I don’t normally need maps because I’ve got an intuitive sense of direction. Even though I can’t possibly get lost – I’m on an island, after all, alongside a large river – I wanted a map to help me decide where to walk. So I asked my smartphone, “Where can I buy a map?” It directed me to Stanfords Book Store – perhaps the best map store in all of England. The nearest Stanfords is in Manchester, approximately 35 miles away. Well, sometimes smartphones aren’t.
I then asked it for the nearest WH Smith bookstore, because I’m smart enough to know they carry maps. The closest WH Smith is about two blocks from my hotel. The walk there was my introduction to Liverpool – perhaps not all of Liverpool, but the relatively new, upscale Liverpool in the vicinity of Albert Dock, with the Tate Museum and all of the other places the beautiful people frequent. WH Smith is located in a modern shopping area – perhaps the largest I’ve seen in years – filled with internationally known specialty shops and restaurants all designed to separate people from their money – and from the looks of it, very well succeeding. WH Smith successfully separated me from some of mine.
My walk along the waterfront started from the Albert Dock, passed by King Dock (home to a large arena), edged a marina with expensive boats and a waterpark, and then followed a seaside promenade alongside the Garston Channel. The waterpark has an ingenious system for wakeboarding (and perhaps water skiing). An overhead cable connected to a tow bar runs back and forth the length of the park, and pulls the wakeboarders (or skiers) through a slalom course or over jumps. At the end of the line, if the skier maintains speed with a wide turn, the cable reverses direction (as does the skier) and the fun continues. I was sorely tempted…
The promenade is nicely decorated with nautically themed objects artfully arranged – ship’s funnels and anchors, pier bollards, and statues. Directional markers along the way guide walkers not astute enough to purchase maps.
The markers pointed to a sculpture of Sitting Bull at the far end of the promenade. I’m a history buff, and the story of Custer, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull fascinates me. Still, I was curious why Liverpool would have a sculpture of Sitting Bull – considering all the famous Britons memorialized in bronze and marble – so I walked the paved promenade to its very end seeking an explanation.
The promenade ends near Cressington Station, and I decided to take the train back to Liverpool. I expected an unstaffed station with an automated ticket machine, common in both the countryside and large city stations. Surprised by the man sitting behind a glassed counter, I asked for “A single senior ticket to Livingston Central.”
He stared at me silently.
Of course, Livingston is a town in central California, famous for its chickens. “I’m sorry,” I continued. “I meant Livermore.”
His stare turned to a scowl.
Of course, Livermore is a city in the San Francisco Bay Area, famous for its research laboratory. “I really mean Liverpool.”
He nodded, pushing a ticket at me. “Two pounds, fifteen. Train leaves in seven minutes. Take the footbridge to the platform on the other side.”
Like I didn’t already know which platform. After all, I do have an intuitive sense of direction.