Europe in Argentina
Liverpool and The Beatles, in private
By Sylvie Berthiaume - At destination
A getaway combining pleasure and nostalgia for some, or a pilgrimage to meet idols for the other, may prove to be an even more profound experience than we could imagine.
A few days in Liverpool, especially with private or semi-private tours, promise an immersion in a cultural and social revolution, an introspection on the conjugation of youth/talent/passion/the unknown/hope/celebrity, a return to our own roots if we have lived in the 1960-70s era, and a sharp observation of life.
This is obviously the case for visitors of all ages that we have encountered in Liverpool.
The Beatles’ "Planet"
Let’s say it, apart from the historical and current naval activities in the Port of Liverpool, the whole city lives to the rhythm and with representations of The Beatles.
Airport, train station, hotels, bars, restaurants, dishes, drinks, places, museum, theatres, guided tours, individual and group statues in actual sizes or busts…
It’s impossible to escape the new or renewed craze.
It’s impossible not to see titles of their most popular songs everywhere, not to sing them, not to dream about them all night long.
Magical Mystery Tour, Revolution, Twist & Shout, Day Tripper, Sgt. Pepper's, Lovely Rita, Ticket to Ride... See? You are already hooked!
Following in their footsteps, through the city and their intimacy
Here are two activities that we qualify as musts, to make you smile even more, reflect, and tear up. They are fully worth their slightly higher price than for large group visits.
We suggest you to make them on two separate days, in order to feel the impregnating and long lasting effect of what you will see and hear.
The FAB4Taxi Tour
In a large typical English Cab, the private guide shares with us his enthusiasm, emotion and unwavering admiration for the Beatles, their story in the city, as well as his musical knowledge to support the descriptions of their compositions.
With him, we see and hear much more facts, less known or unknown details, and anecdotes than during a regular tourist bus tour.
This true experience can be achieved during 2, 3, 4, or even 5 hours, alone or with up to four friends, paying 55 to 115 Sterling Pounds. It is highly recommended to make a reservation in advance, online: www.fab4taxitour.com
The visit is not just the "passing by" type. At every significant spot, we get off the car, walk on the same sidewalks, touch the same doors and fences, sit in the same school steps, and on the authentic guitar suitcase that became part of an urban sculpture, etc.
We learn about the Beatles families’ very intimate stories and links that existed between the members of the group, in their prime. And the guide challenges us in our own knowledge of the Beatles. It is therefore very interactive.
Through his passionate gaze, his words, his smiles, his melancholy, complicity is established automatically. On the road in the grand taxi, The Beatles songs are selected according to their meaning and link to our next stop:
Under the window of the hospital where John Lennon was born; driving around the roundabout and by the barber shop mentioned in a song; praying or satisfying our curiosity on the tomb of Eleanor Rigby in the cemetery besides the church where John and Paul began their musical collaboration; almost being part of the scene, at the door of the small apartment where John and Cynthia have celebrated their marriage while very loud construction works were underway; being sad in front of the basement where their first masterful agent, Brian Epstein, secretly met his lovers, before dying prematurely; walking on Penny Lane, the beautiful tree-lined avenue; and of course, proudly posing in front of Strawberry Fields fence, while discovering with emotion the real crucial meaning of this place for John Lennon, why he has named this place and this song "Strawberry", etc...
We get proof, again and again, that the Beatles had the genius to see and to create poetry with the ordinary life, places and situations. Actor Alec Baldwin, during a tribute at the Kennedy Center, accurately stated: "Paul married rock’n roll to beauty".
For example, the song Eleanor Rigby, begins by "all the lonely people, where do they all come from"… In fact, Eleanor Rigby - a person John and Paul did not know - is a name engraved on a tomb in a cemetery. Obviously it is surrounded by people alone in their coffins. Then, "Father McKenzie", is another name engraved on a tomb. That is the kind of information the guide shares with us.
A little later, our eyes are wide open in front of the parental houses where Paul, John, George and Ringo were living when the group really started being successful. They did not have time to move.
