passengers boarded here. Many of the immigrants who went to the New World left from here. Much of the trade brought back from the New World was unloaded here. But as containerized ships took over, the loss of jobs brought the city to its knees. It had also suffered greatly from German bombing raids in WWII. The Beatles grew up here, left and never looked back.
These days Liverpool is creating a new identity as a cultural center. The Tate family which built the Tate art museum in London, brought a huge portion of their collection here to be displayed in a new, more spacious museum. The Albert docks area reminded us a bit of Navy Pier in Chicago and is a lively area full of museums, restaurants, and touristy things to do. Modern, glass fronted buildings are being built in many spots which will house other cultural venues. And of course, wherever we walked, we heard Beatles music. The Cavern Club where they got their start is still here and you can visit their childhood homes and schools if you’re into that sort of thing. We feel like we grew up with the Beatles and know about as much about them as we need to, so we headed to the Wirral Peninsula for a bike ride.
The peninsula is formed by the River Mersey which runs through Liverpool and the River Dee, which separates this part of England from Wales. When the leader of the bike tour pointed toward Wales, he was careful to point out that he was talking about the country, not the marine mammals. Apparently past customers had whipped out their cameras looking for those huge spouting creatures. The River Dee has silted up a lot of real estate and it is easy to imagine that Wales and England will be joined together at this spot in the not too distant future.
The bike ride reminded us a lot of ones we have done at home, since it was on an abandoned rail road bed. This meant it was a flat and easy ride, and we stopped for a rest at a pub. Since we had not enjoyed our attempt at local beer in Cork, we opted for a Pimm's cup. Pimm’s is a local mildly alcoholic drink that is served with fruit and lemonade - a bit like Sangria without the wine. After riding about fifteen miles we almost could justify heading back to the buffet on board.