One of the things that I like best about slow travel is the ability to take some time to stop and think for yourself. I much prefer slow travel (ferries, coaches, trains etc) to planes, in part because there is so much more freedom in what you do. If you are on a train journey and you see something interesting, it is likely that you will be able to stop and get off sooner or later.
On a ferry you can wander around and enjoy all of the exciting bits of the ship, and you can go out onto the deck and enjoy the elements, even if they happen to be a little fierce. Compare this to a plane, where everyone is packed in like sardines and you’re stuck in your seat start to finish. Don’t get me wrong, low cost air travel is right for some, but slow travel is the best choice for me.
Ferry, Cross The Mersey
Whilst I didn’t quite manage the world famous Ferry Cross the Mersey, my ferry from Dublin did take me part way up the Mersey to Bootle, which is a few kilometres outside of Liverpool city centre. Coming into a city via the river is always impressive, because you get to see both remarkable feats of architecture and gritty, real areas which may not normally make it into the tourist guide books.
Our ferry arrived into the city just as the sun was beginning to go down, so the effects were particularly striking. Although I would have loved to have been able to travel further up the Mersey by ferry, it was fairly easy for us to get from the ferry port to our accommodation. Bearing in mind, my comrades had made this journey in the opposite direction and already knew the hostel and the transport system.
When most people in Ireland think of Liverpool they think of two things; Liverpool Football Club and The Beatles. If you are coming to the city for either of those two things, then you will not be disappointed. Almost every street you go down will have something to do with at least one of the “Fab Four” or your “favourite” Liverpool players. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good tune, but it is almost impossible to escape! Yes, the city should be proud of this aspect of its heritage, but Liverpool, there is so much more to you!
My travelling companions had already done the Magical Mystery Tour and visited the Beatles Museum, and were keen to visit some of the cities other top sights.
Having enjoyed our ferry ride in so much the previous day I suggested that we head over to the Maritime Museum to find out more about other aspects of the city’s heritage. According to the exhibition, around 40% of the world’s trade was passing through Liverpool, meaning that the city must have been an important asset to the United Kingdom. The ports were even recognised by Hitler as a strategic target during World War Two. This fact makes it even more striking that the whole North West of England was basically forgotten by the British government during the latter half of the Twentieth Century.
On a (slightly) more light-hearted note, the Seized! Exhibition at the museum was a really interesting look at some of the things which had been found by border guards, which people were attempting to smuggle in or out of the country. The whole thing started a very lively debate later on whilst we were sitting in a coffee shop about how we would smuggle something if we really needed to. It turned out that Mitre’s parents were often forced to smuggle things during the Communist era in Poland, so he was able to regale us with a series of hilarious tales which thankfully all worked out well in the end.