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Hands up if you constantly crave a weekend away but have neither the time nor the money?! Go abroad and you need at least a few days to make the travel time worthwhile, stay in the UK and the cost of travel, a hotel and meals out all add up. And this is where the day trip comes into it’s own. Just head over to a new city bright and early, spend the day exploring the tourist attractions, stop for a long lunch and a glass of wine or two, and get to know the city’s personality in just a few hours. This weekend I did exactly that, with a day trip to Liverpool with National Express. Let me tell you a little about my experience with National Express, before giving you a few ideas of what to do if you’re taking a trip to Liverpool.
Why National Express?
We don’t travel by coach enough! Some of us drive to our day trip location, but if you’re heading to a city parking can be a challenge and often a big cost. And we’re all aware of the environmental impact of driving too much. Some of us get the train, but it can be pricey and not everywhere has a train station or direct train routes from your starting point. I was certainly guilty of overlooking coach travel until my recent trip around the Balkans, where I ended up choosing coach travel over train travel for journeys including Sofia to Belgrade, Belgrade to Zagreb, Zagreb to Maribor and Ljubljana to Venice.
As a result of that experience and my experience with National Express this weekend, I will definitely be considering coach travel for future trips. I’ve actually just booked a journey with National Express to return from an event in London next week, where I’ve saved myself a juicy £48.50 on a single journey back up to Leeds! Here’s why coach travel, specifically with National Express should be top of your consideration list.
It’s a Money Saver!
You can see from my above example how much money you can save by travelling with National Express rather than taking a train. National Express offer thousands of tickets for £5 or less (plus booking fee), which means you can spend the money you save on a fancy lunch or a cocktail at your destination. Not to mention that your ticket includes a range of benefits including a guaranteed seat (not always the case on a train!) and a luggage allowance of two medium suitcases of up to 20kg each per person, with driver assistance. You can reserve seats on selected services for just £2 (compare that to your Ryanair seat reservation fee) and if you have a child there are booster seats available too.
Travelling with National Express is particularly useful if you need to travel at a peak time. For example, say you need to travel from Leeds to London (I’m using Leeds examples as that’s where I’m from) next Monday morning. If you took the train you’re looking at £136.50 for a single journey, but you could make the same journey with National Express for £9.30. Yes it takes longer and you have to get up a little earlier, but you can’t argue it’s worth it for that kind of saving!
You Can Travel in Comfort
You might think of coach travel as being less glamorous than train travel, but actually it’s the opposite. National Express coaches have comfortable leather seats, air conditioning (which was certainly not required this weekend!), power sockets/USB ports, clean toilets, Wifi and free entertainment via their VUER app. You download the app and then can watch films and TV or read magazines. I enjoyed ‘Mama Mia: Here We Go Again’ on my return journey whilst really struggling not to sing along.
The journey was genuinely comfortable and completely stress free, and I even got a nap in. If you’re comparing coach travel to car travel, I would highly recommend that you don’t nap if you’re driving or even if you’re the passenger – your job is to keep the driver company! Cars also don’t have toilets so coach travel wins there too.
You Can Go Basically Anywhere
National Express is the largest coach operator in the UK and links more than 750 destinations with high-frequency services. Just imagine the day trip possibilities there! And if you don’t want to stay in the UK, you can even travel (from London) to European destinations such as Paris, Lille, Brussels, Amsterdam, Dublin and more. National Express also operates services to all major UK airports 24 hours a day, so no need to worry about expensive airport car parks or trains not running for your 6am flight.
So where will you go? Bath or Blackpool? Edinburgh or Exeter? Newquay or Newcastle? Sheffield or Southampton?
It’s Better For the Environment
Did you know that travelling by coach is the most friendly form of public transport? It generates up to five times less Co2 per passenger than the average car journey! National Express work hard to reduce their environmental impact, with an average vehicle age of less than 5 years old, any vehicles purchased in the last 5 years meeting the latest standards for engine emissions and all vehicles fitted with a mechanism that automatically switches off the engine after 5 minutes idling.
Spending the Day in Liverpool
So on to the next part of this blog post. Maybe you’ve taken a National Express coach to Liverpool, or maybe you’ve arrived by other means. Now you need some ideas of what to do whilst you’re there. A quick disclaimer, we got a little distracted by lunch and wine bars so we didn’t get around to doing all of these things ourselves, but made a good dent!
