Sunday, July 4, 2010

Liverpool, day 1

I know I've been doing this vacay diary the morning after, but I thought I'd do it tonight. The 2-star hotel I'm staying at is technically in Liverpool but about 15 minutes from the city centre, so nothing much going on around here. And it being Sunday, the few local shops around are closed up. Day of rest, and all that.

This morning, I checked out of the hotel in Manchester a little before 10 a.m., then walked a few blocks to the Unitarian Church (I'm a member of it in Philly). On my way there I got a little lost and stumbled across a film shoot: a taxi on a sidestreet corner with big lights and a bunch of people huddled around it. I was across the street and saw some guy, who was about 25 years old, with an earpiece in his right ear. I asked him if they were shooting a commercial, and he said it was for a "drama" called The Accused. I asked him if it was better than Life on Mars (an awesome detective show that ran for two series a few years ago), and he was quick on his feet -- said it was a million times better. After that little exchange I walked on but realized at the end of the block, at the light, that I was heading in the wrong direction, so I had to backtrack (grrrr!). Just as I reached the gaffer bloke, he put his index finger to his earpiece then asked me to wait a moment or two. An extra (some guy in a 3-piece suit with a briefcase) had to walk by on the same sidewalk as us; I guess the camera was facing the front windshield, since I saw the rear of the cab. After they shot the scene, the gaffer thanked. I told I wasn't doing it on purpose -- I missed my turn. He was cool about it. More I think about it, he was cool throughout. Wasn't overly aggressive at all . . . forceful but polite. Sucks they had to work on a Sunday, though.

I arrived a little early for the Unitarian service. Fortunately, I member of my church, Anne, has a friend there and she told them about me. Some lady -- can't believe I forgot her name -- gave me a tour. Pretty fascinating: they've owned the corner property since the 1600s, I believe, but their original building was destroyed in WWII during the Blitz. Since then, they've rebuilt it. Their sanctuary and rooms are on the 1st floor; they rent out the above floors of the semi-skyscraper to corporations.

The service was nice. I think the UK Unitarians are more aligned to Christianity than back home, but you couldn't tell by this service. One thing I liked was that the guy who led the service at one point read a kids' book called Little Croc; gonna have to pick that up while I'm here in England . . . I think my 4-year-old nephew will like it since the Little Croc in question likes to be bad, though at the end of book the croc leans to play nice (well, mostly).

After the service I had tea and scones with about 10 of the congregation (around 20 people attended the service), including Anne's friend. The scone was good: I was told by my tour guide to put butter and marmalade on it. Good advice -- it was delicious. The tea was dead-on, too. Probably the generous teaspoon of sugar had something to with that. And I usually only have hot tea when sick!

The train to Liverpool was pretty packed, but no big deal 'cause it's only a 50-minute ride. (Really weird: back at the Manchester train station, I had to pay 30 pence to use the toilet.) At one point we passed a couple sheep farms. Pretty cool. . . .

I got into Liverpool around 3 pm. The taxi to the hotel was a lot less than in Liverpool (18 pounds vs. 60). When I got here, I made my way down to the local laundry, which was a 10-minute walk. That whole episode was a story in itself. The laundry only took pound coins, so I had to buy something at the local Tessco (a supermarket), then I forgot the detergent, so I had to go back to the Tessco. On the plus side, as I was folding the last of my clothes, I spoke with a nice woman who told the do's and don't do's while in Liverpool -- more on that tomorrow.

For dinner I tried finding a place to get a burger, but my hotel doesn't serve food on weekends, and the pub around the corner had its kitchen close just before I arrived. So I walked a couple blocks and ran into a pizza joint. Their menu had garlic bread. I ordered it and was surprised that it was a pizza -- tasted just like garlic bread. By that point, it was 8 p.m., so I devoured it.

For the past couple hours I've been in the hotel's reception area. I had two screwdivers and am now working on my 3rd or 4th Beck's (though, in my defense, each bottle is 275 ml, which is a little more than 9 ounces). Alcohol = a l-o-n-g, loquacious blog post. When in Liverpool. . . .

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