Monthly Archives: January 2017

Sightseeing in Liverpool

Welcome back!

At the very end of my first week here in Wales I went on a day trip to Liverpool, which was organized by the International Exchange Office Bangor. In this blog entry I will let you know what I did there, I hope you enjoy reading it and looking at the photos as much as I enjoyed my day in Liverpool! 🙂

Getting from Bangor to Albert Dock in Liverpool by bus took us only about one and a half hour. Albert Dock is located right at the river Mersey and it is one of the main tourist sites of Liverpool, there are many gift shops, restaurants, cafés and quite a number of museums, including the Merseyside Maritime Museum, the International Slavery Museum and the The Beatles Story exhibition.

Our first destination was the Merseyside Maritime Museum right around the corner of the place where we got off the bus. This museum offers quite a number of exhibitions; at the moment the Titanic & Liverpool exhibition is probably the most visited one. What I liked in particular about this exhibition was an information board about the myths in relation to the Titanic and its sinking (click on the photo below and should be able to read it as well!). The famous movie was – of course – also featured in the exhibition.

After visiting the exhibition we went to the shop (because where else would we go to? 😀 ) where they sold everything you can imagine one can sell: Little Titanic replicas, a replica of Rose’s Heart of the Ocean (the necklace, even I know that! If you didn’t know you should watch the movie again! Ok I didn’t know the name of the necklace either and had to google it..I am such a noob, I need to watch more movies) but also a replica of a Titanic passenger card and even a SuperLamBanana plush! Wait! A what?? A SuperLamBanana! The SuperLamBanana is a mix of a lamb and a banana. It was designed by a Japanese artist and first presented as a sculpture in 1998 and became a kind of symbol for Liverpool. If you are interested in this, have a look at the SuperLamBanana website.I liked it quite a lot, both the idea and the design, and I would have certainly bought a plush if it hadn’t been as expensive as hell…

superlambanana

SuperLamBanana plush

Afterwards we went to The Beatles Story exhibition, but did not go in because it was rather expensive and we wanted to see as many different things as possible on that single day – so I definitely have something to do on my next visit to Liverpool. We went to the shop instead, where they sell everything you can imagine – have a close look at the photos below to get an impression of that. What I found most interesting was a Lego Yellow Submarine with Lego The Beatles, something I definitely didn’t expect to find there. Another interesting finding was a picture of The Beatles at a shop, which was entirely made out of beans. I wonder how long it took the people who made it to finalize it…

Our next stop after passing a number of shop at Albert Dock was the Cavern Club in Mathew Street. This is the place where The Beatles played over 200 concerts and became famous. On the opposite of the club there is the Cavern Pub, next to it one can find a sculpture of a young John Lennon, which is very popular to take a photo with. Right next to it one can see a huge number of names on The Cavern Wall of Fame – musicians who have played at the Cavern Club, from The Beatles and Queen to Adele.

Leaving a crowded Mathew Street behind us, we went through the city towards Liverpool Cathedral and came across many interesting shops and buildings, including a Liverpool FC shop – it was a must for me to visit that shop, although I am not really a Liverpool fan – and a building called “Grand Central”, which did not only look fascinating from outside but was also pretty cool inside with a videogame and comic store and other shops selling clothes or movie-related stuff.

On our way to the cathedral we came across Liverpool’s Chinatown, Europe’s oldest Chinatown. It has a very impressive arch, as you can see on the photo below. They are currently also building a new part or “city within a city” called New Chinatown, which was quite prominently advertised. The blue dragon you can see on the photo is used as a symbol for New Chinatown. One its official website it is described as “one of the most important and exciting development projects in the UK today”. I am really excited to the project finished one day.

Our last stop on this day was Liverpool Cathedral. It was very impressive from the outside, but even more inside. There was – of course – a shop here as well, selling many different products related to the cathedral and religion in general. What I found quite funny in there was what you can see on the photos below, a  Hero Bible and a Tabloid Bible. I think you can buy any kind of bible there. I said that if they sold 1D Bibles I would buy it, unfortunately (or rather fortunately for my credit card) they didn’t. But that might be solely due to the fact that the 1D hype is already over, who knows?

I was a bit sad about leaving Liverpool, I really enjoyed the time we spent there and the city had so much more to offer. I am planning to return soon, have a look at my last impressions of Liverpool at night below. I hope you indeed enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed the trip to Liverpool, next time I’ll let you know more about the academic side of my semester abroad – e.g. about the University system and the courses I take – the importance of Bilingualism here and my trip to the magnificent castle of Caernarfon. 🙂

Best wishes,

Alex

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Discovering Bangor & a lecture on Welsh history and culture

Welcome back!

If you have read my first entry you already know that my luggage got lost somewhere on my way from Vienna to Manchester. In this rather unpleasant situation I was forced to go shopping for toiletries and clothes mainly, but also for other stuff. That is what I basically did most of the time during my first week here, and of course discovering other parts of Bangor. I also attended a very interesting introductory lecture about Wales, I will share all insights I gained from this lecture in this blog entry as well. 🙂

Discovering Bangor

Shopping is usually a fun thing to do, but if you HAVE to do it, it becomes kind of…ok, no, to be honest it was still fun to buy everything I (thought I) needed. 😀 Thus, I got to know all the different shops in Bangor very soon, and there are a lot of them for such a small town: There are Topshop, H&M, Peacocks – sells very cool stuff, for instance Civil War pyjama pants, which I bought of course because I totally needed them…no really, I needed pyjama pants 😉 – and many more shops selling clothes. For food I went to Asda (which is very much like Interspar), Morrisons and Aldi (most of you know it as ‘Hofer’) and Lidl – It was very funny to see shops we have in Austria too, they look exactly the same but sell different products sometimes. The food is rather cheap here if you compare it to Austria, you can get a lot of stuff for just one pound (which is a bit more than one Euro) or even less.