That of George, on Upton Greene, coquettish with its bright blue door, hidden behind the trees. Ringo’s one, in the poorest neighbourhood of Liverpool, on Madryn St. in Welsh district, entirely to the abandonment and then requisitioned by the Council of the city, which juggles with the idea of demolishing everything to revitalize the neighbourhood. However, fans would like Ringo’s house to be preserved.
And next... What a fabulous idea…
INSIDE Paul’s and John’s houses!
With a historian guide of UK National Trust, small groups of 7 or 8 people have regularly the ultimate privilege to live truly charming moments: Getting inside Paul’s youth modest home, on Forthlin St., in a municipal housing project, and do the same in that of John's, called Mendips, on Menlove Ave., in a middle-class district.
These houses have been restored and furnished with careful respect of the time and family photos: colors, fabrics, wallpapers, kitchen ware, etc.
The sensation is unspeakable: the dopamin releases in our body and soul… step by step, in the garden, hallway, kitchen, living-room, bathroom, and especially... in the tiny room where there was only a small bed, a dresser, a chair, a record-player: it was sufficient to encourage these geniuses to compose their first magical songs.
To maintain the legend and an incomparable souvenir, nobody has the right to take photographs or to film inside… We are also asked not to publish the very intimate stories the guide tells us in and around the house, in order to preserve the magic of discovery for the next visitors. But he grants us with a postcard. We agree with the purpose, and forgive him!
The visit lasts 2 hours: Its costs only 25 Sterling Pounds, which is almost a gift, as we learn and live so much. It must be booked in advance.
Tickets are sold through the UK National Trust website, or at the Liverpool Tourism Office, on Albert Dock. At the fixed day and time, the gathering point is at the door of a neighbouring hotel, and a small shuttle bus takes us to Paul and John.
Another option, or why not in addition: The City map, which can be obtained at the Tourism Office, contains not less than 92 meaningful stops. It is the most economical way to follow the history of The Beatles, but without experts’ comments.
When evening comes: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
Happy Hour is the best time to walk toward The Beatles' professional district, on Mathew Street. Let's have a beer in one of their favorite pubs, a bite in another, as they did,before entering the mythical Club: The Cavern, where everything has begun. Previously, we had to buy our ticket, online long in advance because it is always full, or at the Tourism Office.
Of course, there are "Tribute to the Beatles” performances, but as always, The Cavern Club is the place that gives a chance to new artists to be discovered.
It is necessary to know that we enter in the authentic Club, but that today’s entry door is immediately next to the original, which was closed permanently several years ago due to a fire. This original entry is well indicated, to make sure everybody gets the appropriate "selfie".
Sleeping time: It's Been a Hard Days Night
If you have the financial possibility, you should treat yourself with a night at the 5-star hotel recently established, near Mathew Street, and rightly named The Hard Day’s Night Hotel.
Needless to say that The Beatles are ubiquitous in paintings, sculptures, photographs, musical instruments and artifacts, in the lobby, at the bar, in the restaurant and in the 110 rooms.
If you are not so well off financially, you could stay at the very nice and comfortable Campanile Liverpool. The British humor is present, on the walls and on the menus: "Wine… Wine not? "- "We have beer as cold as your ex's heart!" - "Alcohol: Because no great story started with a salad!"
Otherwise, Liverpool is really giving plenty of choices in terms of hotels, guest houses, and prices.
Beatlemania, in August
For all enthusiasts who want even more, the month of August attracts each year more than 40 groups of musicians celebrating The Beatles’ music, during International Beatle Week Festival, from 22 to 28 August 2018.
In the wind
In French, The Beatles’ nickname is "The 4 boys in the wind". This perfectly corresponds to the expression of their time to illustrate what was "trendy". One could say that this also reflects the climate of their city of origin, because Liverpool is constantly under very strong wind.
Liverpool is also…
Apart from The Beatles, we discover a beautiful port district, fully renovated and lively - notably on Albert Dock. And several museums of art and history. The creative gastronomy of young chefs is also very present and vibrant.
A detour, only a few hours away from London, by train: Absolutely Fab.