Enjoy a View & Get Your Bearings
I’d highly recommend a trip up St John’s Beacon / Radio City Tower! For just £6.50 per person you get whizzed up to the top of the 138m tall building to enjoy spectacular views over the city. I loved doing this at the start of my day so that I could get an understanding of the scale of the city and where everything was.
Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is absolutely stunning and shouldn’t be missed if you’re visiting Liverpool. It’s the largest cathedral in the UK and the fifth largest in Europe, and it’s free to enter. There’s also a tower experience where you can climb to the top of the 500ft tower to enjoy even higher views than the ones you got from St John’s Beacon, or you can book onto an audio tour of the cathedral.
The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral is equally impressive, although very different from the Anglican Cathedral. It’s more modern, completed in 1967, and it’s also unlike any other cathedral that I’ve seen. You can simply wander around, explore the Lutyens crypt or attend one of their music concerts or special events.
Everywhere you look in Liverpool, there is reference to the Beatles. You can’t avoid it, and there are loads of Beatles related experiences for you to enjoy. You could book a tour of Mendips and 20 Forthlin Road (the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney), visit The Beatles Story exhibition, join the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, head to the Magical Beatles Museum or just have a drink at The Cavern Club.
If you’re not a Beatles fan but still want to pay your respect to the British music scene, there’s also the British Music Experience which tells the story of British Music through costumes, instruments, performance and memorabilia.
I couldn’t do this on my trip to Liverpool as the tours run on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings (I was there visiting on a Sunday). But if you book onto the Liverpool Queensway Mersey Tunnel Tour you can go beneath the city, walking under the Tunnel road surface and seeing the control room in operation. I’d have loved to have done this!
Expand Your Knowledge
There are some great museums in Liverpool! The City of Liverpool Museum is the largest museum dedicated to a city in the UK and showcases popular culture and brings the Liverpool’s heritage to life through more than 6,000 objects. If you’re in to modern art then you can’t miss Tate Liverpool, or you could learn about both historical and contemporary slavery at the International Slavery Museum. The World Museum has a bit of everything, from Egyptian mummies or dinosaur bones to an aquarium and a planetarium.
Lose Yourself in The Library
Even if you don’t like books, it’s worth paying a visit to the Liverpool Central Library. As well as being one of the largest public libraries in the UK, it’s also incredibly beautiful. You probably don’t have time to sit and read a book on your day trip to Liverpool, but I’d highly recommend a walk around the Picton reading room (not something that I managed on my recent trip but I did go previously with friends), or going up to the roof terrace for some beautiful views. They also have an Xbox 360 to keep the kids (or boyfriends) entertained.
Take A Walk Around the Royal Albert Docks
The Royal Albert Docks are home to some of the museums that I’ve mentioned above, as well as plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to relax in. There are events throughout the year, with a floating cinema showcasing classic films whilst I was visiting. Even when there’s nothing on, it’s a lovely place to wander around and enjoy the views across the Mersey.
Have a Long Lunch
It wouldn’t be an Adventures With Nell blog post without talking about food! As I was only visiting for the day I had to choose my lunch stop wisely and took the recommendation from a friend to visit Wreckfish Bistro for a Sunday roast. I had a beautifully buttery pate with cloud-like toasted focaccia to start, followed by the roast beef. The beef was melt-in-your-mouth pink, the roast potatoes were the perfect contrast of fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, and that gravy was like treacle! I complimented the waitress on the gravy and she told me that it takes several days to make, starting with around 20 litres of liquid and reducing down to just 2.
Dessert was honeycomb semi-freddo, dark chocolate sauce and fresh honeycomb and it was indulgently sweet and the perfect end to a fabulous meal. I’ll also mention the wine here, as you can’t have roast beef without red wine! We had a bottle of Les Coteaux Cotes du Rhone and it went perfectly with the food, and was mega smooth.
A will also mention some of the other restaurants that were recommended to me that I didn’t have the chance to try:
- Lunya for tapas
- Leaf – a teashop with a fantastic looking lunch menu
- Maray for a range of small plates
- Baltic Market – a street food market to suit all tastes
So, if you want to explore a new city or save some money on a day trip/weekend away then definitely consider National Express, and definitely consider Liverpool! If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with me, and for more information about National Express (and to find the best value fares) visit www.nationalexpress.com or call 0871 7818181.
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