Turning 21 in Liverpool

Trip Start Jan 03, 2013
Trip End Jun 02, 2013

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What I did
World Museum
Empire Theatre
Festival Gardens
Las Iguanas
Jungle Rumble Mini Golf

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hello everyone! I'm writing to you as a brand new person, twenty-one year old Phil!! I actually don't feel any different, I think turning twenty-one here in Liverpool is different than it would have been in the states. It's been legal for me to purchase alcohol here since I arrived, so I really didn't gain any new powers on March 1st. I've also never been, or had any intention to be, involved in the drinking culture in college, so turning twenty-one doesn't bring a lot of excitement in that area. What is exciting were all of the fun things I got to do to celebrate my birthday, and Kendra's on March 6 (I love that our birthdays are so close, because its sort of like I get two birthdays!!). All in all, it was an amazing birthday week filled with great friends, tasty food, (a few) nice drinks, and a couple of fun nights out in Liverpool. 

My actual birthday was last Friday, but I got to start celebrating Thursday night when Kendra told me she was taking me downtown for a surprise! I'm not really the best at guessing things, so at first I really didn't have an idea what we would be doing. I was only told that the night would involve milkshakes, but that didn't give much away. When we were on the train I was allowed to ask three questions, and when I asked "are we going to be sitting or standing?" and the answer was standing I knew we were going mini-golfing! Every time I've been to Liverpool One we walk past an indoor mini-golf place that just looks so cool; its called Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf. We walked in, and I was a little surprised to see so many "adults." The place was filled with 30 or 40 somethings dressed in business attire and sipping drinks from the bar. We chose to play the 18 hole volcano course. I started off strong, but by hole 5 Kendra was already taking the lead. I got out my camera to film some of our shots, and it just so happens that Kendra got a hole in one, while I messed up pretty bad (check out the video). The course was fun, and I ended up scoring a hole in one as well! At the end there was a 19th hole that you can try to win a prize if you get it in a certain hole, and Kendra ended up winning a "buy one get one free" game. She also beat me, 52 to 54, because I messed up bad on the 18th hole.

Next was the milkshake portion of the night. The Jungle Rumble was supposed to be known for their milkshakes, but it was pretty busy so we decided to go to the Sblended ice cream shop that was very near. We both got Kinder Bueno and mint Aero (both candy bars here) shakes, and enjoyed them in the courtyard of Liverpool One. While we were eating I decided to try out some of the low light photography skills I learned the previous week. I set my camera on a stone bench and took some shots with shutter open for 13 or 15 seconds. I got some of the colorful lights, as well as the ferris wheel. On the way back to the train station, we ran into several large painted easter eggs! Currently in Liverpool One there are 101 easter eggs painted by local artists. You can get a book and try to find all of them if you'd like. My favorites were the Spongebob and Thomas the Train eggs. There was also a giant gold bunny, and if you text a number you can win free Lindt chocolate for a year!! I'm still waiting for my call. We walked back to the train, after being slightly creeped out because there was hardly anybody walking around, and I went to bed after a fantastic birthday eve.

Friday, I'm 21! I struggled through my morning class, sustainable future, and was a bit perturbed at the non-structure of this weeks class. We had to get into groups to discuss articles that we were supposed to read, but didn't know we had to read, so needless to say not much conversation occurred. We ended up learning about a project our tutor (remember professors are called tutors here) was doing in Liverpool. As a sustainability initiative, he helps to run a community garden in the area. He was very exciting telling us about a "state of the art" 10,000 pound composting toilet that is now on the grounds. We also learned about "guerilla gardening" that takes place in the UK. It's basically where people plant things in any unused land they can find, like on the side of the street or next to a train track. Our tutor ended by asking everyone if they liked leeks because he has a lot of extra from the garden that he will bring in next week. I didn't really know what a leek was so I looked it up and kind of got laughed at by one of the British students in our class. 

After lunch we went back to Aigburth and Kendra and I took a walk to find a geocache! We walked about an hour to Princes Park. It was a smaller park, but had a little lake with some ducks and such. We had fun on some of the playground equipment, especially this giant swing that three people could sit on. We also made use of the outdoor fitness equipment that was more fun than a workout. The geocache was nearby on Madyrn Street, where Ringo Starr lived when he was a kid! We got to the street and it was completely deserted. Nobody lived in the homes and it looked as if some of the buildings were burned. Everything was covered in graffiti and most of the windows were shattered. The geocache was located on the street sign (the face of it was actually missing and somebody just wrote the street back in). It was just a plastic bag magneted to the metal sign. I was glad nobody was around because it looked like we were doing a drug deal. We were going to walk down the street but but we were both worried we were going to get mugged so we got out of there right away.

