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Budget Travel: Liverpool, UK
Summary: Liverpool. It's not London, and that's why it's not nearly as expensive. But with the old-timey glamor of Albert Dock, a history rich with music, maritime lore, and football (soccer) glory, and a proximity to Chester and Port Sunlight Village, Liverpool is no second rate vacation destination. It's a first rate European city and an exciting place to visit!
Getting in: The John Lennon International Airport is where it's at. If you can't get straight there from where you live, find a trip to Amsterdam, then EasyJet it over to Liverpool. It may take you out of your way, but the savings will likely be worth it, and taking a train from London with all your luggage is a major pain after a long flight. Plus, a layover in Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport can be a pretty good time! Check out the facilities/amenities here.
Where to stay: Gadling recommends that you stay at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel. This places you just uphill from all the best shopping and dining, near the train station (which you'll need if you want to take day trips), and walkable to Albert Dock and the city's cathedrals. The prices are reasonable and the rooms are lovely. There's also a Marriott nearby if you are looking to cash in points.
What to see: Liverpool's blue collar roots are well disguised in the trendy City Centre area. We recommend a walk down Bold Street to get you started with shopping, especially the trendy Karen Millen shop. While you're there, you can eat a very cheap, delicious, healthy vegetarian meal at the exquisitely painted Egg Cafe (and gallery).
Ready for a pint? Head up to the Philharmonic Pub for a classy, relaxed atmosphere, and, if you can, catch whatever's playing that night at The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall across the street! Note: The locals don't say the "H" in Phil*H*armonic, and they will make fun of you if you do -- that, or have no idea what you are talking about.
Now you're on Hope Street. You might notice that at either end of the street, there is a giant cathedral. Visit both! The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (Roman Catholic) looks a bit like a spaceship, or like it might impale any falling angels, but is quite lovely inside. The Liverpool Cathedral (Anglican) is even grander, and definitely worth a tour (you can see all of Liverpool from the top), or at least a stroll through the lovely, probably-haunted graveyard. Hope Street also runs into Mount Street at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts where you can catch -- or pick up fliers for -- all kinds of local music, theater, dance, and more. LIPA was started in 1996 by Sir Paul McCartney and has been spitting out West End stars and more ever since!
If you're a soccer fan, don't miss a tour of the Liverpool Football Club museum and stadium. Ask at your hotel for transportation arrangements.
And naturally, if you're a Beatles fan, don't miss the Magical Mystery Tour! The tour is run by primary school classmates of The Beatles, and is funny, informative, and a great way to see a lot of Liverpool. It ends at the infamous Cavern Club, which is still alive and well.
Another great way to see Liverpool is the Yellow Duck Marine Tour. The guides on the duck boats are hysterical, and they take you around Albert Dock, where you can also visit a lot of Liverpool's chicest clubs, the Tate Liverpool, the Merseyside Maritime Museum, or just get your caricature drawn for a couple of pounds.
Lastly, if you want to get that posh British feeling, take a day trip to Chester. You can get there by train in about 45 minutes and spend the whole day eating crumpets, perusing parfumeries, and walking the wall that covers the entire perimeter of the city. Better still, stop in Port Sunlight Village on your way down. The village itself looks like something you might see in miniature form in a store-front display around Christmas, and it is home to The Lady Lever Art Gallery -- a gallery you can totally do in a couple of hours which happens to be my personal favorite throughout the entire world. Don't miss the basement full of Masonic artifacts.
A trip to Liverpool is worth your time, and, especially in comparison to London, really easy on your wallet!