The Three Graces, Liverpool

Pier Head (or, “The Three Graces,”) Liverpool

I’ve just returned from a lecture tour of the U.K., giving a talk and seeing friends and colleagues in Liverpool, Bristol, and the Cambridge area. During our previous sabbatical we loved living in Yorkshire (even if it was a bit cold, dark, and rainy), so it was nice to return.

The arrival happened at the tail end of a miserable few weeks of weather for the U.K., with record winds and rain and railways eroding into the sea, so a bumpy landing on our direct flight from Perugia to Stansted was not unexpected.

A string of three posts, begun with Liverpool, will largely feature pictures, especially of sights and venues that might be interesting to those wishing to visit. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring the whole family to visit soon.

Liverpool was once the greatest port in the land

Liverpool was once the second-biggest port in the United Kingdom. On the Merseyside docks.

Queen Victoria outside St. George's Hall, facing Liverpool Lime Street train station

Such commerce supported the reign of Queen Victoria, standing vigil here outside St. George’s Hall, facing Liverpool Lime Street train station

The war memorial in front of St. George's Hall

The Liverpool Cenotaph in front of St. George’s Hall. A remarkable memorial about the price of war.

Much of the city was bombed to smithereens during WWII. Debris was carried by train up the shore and dumped along the beach, where the bones of pre-war Liverpool still lie.

Much of the city was bombed to smithereens during WWII. Debris was carried by train up the shore and dumped along the beach, where the bones of pre-war Liverpool still lie, wearing back down into the sand and clay whence they were formed.

The old rotunda of the Liverpool Central Library

The city was endowed with impressive civic amenities; here, the old rotunda of the Liverpool Central Library.

The new atrium of the Liverpool Central Library

After becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2008, new investment helped to re-energize the city. Here, the new atrium of the Liverpool Central Library

Culture in Liverpool also means music...

Culture in Liverpool also means music…

And sport. Jakob would not let me come home without a Luis Suarez jersey. Liverpool FC is back on the rise, with the most exciting team in decades. YNWA.

And football. Jakob would not let me come home without a Luis Suarez jersey. Liverpool FC is back on the rise, with the most exciting team in decades. YNWA.

Fantastic architecture too. The modern Catholic cathedral and the Gothic revival Anglican cathedral face each other on the high ground above the city center.

Fantastic architecture too. The modern Catholic cathedral and the Gothic revival Anglican cathedral (the largest in the U.K.; here, the Lady Chapel) face each other (these days, without animosity) on the high ground above the city center.

Stained glass panels at the approach to the Lady Chapel honor British women.

Stained glass panels at the approach to the Lady Chapel honor British women.

And wonderful science and art museums. Here's Anthony Gormley's brilliant 'Another Place' installation along the Irish Sea. 100 cast-iron men set against tide and time along a mile of coast.

And first-class science and art institutions and installations. Here’s Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place‘ installation along the Irish Sea. 100 cast-iron men set against tide and time along a mile of coast.

The Philharmonic Pub even has a Grade-1 listed men's toilet from the Victorian period.

The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, “the most spectacular pub in England,” even has a Grade-II listed Gents’ Toilet from the Victorian period. The fine ales go without saying.

Liverpool was rather a dump the first and only other time I had visited, back in 2007, but it has come a long way. There’s plenty of lodging, the people are friendly, and though the Scouse accent can be nearly  indecipherable, there’s lots to do, and it’s well worth a visit.

Next stop, Bristol.