When we got back we met up with our other friends and went to a place called Maranto's down on Lark Lane. I ordered a fantastic veggie pizza and some potato wedges, as well as a drink called a Mai Tai. I also got a piece of tomato bruschetta, but it wasn't worth the five pounds I spent. It was pretty tiny.. I got another drink at the bar and nobody even asked me for my ID. Nobody ever really asks here, but I was hoping they would today. Anyway, the meal was fantastic. On the way back we stopped at the Tesco for a couple of ciders. This is a local drink, and I've grown pretty fond of the strawberry lime ones. Back at Aigburth there was a surprise waiting for me! I found a note in the lounge telling me to look in the cupboards, and found a tasty chocolate cake with a 21 made out of caramel on it. Sarah, Clara, and Emily had made it while Kendra and I were taking a walk. This was a fantastic (and extremely tasty) end my 21st birthday. 

The only thing that was missing was my family and friends back home! Thank you to everyone for birthday wishes and gifts :)

I basically had three days of birthday, and Saturday was day three. We made our way downtown again for a day of museums ending with a Beatles concert in their birthplace, the Cavern Club. We went to the World Museum, which was delightfully free! The museum was great. We started by getting tickets to the planetarium and "meet the mummy" shows, both free also. The meet the mummy show was a little different than we expected. I would have gotten a bit more enjoyment if was 10 years younger, but it was still fun. Instead of a real mummy, it was a plastic dummy, and kids volunteered to mummify it. One was in charge of pulling all of the brains out, and man did those brains look real! I volunteered to help wrap him up along with some other little kids. I couldn't turn down the Pharoh guy that asked me.
After we looked at aquariums, followed by a bug exhibit. I was so excited to see the leafcutter ants, it brought back memories of Panama (I'm also just fascinated with ants). We could see a colony of ants up close, cutting leaves then carrying the fragments over a rope in a line back to their dirt home. I watched them for quite a while. I also enjoyed the natural history exhibit, a included basically every animal you can think of stuffed and placed in drawers. There was also a collection of minerals and I tried to remember what I could from my mineralogy class. We saw dinosaur and Egyptian exhibits before ending with the planetarium show. It didn't compare to the Barlow Planetarium in Wisconsin, not even close, but the chairs were really comfy and I was pretty tired after walking all day.

We had a few hours before the Cavern Club show, so we went down Bold Street to find a place to eat. Most of the restaurants were closed, but we found a little place called Soul Cafe. I got vegetarian chili and rice, and also a lemonade which was the cause of a bit of embarrassment. The lemonade tasted pretty weird so I decided to put a little sugar in. Five seconds later it shot up like science experiment where you add baking soda to vinegar. I don't know if it was actually sugar or some type of explosive I poured into my drink, but either way I was covered in lemonade. I made use of many, many napkins. After awhile a many with a giant case walked into the cafe, and it turned out he was a performer, and he also looked very familiar. We had seen him sing down on Lark Lane a few weeks earlier. He was pretty good, and we stayed a little while before heading to Matthews Street and the Cavern Club. Matthews Street is completely lit up, but it was still a bit unnerving as none of us were really used to the club scene. We walked down the 6 flights of steps to the Cavern Club and were met with an extremely packed cave. Our show didn't start till 8:30, and it wasn't even 8 yet so we just kind of hung around in a corner until they let us in, right at 8:30. The show was is a side room, and luckily we were in the front of the line so we were able to scramble and grab a seat before everybody else. We also got drinks and got settled before the majority of the crowd was inside. The band was awesome. This was as close you could get to actually seeing the Beatles without using a time machine. The band played through the different era's of Beatles music, changing costume when appropriate. They even played the Birthday song (I'm pretty sure just because I was there ;) After an extended Hey Jude to end the night, we got a Taxi back to Aigburth. The last train leaves at 11:45 and we missed that, but it was only 2 pounds each (black cabs here fit 5 people) and was a short 10 minute ride back home. With ringing ears, I went to bed, quite content.

Sunday and Monday I spent writing my history essay, which I finally finished on Monday night. Thank God. It was a pretty rough one.

