Monday, April 18, 2011

Hello, Goodbye Liverpool

It was a Beatles-themed weekend in Liverpool for me. After a nearly 7-hour train journey that brought us through the lovely countryside, we arrived in Liverpool Lime St. Station.

I'm not sure what I expected from Liverpool. When I told friends where I was going, they asked why: wasn't it just a boring industrial city?

Right away, I noticed the amount of culture of the city. There were many trendy people with very unique clothing styles. Many had brightly dyed hair and heavy makeup, and the monuments and street decorations reflected the culture. Additionally, in 2008, the city was voted European Capital of Culture.

There were some great buildings, with many angles and shapes. There were few rectangular buildings, and the ones that were there still managed a modern-art look. For example, one rectangular office buildings with glass windows and at a slight angle, so when I looked up, I couldn't see the floors or ceilings, so it looked like it could be one continuous room.

The streets were adorned with modern art that added bright colours to this semi-industrial city.

The YHA Hostel was very nice. All of the areas were named after the Beatles; for example, we stayed in room 110 on the Penny Lane corridor. The bed was so much more comfortable than the one in my residence room, making it very hard to get out of bed in the morning.

We picked up transit bus passes and had the tourist information centre employee mark out the Beatles-related sites. The passes reminded me of Toronto bus passes, though significantly cheaper!

Our first stop was Penny Lane. I found a barber on Penny Lane, though sadly, it lacked windows showing photographs.

We hopped back on the bus for our next stop at Strawberry Field, the gates being the only remaining part of the former site for a Salvation Army home.

It has become a shrine to the Beatles, with many messages written on the gates.

We left Strawberry Field and walked along Menlove Avenue until we reached Mendips, which is John Lennon's childhood home. It's now a National Trust site, meaning it cost way too much for us to actually go inside.

We continued walking around the neighbourhood until we found St. Peter's Church in Woolton, a suburb of Liverpool. This is where Lennon and Paul McCartney met and first heard each other play, which led Lennon to invite McCartney into his then-band, the Quarrymen. It also has a grave for Eleanor Rigby, although the Beatles say they came up with the name before realising they must have been subconsciously remembering the grave.

After getting quite lost in Lennon's neighbourhood, we managed to find our way to 20 Forthlin Road, McCartney's childhood home. It didn't look as nice as Lennon's, but it was a beautiful street with some really pretty gardens.

Back in the city centre, we happened upon a peace monument to Lennon. I really liked the style of this one, with the monochromatic backdrop and the bright monument in front. It was unveiled last year on what would have been Lennon's 70th birthday.

Next, we made our way to Mathew Street, home to the Cavern Club and the Hard Day's Night Hotel.

We first found the statue to Eleanor Rigby, with a plaque dedicating it to all the lonely people.

From there we went into the Hard Day's Night Hotel, where I bought the most expensive drink I ever had. It was called Honey Can't Buy Me Love: "42 Below honey vodka, Amaretto and Chocolate Liqueur mixed together with Cream, and finished off with Fresh Grated Chocolate." Delicious.

The hotel had some great Beatles-related art, and live Beatles music. The performer was surprisingly good, singing with an effect on to do his own harmony, and it actually sounded great. 

We wandered back to the hostel for the night and got a good night's sleep to prepare us for the next day's adventure.

We began the day at the Beatles Story museum, where we saw all kinds of Beatles artifacts.

There were many old instruments, such as the one below. This was a room replicating the inside of the Cavern Club as it would be been when the Beatles first played there.

When we arrived at the museum, it was completely empty, so we were able to run around taking silly photos. We each took photos in front of our favourite Beatle: Saori with Ringo, Donald with John, and me with Paul. Poor George...

But of course, we also took photos with all the other members. There were some great set-ups.

There were little rooms dedicated to each member's legacy, so we took lots of photos there as well.

There was a beautiful replica of Lennon's White Room—though for some reason is more of a cream or yellow room in my photos—but that's OK!

They had full Beatles costumes to try on, but we were satisfied with the Mop Tops.

After the museum, we took a ferry 'cross the Mersey.

It was supposed to give us a little tour, sharing the history of Liverpool and the River Mersey. Unfortunately, it came out so muffled, sounding very much like the spoken announcements on the Toronto subway.

We spent our last few hours in the Mathew Street area, spending way too much money on souvenirs.

I bought a mug and a Help! t-shirt. My flatmates and I like to take photos in the Help! pose—although I've just learned that they are not spelling "Help" in flag semaphore. Apparently, it didn't look good enough for an album cover, so they actually spell out "NUJV."

Lastly, we made it to Ringo's childhood home. It was in a really dilapidated area, and apparently the homes there are going to be demolished soon. They all had construction signs around, with notes on the door telling would-be intruders that there are no valuables inside. 

Although we never made it to George's old home, it was ultimately a highly successful trip. We got to visit every single place on our must-see list, and then some.

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