And, then there was Liverpool…..
To say this was the highlight of the trip would be an understatement! First…..it wasn’t supposed to be part of the trip, at all! The original itinerary for this cruise was Azores and three stops in Ireland – Cork, Waterford, and Dublin…..and only one day in Cork with eight days to cross the Atlantic! I wasn’t that interested in Waterford – none of the shore excursion options caught my eye – so, I planned to just maybe go to the Waterford Crystal facility and wander around a bit. I was, however, considering extending my stay after the cruise before I flew home and maybe visit London while I was over there…..with the main reason being seeing some Beatles related stuff and maybe the castle from Downton Abbey! I was just about to go talk to Mitzy at Orleans Travel to find out how much it would cost to do that and see if it was something I could manage to add on to the vacation – I logged onto my itinerary to double check dates so I would have all the info she’d need to help me out…….it took me all of two seconds to let out a scream and get all excited……the itinerary had changed — now, instead of Waterford, Ireland, the middle stop in the UK was Liverpool, England…..the ultimate Beatles location!!! OMG!!! I thought it was a glitch…….something funky happened to the web site…..cause, there were other changes, too — like, it was now only taking seven days to get across the ocean and the extra day was added onto Cork (the reason for the docking issues I mentioned in TAC 3)! So, I called Celebrity Cruise Lines and they confirmed that the itinerary had, indeed, changed and that Waterford was definitely replaced with Liverpool!!! First, they just saved me a bunch of money cause I no longer felt the need to go to London (at least not on this trip)……second (well, actually, first and foremost), I was going to get to see where it all started for the Beatles!!! A dream come true……yes, if you’re counting, this was the THIRD dream come true in one trip!!!
You see, the Beatles hold some of the most wonderful memories of my Mom for me……of course, there are TONS of wonderful memories, but a love of the Beatles is something we shared right from the moment they stepped foot off that airplane on February 7, 1964 – I had just turned 7 years old the previous October! Mom and I sat glued to the TV watching them arrive and all the girls screaming……and we screamed, too! Then, together we sat and watched them on the Ed Sullivan Show two days later! Later that same year, Mom took me to the theater in downtown Albion to see their movie when it came out……A Hard Days Night! We sat in the front row in the balcony – the theater was PACKED with screaming young girls – we couldn’t hear any of the movie! LOL Back then, they would allow you to stay and watch the movie on the second showing without paying again — so, we did – we stayed and watched it, again! Of course, we went to see their next movie in 1965, too…….Mom took a whole car load of our friends to the drive-in (I think it was Transit Drive-In, but might have been Middleport – I know it wasn’t Orleans Drive-In in Albion) to see Help! What a great night! Mom bought all of their albums and we played them and danced to them and sang all the songs……me and Mom and The Beatles!!! Then, in June 2006, I was going to a seminar in Las Vegas, so I invited Mom to come stay with me – she’d always wanted to go to Vegas! While we were there, I got tickets for us to see the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show called Love at the Mirage – an early birthday present for her! WE LOVED IT!!! So, we had a history and a lot of shared memories with the lads! So, to say that this was going to be an emotional day would be like saying Niagara Falls is a little bit of a trickle of water! I was overwhelmed with emotion leading up to that day and throughout it……I was there……but, without Mom…..but, I also knew for sure she was right there with me!!! I was in tears a good part of the day —- happy tears!!!
Anyway —- here’s my day in Liverpool…..one of the top thrills of my life!!!
My morning veranda selfie after docking in Liverpool port!
I bought these leggings specifically to wear in Liverpool! 🙂
The port of Liverpool is an amazing port……so vibrant! It is in Liverpool Bay on the River Mersey — you know – the one mentioned in the song Ferry Cross the Mersey, by Gerry and the Pacemakers! And, the city is right there — lots of ports, you have to go a ways to get to the city, but it’s all right there!