Tuesday was Kendra's last day as a 20 year old! I came to campus for class, and Kendra met up with us here for lunch. Afterwards, we formed a team for a campus Easter egg hunt/scavenger hunt. Only two teams showed up, but even with our limited knowledge of the campus we ended up finishing first, only taking about 10 minutes. We won a giant chocolate Easter egg and a bunch of candy bars. Kendra was pretty happy (she's very competitive if you didn't know :) 

We went back to Aigburth and took a walk around Festival Gardens before getting ready to go out. I had a surprise for Kendra too! Except it wasn't really a surprise because Kendra's too good at guessing. I got tickets for us to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Empire Theatre downtown. We had dinner at Las Iguanas (the place we went for Valentine's Day) because we signed up for the email list and got a free meal because it was our birthdays! We also got two free and unexpected drinks. What a deal!

I've never seen the Phantom of the Opera, and its one of Kendra's favorites so we were both very excited. The show was fantastic, complete with some great pyrotechnics. I was amazed, and couldn't get the music out of my head. I knew the music from middle school when we played it in orchestra. It was a fantastic evening!

Wednesday, Happy Birthday Kendra! Kendra decided it would be fun to hide a geocache, so we found a container, camouflaged it, and walked to Sefton Park. On the way there, we stopped at Tesco and we all four got chocolate croissants for "lunch." We probably looked pretty goofy all carrying these through the park, but it was fun. Next we tried to find a good spot for the geocache. During our search, we met a few nice people. One couple from Liverpool stopped to ask us all where we were from, and shortly after we met a man who will forever be known as "the bird man." He carries bags of worms and peanuts around to attract and feed the local birds and squirrels. It was actually fun to watch, at one point a whole bunch of UK robins were all around us. During our conversation he turned to Kendra and said "I bet your mum told you to never take anything from a strange man, right?" Kendra nervously said yes. He ended up handing me a bunch of peanuts and taught us how to feed the wildlife. This made for a fun afternoon. Everyone got to feed a squirrel, but apparently squirrels don't like me because I couldn't get one to come near me until the very end. I had better luck throwing the peanuts at birds to eat. We found a great place for the geocache, and recorded the coordinates. We ran into the bird man once more, and he directed us to a famous tree in the park called "sitting tree." It was very gnarley looking, and super strong as even the thinnest of branches didn't break if you sat or hung on them. I attempted to climb it but ended up almost impaling my back with one of the unbreakable branches so I changed my mind.

We returned home after picking up supplies for Kendra's cake as well as Kendra's favorite cider from the Bargain Booze, and were disappointed to learn our geocache had not been approved because it was too close to another one. We'll have to go back and move it before anybody can find it.

We also stopped at the Trinity Room to bring some games back to our flat for some partying. All they have is giant versions of games, so we walked back to the flat with a giant deck of cards, a giant connect four game, and giant version of Jenga (this weighed about a billion pounds..) I fooled everyone in the flat, telling them I got free pizzas because the Jenga was in a bag that looked like a Pizza Hut bag. Everyone craved pizza after that. We had an enjoyable afternoon and night playing games, cooking and eating cake, and watching some of the videos I took during the past few weeks. We couldn't stop laughing after watching a video from the Chester Zoo where my voice matched up perfectly with a camels chewing. This wasn't on purpose! I'll have to post this later. We finished the night by printing out our history papers and playing a few games of pool. Another fun day. So many fun days in a row!

Today I had War and Empire in the morning, and I got my first paper back. I ended up getting an A, which made me very happy because I didn't know what to expect with differences in grading here. Later, it rained on my parade (that's an expression right?) when I discovered that my power adapter for my Macbook Pro is broken. The cord is all frayed and it stopped working. You'd think a company like Apple would know how to design a charging cable, but they don't. A new one costs $79, but I'm going to go to the Apple store downtown this weekend to see if they can replace it somehow. Here's to hoping.

I've been sitting in the Eden building writing this post for awhile, and earlier somebody came up and asked me what part of the US I'm from. He must have heard me talk. He said his fiance is from Arizona, and he's been to Wisconsin before too! He was jealous when I told him I've been to Yellowstone. He introduced himself to me, his name is Dave. People are very, very nice here.

I've got a new pile of books to start working through to write my religion essay that's due next Friday, this is what my week will be devoted to.

Thanks for reading such a long post. If you've made it this far, congratulations! If I haven't taken all of your time, check out my pictures and videos below. There's some pretty good ones, I promise!

Click the links!

My Last Day as 20 Year Old
My 21st Birthday
World Museum and Cavern Club
Kendra's Last Day as a 20 Year Old 
Kendra's 21st Birthday

Hope all is well back home,

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Megan on

All the birthday adventures! Also I rather enjoyed that Mmmbop was playing at the mini golf place! :D


Megan on

Also I love love love that you made your own Geocache! SNC REPRESENT!


Megan on

ANNND lovely singing. Probably the best version of happy birthday I've ever heard!


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