My Pilgrimage Part 2

Hello fellow Reds! This is the second of my three-part series looking back at my trip to Liverpool that I made last March. In case you missed part one, click here for the build-up and the back-story of my trip.

Wheels Up

My flight had finally taken off. I was set for a six-hour flight into Reykjavik. I would be getting there around 4:30 am Icelandic time. My original plan was to sleep on my flights, therefor minimizing the jet lag. That of course didn’t happen. You know, The best laid plans of mice and men yada yada. It turns out that I was way too excited to catch any kind of sleep. The flight went off without a hitch. We landed in Iceland just around 4:30 am. My favorite part of this was the fact that they brought a bus out onto the runway and shuttled us back to the Airport. You would think that being around twenty degrees outside, we could have taxied up to the terminal, but I digress.  The next two hours flew by. Before I knew it, I was off to London.

Welcome to London

I made it to London! Now all I had to do was hop two trains and hopefully not miss my connections. I took the Gatwick express into Victoria Station in London. It was crazy! So many people buzzing around. Everyone knowing pretty much where they were going and how to get there. After walking around for a bit, I was able to find the ticket window. I explained to the lady that I needed a round trip ticket, and that my plane left Wednesday morning at 10:30 am so I needed the earliest train back to London possible. She told me it would be around 90 pounds for the round-trip, and that with this ticket, I can get on any train, any time. Turns out this wasn’t exactly accurate, but more on that in part three.

Liverpool Bound

I found my terminal and boarded. In just three hours and change, I would be in Liverpool! I found a forward facing seat so I would be able to take in all the sights along the way. We were off! At 125 kph, I would get to the Lime Street Station around 3:45 pm. It was about an hour from Victoria Station to my exchange in Euston. Euston to Liverpool, is around another two and a half hours. I got into Liverpool without too much fuss.

I decided on an Uber for the two-mile trip from the station to my hostel. A cold, blustery wind was there to greet me. The “storm” didn’t drop a lot of snow, but had winds gusting up to 40 mph. I got to my hostel and had to call to be let in. The caretaker, whose name escapes me now, was super helpful and insightful.  I paid with my debit card, and showed me on his device after the payment went through, that he deleted all of my card info off. He showed me where the kitchen and bathrooms were, as well as gave me my key to my storage locker. He informed me that not only would I be in my room by myself for the first night, but also that I would be the only one in the King Harry for the first night. I fell asleep around 8:30 that night and woke up around 10 the next day, ready to start my adventure!

Friday Morning

I woke up Friday ready to go! After taking sometime to get a game plan together I decided that food would be the best start. I made my way to Homebaked Anfield. It’s an awesome place to go, and I can’t say enough good things about it. I ended up there four times in the six days I was in Liverpool. The pies are out of this world, and the people there are even better! They have an incredible back-story of perseverance and community. I’m hoping to do a story on them when I go back in a couple of weeks.

After enjoying a Scouse Pie, a side of mash, and a tremendous view, I was on my way. I walked around the ground and got to take some awesome pictures of the Shankly and Paisley Gates. My self tour ended up taking me to one of the most solemn places I have ever been. The Hillsborough memorial. I’ve heard the stories and watched documentaries on it. The weight of it is unparalleled though. Seeing the wreathes and scarves left by it. And not just generic ones. Wreathes and flower layouts that say “Dad” or “Mum”. Ones that have the name of a loved one lost. By far one of the most moving places I have visited. There are really no words that can describe it, it has to be felt. R.I.P to those lost that day. JFT 96.

Shopping and Meeting Roommates

My next stop was the brand new L.F.C. store. Days could be lost in this place. The amount of memorabilia they have is insane! Of course there are the Jerseys and scarves. Beer and shot glasses and other souvenirs. Nothing though, is as impressive as the amount of autographed merchandise that is in this place! They have game worn Shirts and cleats. Different pictures of various times in the clubs history, that are signed by those who participated in them. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough luggage to get one of these items home. I did manage to get halfies though for the two matches I was there for, Newcastle United and Porto.

The wind and cold temperatures were cutting through me, so I made the decision to walk back to the hostel and rest for a little bit. Only back for twenty minutes or so and there were footsteps in the hall. As they got closer, it was apparent that the footsteps belonged to my roommates. Ivan and Slav. Two guys from Russia, Moscow to be more exact. Ivan spoke English well enough that we would be able to communicate. Slav, not so much. Ivan is a photographer and film maker, so they were raring to go sight see. They offered me to go with them, and after a little hesitation, I agreed. After all, the whole point of my trip was to step out of my comfort zone and experience new things and meet new people. We stepped outside and it made me feel better about myself that my new two friends had also complained how blustery it was. I half assumed that being from Moscow, they would be in shorts and T-shirts.

Sight Seeing with my new Mates

The three of us walked up Anfield Road back towards the stadium. As we passed by the different gates, I was able to explain to them who the Men were that the gates were named after. The hard part though, was trying to explain Hillsborough to them. Ivan pulled out his camera and asked me to re-tell the story. So I did. It made me feel like a true supporter that I was able to share that bit of the Club’s history with two people who have never heard of it before. I don’t know, maybe its just me, but I feel that anyone can turn on the T.V. and become a fan of a team that is always featured i.e. Yankees, Cowboys, Duke, and Manure. But it just means more if you know that teams history, especially something as horrible as Hillsborough. Just my opinion. Even through our language gap, Ivan and Slav were able to understand the loss of that day. We stood there for a moment in silence, then moved on.

The next stop was Stanley Park. They were impressed that only a park just about a mile wide separated Neverton and The Reds. After walking around for a bit and taking different pictures, it was getting late. It turns out they were in town for the “Pink Floyd Experience” and wanted to go back to get ready. I had stopped at an off license earlier in the day and picked up and fifth of Jameson. Time to Party.

End of Day 1

We went back to the room and had a few drinks while they were getting ready. As they were leaving, Ivan asked me for my phone number in case anything happened.  I gave it to him, although I’m not sure what help I could have been being I was only there twenty-four hours longer than they have been. We said our goodbyes and I told them to have fun and be safe. I was flying solo for tonight. After careful consideration, I decided on a pub called “The Twelfth Man”. It was only a mile walk which didn’t seem to bad after consuming a few Jameos. Settling in on a stool, I ordered a Carling and of course, a shot of Jameson. It amused me that not only were the beers and tap, so was the liquor! I felt at home haha! After a few rounds, I decided it was time to head back.

I got home around 12:30. I wanted a decent sleep because tomorrow would be the big day! A few hours later, I was woken by laughing, dropped keys a shhhhhs. It was my new friends, having the time times of their lives. We all know when you’re intoxicated and trying to be quiet, you only get louder. This of course was the case. My eyes open slightly, I asked if they had a good time. The response made my day. “Sex, drugs, and Rock n Roll!” I took it as a yes, turned over and went back to sleep. Tomorrow was, as they called it, “Day for Football”!

Thanks as always for taking time out of your busy day to read my ramblings!

You’ll Never Walk Alone,                                                                                                             -Hooch-