The Cavern Club where the Beatles performed over 200 times.
By AUGIE FAVAZZA, PHOTOS By TERESA FAVAZZA
The Beatles were the reason for this overnight visit to Liverpool to celebrate my 66th birthday.
The 3 3/4 hour train ride to Liverpool was fine, except I was surprised there was no WIFI which makes it difficult to post blogs in a timely manner. That’s frustrating for a former journalist accustomed to making deadlines.
Posing with statue of John Lennon
I have been blogging mostly by writing in the wordpress.com app on my Droid cell phone. Once I reach WIFI zone, I switch to my IPad where Teresa’s photos are downloaded from the camera. I continue to use the IPad wordpress.com app to upload photos to the text of my blog post. I am usually publishing a post around midnight, which is 7 p.m. EST., while Teresa is asleep. I find I write best in the late hours, perhaps a carry over from my sports writing days when many games stories were written at that hour.
We had to transfer trains to reach Liverpool, but that went smoothly thanks to a concession worker’s tip confirming the right track and train. We struck up a conversation with a woman from Liverpool. She made many suggestions about what to do, although we sensed she was not a big fan of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
I have always enjoyed the Beatles, especially since I play many of their popular ballads on the piano. However, I am not a fanatic, although I recall listening to LPs played backwards on a turn table in my freshman dorm room with my roommate Steve Berra . I was an usher at Busch Stadium in August, 1966 when the Beatles played before 55,000, mostly screaming teenage girls.
Paul McCartney’s home as a teenager. He and John Lennon wrote over 100 songs there.
Teresa, Joanie and Steve were willing to celebrate my 66th birthday with the Beatles Story exhibit and Magical Mystery Tour bus tour. Steve summed it up by saying, ” I loved the Beatles’ music but really didn’t know much of their history. ”
Well, we saw plenty of that. Liverpool is Beatles Mania on steroids for several square miles of the city center. Everywhere you looked, you saw their likenesses.
Early Days of the Beatles before Ringo replaced George Best.
We stayed at the Hampton by Hilton in city center, a short walk to Albert’s Dock where the Beatles Story exhibit is located and the Magical Mystery Tour bus embarks. I would recommend the Hampton by Hilton because it is reasonable, modern and clean, if you are planning a Beatles pilgrimage. Our rooms were free due to my Hilton Honors Diamond points status earned during beauty school accreditation work.
A marquee of bricks outside the Cavern Club.
The cabbie who delivered us to the hotel praised the Beatles Story exhibit but said if you are a serious Beatles’ fans, you might find the Magical Mystery Tour boring. Obviously loyal to his fellow cabbies, he recommended the Beatles taxi tour instead. The Liverpool native had that distinctive Beatles-sounding accent. He and every local we met seemed to have a great sense of pride in the city of half million people. It reminded me of a recent trip to Memphis and a tour of Graceland.
You can rent the Yellow Submarine houseboat that sleeps 12.
Liverpool’s Albert Dock has plenty of restaurants and the harbor area is quite interesting. We got a kick out of several elaborate house boats. Some you can rent sleeping up to 12, particularly the Yellow Submarine and Liverpool Titanic, complete with 4 smoke stacks.
We first went to the Beatles Story. Tickets were reasonable and good for 2 days. I guess a real hardcore Fab Four enthusiast could spend 48 hours listening to the audio hand-set presentation that included narration and individual videos of Beatles, promoters (especially manager Brian Epstein who died during the bands’ run of gold records, fans. ) Actually, a good friend, Russ Garvey of Sarasota, is a Beatles’ aficionado with every vinyl album. He is planning such a trip next year.
The exhibits that document the Beatles ‘ story are well put together with music, pictures, videos and props. We enjoyed sitting in rows of airline seats seeing the Fab Four arriving at JFK Airport and following their first American tour.
According to our guide, the four bells of the Catholic Cathedral are named after four apostles — John, Paul, George and Ringo
We were impressed with the perseverance and struggles of the band known by various names — most notably the Quarrymen in their early years.
Toward the end of the tour — you go at your own pace, you come to individual exhibits of each Beatle. I learned that McCartney has financially supported his old performing arts school, and it is now one of the most sought -out schools of its kind. He personally hands graduates diplomas.
Noon the next day, we boarded the Magical Mystery Tour bus. That ticket was reasonable too. Jay, our guide, was very knowledgeable and grew up in the same neighborhood and attended the same high school as John Lennon.
Boarding the Magical Mystery Tour bus.
Beatles songs, of course, were played at appropriate locations of interest — Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane and at the churchyard where Eleanor Rigby is truly buried. There was a back story to each place
Strawberry Fields where John would go to check out girls at the school for unwed mothers
The bus gave us a good look at Liverpool neighborhoods. The grand Anglican Cathedral, the fifth largest in Europe, where Paul McCartney was rejected by the choir leader who said didn’t have a strong enough voice. Years later, McCartney would perform there . He invited the choir master, who told McCartney he was responsible for his success.
George Harrison’s neighborhood called Arnold Grove. He used that name when registering at hotels.
The bus stopped at the teenage- year homes of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Ringo and George grew up definitely poor. Ringo was very ill as a youngster. The woman who lives in the former Harrison tiny brick home has been offered a half million pounds for it. John’s more upper class home is owned by a national trust as is McCarthy’s.