What is the first word that comes to mind when you hear Liverpool? For most people the answer is the Beatles. Liverpool is the birthplace and base for the Beatles meteoric rise to worldwide fame. My husband and I were no different, so we opted for a Beatles’ bus tour during our short stay in the city.
We joined the Magical Mystery Tour at the historic Albert Docks. Most people on the tour seemed to know much more than we did about the Beatles’ lives, but our guide brought us up to speed throughout the tour. We saw where the various members were born as well as many of the places they made famous in their songs.
One of our first photo op stops was at Penny Lane. The freestanding street signs have been replaced by signs painted on the walls because tourists kept stealing the signs. As we drove, our guide also pointed out the “shelter in the middle of the roundabout” featured in “Penny Lane.” Another memorable stop was at the Strawberry Fields which had just recently opened its red gates to the public. We were intrigued by St. Peter’s Church, made famous in the song “Eleanor Rigby.”
Our final stop was at the Cavern Club, where the Beatles performed on a regular basis. It was here that they developed their style and met Brian Epstein who became their manager. It was also at the Cavern Club where the Beatles became famous. We took advantage of the stop and had lunch at the Cavern Club Pub and then wandered the twisting streets.
Don’t worry if a member of your party wants to take a Beatles’ tour and you aren’t a huge Beatles fan. Our guide also provided historical information as we passed various places. For example, Liverpool was one of the most blitzed cities in Europe because, until WWII, it was one of the major transatlantic trade ports. The Beatles, who were born between 1940 and 1943, grew up in a bombed-out city that still carried the scars from the war. Liverpool’s long music heritage also impacted the Beatles. The Mersey (river) beat movement that pre-dated the Beatles and the Beatles’ music have made Liverpool a UNESCO City of Music. Amazingly enough, the first #1 song out of Liverpool was not a Beatles’ song; it was “How Much Is that Doggie in the Window” by Litz Roza in 1953.
We were only in Liverpool for 18 hours, so we had to make some difficult choices. We were fortunate to sail into the Albert Docks and see the afternoon sun reflecting off the magnificent buildings, but we didn’t have much time to explore them. We strolled along the docks’ boardwalk after dinner, but the museums inside the docks, including the Tate Gallery and The Beatles Story, were closed. I would love to go back and visit the Liverpool Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Britain and the fifth largest in Europe. Liverpool does not have a reputation as a major tourist attraction, but after visiting, I would say that it has a lot to see and enjoy.
Have you been to Liverpool and toured the Beatles Story? If so, please share your experiences in the comment section below.