I won’t bore you with photos or stories of buying toothpaste or detergent, no worries. 😉 I bought a lot of stuff, but maybe the most important things to me – which also made me feel more comfortable here – are my Bangor dragon plushy and some Wales Football merch, have a look at the pictures below to see it. The dragon is probably the cutest plushie I have ever seen and bought, they sell it at the International Office, so I guess it’s a must for Bangor exchange students. I feel honored to be allowed to live in one of the four best soccer nations in Europe, you know that I am a big Wales (the soccer team) and Gareth Bale fan so that stuff was also a must for me. I might also have the opportunity to play soccer here, at the moment I want to rest because of my ankle but I really want to play and will make all efforts I can to do that – you will learn about university sports clubs and societies and their importance here in future posts.

After discovering the central part of the city and the area around the university building (see photos below) I can say that there are as many seagulls in Bangor as there are doves in Vienna. I prefer the seagulls however, simply because they are laughing all the time.

I also found my way to the pier together with a friend. Have a look at the photos below to get an impression of the pier, maybe one of the most beautiful places here. It was a very sunny day, usually it’s rather cloudy, but my umbrella has been staying at the bottom of my backpack since I have arrived here – no (heavy) rain so far 😉

A lecture on Welsh history and culture

During the first week, which is called “Welcome Week”, we had the opportunity to listen to a lecture by a historian about Wales’ history and culture. The professor introduced us to the region by outlining the importance of slate in Wales and telling us a little bit about Wales past. He said that the castles in the Gwynedd region – the region Bangor is part of – were built by Edward I to impress people, and they certainly do. I hope I will see as many of them as possible soon. He briefly discussed the Celtic countries/regions/ languages and I was very surprised that Welsh, which is one of them, has the most native speakers of all Celtic languages, 20% of the three million inhabitants of Wales are native speakers of Welsh. Welsh is very important here in Bangor and Gwynedd, especially in the university context – I will provide more details on that in a future entry focusing on the academic part of my adventure – and you will certainly be surprised about the omnipresence of Welsh. 🙂

The professor – unfortunately I don’t know his name, but he is a local and very nice – also talked about the relationship between England and Wales and reminded us to never say that we are in England here. Wales is not England. Short but very important geographical note: Both Wales and England are part of the United Kingdom together with Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales is also part of Great Britain, which consists of Wales, England and Scotland (GB refers to the island, Northern Ireland is therefore not part of GB). “To insult a Welshman, call him an Englishman”, he said. He also remarked that there aren’t many Union Jacks here in Wales and as far as I can remember I have only seen one on a car but that was it. The red dragon is, of course, much more present.

As you might know, the Union Jack consists of St. Andrew’s Cross (Scotland), St. George’s Cross (England) and St. Patrick’s Cross (Northern Ireland) – Wales is not part of it. He provided us with a flag on which Wales is represented by the red dragon – have a look at the picture below – which, according to him, is meant as a joke, but I actually like it a lot. I certainly understand now why the Union Jack is not very popular in Wales. In the end I asked him about the Welsh Brexit vote and his reaction told me a lot: He was shaking his head and said he did not know what happened, especially since Wales (this region in particular) heavily relies on money coming from the EU. All in all, the lecture was very interesting and insightful to me, it answered many questions I had about Wales, but there are so much more yet to be answered.

unionjack

The Union Jack featuring Wales

I hope I could give you a good impression of my first week in Wales. It was probably not an exciting adventure this time but at the very beginning of such a long period far away from home – I will be here until June – it takes some time to get used to everything and shopping and walking around certainly helps a lot. Read my next blog entry to learn about my fantastic trip to Liverpool at the end of my first week here. 🙂

Best wishes,

Alex

 

My journey to Bangor

The journey to Bangor was long and exhausting for me because of my injured ankle, but at least full of sheep. 😉

My flight from Vienna to Brussels was delayed because of the weather conditions (snow and strong wind), which made me a bit nervous because I knew I would not have that much time to change planes in Brussels. However, that flight reminded me why I love flying: the take-off is just awesome and the flight attendants are super nice. 🙂

I asked one of the flight attendants if I could sit in the front part so that I could quickly move on to my flight to Manchester – business class, yes!!. I think it was around 9:30 when I could leave the plane and my flight to Manchester was scheduled to take-off at 9:55. I looked at the screen showing the flight numbers, gates and the time one needs to get to the gate. I had to get to B90 – the screen said it takes 22 minutes to get there. ‘Brussels is a small airport’ they said….uhm…nope. Now please think of the running scene in Home Alone, double the speed of the running people and you have an idea what I did then. I ran for my life, my ankle almost killing me. Without football training I would have collapsed soon, for sure.

In the end I made it! (Ok, to be honest the flight was also a bit delayed but still). Since the time window between the two flights was so small I feared that although I made it my bag would not make it. That is exactly what happened. I was a bit irritated because of that since there were quite a lot of things in the luggage that I needed, but I continued my journey on a train from Manchester airport to Crewe, from Crewe to Chester and then from Chester to Bangor. Here comes the sheep part: The landscape is actually very similar to my home Burgenland: Green valleys, “mountainous” (that is totally a matter of perspective!) and quite a number of castles. However, Wales comes with a sea view and A LOT OF sheep! I guess one of the reasons Wales is called the land of dragons is because it sounds so much cooler and the title ‘land of sheep’ is already taken…

I arrived safely in Bangor and soon stood in front of my student house. The first days were a bit difficult, in particular because of my delayed luggage and injured ankle, but to find out what I did in my first week in Bangor you need to read the next entry, which is coming soon!

Best wishes, Alex 🙂