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I was surprised to notice that there have been no review about Albert Dock since 2001 and since Liverpool has changed so much since then, I thought an update was due. Albert Dock is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK and is of course located on the River Mersey in Liverpool. The dock itself has been restored after falling into disrepair and is now the location for: Shops, mostly craft, touristy ones Museums, incouding the Beatles Story and Maritime and soon to be opened Liverpool museum Trendy and rather expensive apartments The location of the Duckmarine tour Trendy bars and restaurants TATE gallery Car parking Located very near Albert Dock is: Liverpool ONE shopping complex Lots more very expensive apartments The Ferry 'Cross the Mersey Working docks/port, where so far this year we have had warships and the QM2 dock The Three Graces (including the Liver Building) Hotels Echo Arena At the moment it's also very near some Superlambananas (look them up, they have to be seen!) before they move to their new home at Lime Street Station So, plenty to do and see nearby. But is it any good? Well, yes and no. The shops are rubbish (the ones on the dock, not Liverpool ONE), no local ever goes there to shop. The museums are good, the Beatles Story is a bit expensive but the Maritime is free and has some great exhibitions, like one about the Titanic. It's a good place for families and adults. It's great being down there on sunny days, near the river, though on rainy, windy days, there's a strong chance of freezing to death - the wind REALLY blows off the Mersey. The TATE is great and there are lots of really nice restaurants down there as well as bars, where wannabe WAGS and D-list celebs hang out. They can be more expensive than average and are necessarily the best nights out you can have in Liverpool - in my opinion, some of the bars are a bit too posey. However, there are some nice places to go and have a great meal or lunch out - The Pumphouse, Circo and the Pan-American bar spring to mind. At night, probably not somewhere for the kids. There are lots of events held near or on Albert Dock (there are actually several docks along the waterfront, Kings, Princes etc) so look out for these. Albert Dock is certainly a place that you can spend the day, but more likely to be part of the day. If you're going for the weekend, then you should really go and check it out, yes, it's touristy but more Liverpool locals do go down there than they used to. Personally, I enjoy a nice ice-cream whilst sat looking at the river, in the summer of course. It's easy to get to, well signposted and not too far from the train station -about a 20 minute walk, if that and there are local stations closer than that. Can't remember what the car park is, I know it's not cheap, but then no city centre is. There's a Q-park near too. So a nice place to visit, plenty to do and see, but one star off for rubbish shops and slightly overpriced restaurants. A great place to see but combined with visits to other places in Liverpool (the cathedrals, the shops, the theatres, etc) is probably the best way to visit. PS You can be friends with Albert Dock on Facebook.
I lived in Liverpool for 5 years and one of the first things I learned is that only tourists go to the Albert Dock. In the heady days of This Morning (before it left for the evil south east), you could watch all the tourists walking up to the window and sticking their faces against the glass so they could look like mutants on national TV. I did however have the uncommon privilege of having stood on the weather map. I didn’t jump to Ireland though and I have no idea how Fred used to manage it. Apart from the “This Morning” thing, the Albert Dock houses many highly priced tourist shops, home made fudge, expensive clothes etc. There are a few bars with pretentious Jazz music and they’re the kind of places frequented by the Aintree crowd come Grand National day. The Tate art gallery is housed on the second floor in one of the old warehouses if that’s your bag baby. Sometimes you can look and be quite impressed that the modern art on display is thankfully nothing like the Turner Prize entrants. At other times, you can visit and see canvasses with plastic rats stuck on them and paint splashed on top, it’s a lottery. Its redeeming feature is that on a hot day there a few pubs to sit outside of like “The Pumphouse” and past the Albert Dock there are a couple of car parks which always used to be free, I assume they still are, handy if you’re going shopping. I heard a rumour when I first arrived in Liverpool that the Albert dock renovation was undertaken with EU money given to regenerate Liverpool after the Toxteth riots. Flats in the warehouses are now sold to footballers for hundreds of thousands of pounds, and in Toxteth, nothing has changed. If that’s true, it’s a bit sick really.
I have recently been to the exhibition of the Beatles Story which is situated in the Britannia Pavilion part of Liverpools magnificent Albert Dock regeneration. The Albert Dock itself is huge a set of former warehouses which have been converted into a number of bars, restaurants and cafes. A visit to the Beatles Story then can be done in conjunction with a bigger day out or perhaps if some of your group want to do something else you can split up, do different things and meet again. Although many peoples musical tastes have moved on from The Beatles their story is one that started the whole British pop scene and it ceased to be dominated by copies of American artists. The Beatles Story is good value at £7.95 and you can easily spend 2 or 3 hours there. The exhibition starts with their early days when they played in Hamburg and it is surprising to realise how long they actually spent there. There is also a mock-up of the Cavern Club where they played in Liverpool and later you get to experience the ear-splitting noise of screaming Beatlemania. The exhibition goes beyond the Beatles too by following what happened after the band split up. You might think that the Beatles story is not long enough to justify a full exhibition like this. It is though extremely well done and I recommend it.
The first time we visited the Albert Dock at Liverpool was when I won a competition in one of our local newspapers for a family ticket to the Beatles Story Exhibition, plus free train travel to and from Liverpool. As we walked through Liverpool from the train station we already realised what a wonderful city Liverpool seemed to be, with a great shopping centre and very friendly local people. When we arrived at the Albert Dock we were very pleasantly surprised. We expected the Beatles Story to be the main attraction at the Dock, but in fact it is only one of many interesting and varied places to see and visit around the Dock. Of course the River Mersey dominates the whole area and I did not realise just how wide this river was and to sit on the banks of the river watching the boats go by is very relaxing on a sunny afternoon. When we were last there HMS Invincible was anchored in the river on a courtesy visit and this was very spectacular to see. We sometimes forget that Liverpool is still a major working port and that it handles most of the UK trade with North America. Around the Dock the old buildings have had a complete facelift and it is now a major tourist attraction for the city. There are a number of museums around the whole area plus a variety of small independent shops selling art and craft items, plus many souvenirs of Liverpool and The Beatles. The two major museums are the Maritime museum and the Tate Gallery (North). Both of these are in some of the old warehouse buildings that have been completed restored and now form wonderful settings for these museums. Around the edge of the dock are a number of cafes, restaurants and bars where you can either sit inside or outside overlooking the water. You will certainly not go hungry or thirsty in this area, but prices are a little bit higher than you would expect on a High Street. You can take a boat ride around the docks and of course a short walk aw ay from Albert Dock is the terminal for boarding the Mersey Ferry. (I have written a separate opinion about the Ferry.) Parts of the docks are still used for boats and often there are unusual boats moored in here that are well worth a look at. Every time we have been to Albert Dock there has been some event on and I assume this probably happens throughout the Summer. Since our first visit we have returned on a number of occasions and I am sure we will return many more times. One item you cannot miss is the weather map that Fred used to use for giving the forecast during the Richard and Judy show. The show may have moved but the map is still there in the water. A tourist attraction all of its own. If you have never been to the Albert Dock then I can certainly recommend a visit, and of course it is free.