By Karin MartinezMay 22, 2018
VICENZA, Italy - When you live in Europe, a long weekend can find you in any number of fabulous locales. From Venice, you can be in Paris in about an hour, Barcelona in two, and Dublin in less than three.
Consider Liverpool, England.
Liverpool may have never been on your "To Go" list, but if you want to explore the United Kingdom outside of London, eat some fish 'n' chips, and see where the Fab Four grew up, it just may be perfect for your next weekend getaway.
The excitement starts when you see the yellow submarine at the John Lennon Airport.
Home to The Beatles and proud of it, this maritime city in northwest England has John, Paul, George and Ringo and a whole lot more to offer a traveler. Arrive, get settled, and then head out to explore the U.K.'s fifth largest city on the River Mersey.
The Albert Dock area on the river boasts many of the city's attractions; if you can find a place to stay nearby, it's an excellent starting point.
In that area, visitors will find The Beatles Story, Merseyside Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum, and contemporary art haven, the Tate Gallery. For a weekend visit, select two or three - you may not have time for everything.
Whether or not you're a fan, Liverpool is home to English rock band The Beatles, who formed there in 1960. Embrace your inner rock 'n' roller by starting off with a visit to The Beatles Story, a small but well done museum. Stroll through and meet John, Paul, George and Ringo as boys, through the years making music at the Casbah Coffee Club, and to the rise of Beatlemania. Walk through a yellow submarine and finish out the visit at the Fab Four Store for a souvenir to take home.
Separate from the museum, but a fabulous addition to your day, is a Beatles bus tour.
There are a couple of choices; my group selected the Magical Mystery Big Bus Tour, which met just outside The Beatles Story. We donned our John Lennon "Imagine" glasses in various colors and hopped on the two-hour, narrated bus ride (with photo stops) that took us to places such as Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and the boyhood homes of the band members.
The coolest part: we ended up at the Cavern Club on Mathew Street for a pint. For those unfamiliar with it, the club was the rock and roll scene in Liverpool in the 1960s, and the Fab Four played there close to 300 times.
The riverside area of Liverpool also includes Pier Head, just north of Albert Dock. There, visitors will find the Museum of Liverpool (free entrance) and the Three Graces: the Royal Liver Building, Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building. Be on the lookout on the riverwalk for the bronze Beatles sculpture and Liver Bird on top of the Liver Building!
Closer to city center, in the Cavern Quarter and heading towards Lime Street train station, there are many stores for souvenirs or regular shopping (including Liverpool One, a large mall in the middle of the city), and lots of places to eat. A note on food: You may want to try scouse, a traditional Liverpool stew made of lamb or beef. The people of Liverpool are nicknamed "Scousers" after the local stew that was commonly eaten by sailors in Northern Europe and brought to the area by Norwegian immigrants.
If stew doesn't tickle your fancy, there is a variety of seafood to try as well as sandwiches, burgers and other surprisingly cultural cuisines that include Indian, Thai, Turkish and more.
Near the train station is Walker Art Gallery. Although it doesn't have "big name" works of art, the gallery is free and is a pleasant way to spend an hour or more. There is a sculpture gallery, and a painting gallery that includes the famed portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard and a Rembrandt self-portrait.
The city also boasts two cathedrals, and they could not be more different in style. Connected by a 10-minute walk, one on each end of Hope Street, you'll find the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral and Anglican Liverpool Cathedral.
The Metropolitan is a modern building and is free to enter/donations accepted. There is also a large crypt, Lutyens Crypt, which contains a chapel and tombs of three archbishops, a treasury and an exhibit of the church construction. The Anglican cathedral is the largest cathedral in Great Britain and is free, but with a suggested ?3 donation. Liverpudlians like to tell you - and it's true - that they have the world's only Catholic church designed by a Protestant and the only Protestant church designed by a Catholic.
There is a lot more to see and do in Liverpool than described here. Learn more and plan your trip at www.visitliverpool.com. If you time it just right, you can be in town for July's International Music Festival (July 21-22) or International Beatleweek, a seven-day non-stop Beatles festival, Aug. 22-28.
Don't Let me Down, visit Liverpool soon. Make sure to post your photo on the USAG Italy Facebook page, www.facebook.com/VMCitaly. Or tag us: #VMCItaly.