I booked a tour called “In The Steps of the Beatles” – a four hour tour around Liverpool to see everything that had anything to do with the Beatles! Our first stop was The Beatles Story – an interactive exhibition/museum in an old warehouse on the river front not far from where we were docked.
Unfortunately, this is the only photo of Strawberry Fields I was able to get —- we did go there on the tour, but it was under construction and the bus couldn’t stop to let us out…….and the gate and beyond was obscured to the point we couldn’t even get a photo from the bus window! But, that’s OK…….we saw so much more!
There were several pairs of John’s glasses on display
At the end of the museum tour, they had a great gift shop — I got t-shirts for me and my nephew and niece and guitar picks for my nephew, who is learning to play, and some other cool little trinkets…….and THIS AWESOME HAT!!!
After we drove around the city a little bit, we got out and walked down Mathew Street where the Cavern Club was!
Liverpool isn’t only the home of the Beatles…….we were told that there are more #1 songs from groups who have ties to Liverpool than any other city in the world!!! This brick wall has all the names of the singers and groups who performed at the Cavern Club between 1957-1973 and a few in the 90’s!
50% of the original Cavern Club is still there……I believe they said a fire destroyed part of it……but, much of the original building is still there and in the same spot at 10 Mathew Street!
The tour didn’t include getting to go inside…….someday, I’ll go back and go in!!!
This is a tribute to the late singer, Cilla Black, who worked at the Cavern as a hat check girl before becoming a star in the late 60s, early 70s
This display is by local artists — all suitcases and trunks representing famous people who lived or had ties to Liverpool — the sculpture is titled “A Case History” and is located on Hope Street near the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (more on that later) and The Liverpool School of Art, where John Lennon attended.
Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts – founded by Paul McCartney! Paul still personally hands out the diplomas to every graduating class each year!
If I remember correctly, this is the Liverpool School of Art that John attended…….
Penny Lane……it is actually a district, not just a street – Paul and John both lived there as young boys (Paul much longer than John). There are several of these signs designating the district – this just happens to be the one the bus stopped at so we could get off for a photo. We drove through the whole district. There is a sign we didn’t get to see that Paul signed during his Car Poll Karaoke ride with James Corden. Wish I had seen that one!
The church where Paul sang in the choir as a young lad
We drove by the childhood home of John
Not a usual physical stop, we were able to get out and see the childhood home of Paul…….this was a bonus because we weren’t able to get out at Strawberry Field!
Paul’s home – Paul and John wrote many of their early songs here and they would play them for Paul’s parents and his father would give them advice on the songs — for instance, he strongly suggested they not “American-ize their lyrics and change it to ‘she loves you, yes, yes, yes‘ “…….luckily, they didn’t take his suggestion, cause “she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” really does sound so much better! LOL
When Yoko Ono heard that John and Paul’s childhood homes were going up for sale, she bought them and donated them to a non-profit who now maintains them. She also bought other sites and donated tons of money to keep their memory and certain things they loved about the city intact – Paul, has, as well……..the guide said, “people ask all the time ‘what did the Beatles ever do for Liverpool?’ – well, there is evidence to all they have done everywhere you look!” Between the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts founded by Paul and the charitable donations of both Paul and Yoko on John’s behalf………
We drove by and saw all the things mentioned in the song Penny Lane…..this is the shelter in the roundabout
Penny Lane was written by Paul about his time living in Penny Lane —- there was a trolley that he rode just about daily to get from his house to John’s house and from his house to church, school, etc……..the trolley would ring the bell as it got to the Penny Lane stop – hence the lyrics “Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes….” – he remembered hearing the trolley and seeing the station…….at the stop, he saw the roundabout with the shelter – which is now a cafe of some kind, but back then was a place to sit and wait out of the rain. Across the street is the bank mentioned in the song – the banker was made up for the song, but the idea was that he was rich and had a motorcar, so didn’t need to wear his “mac in the pouring ran, very strange” – a “mac” is a waterproof coat! LOL Also on that corner is the barber shop with the photographs of customers with their hair cuts mentioned in the song, as well. The fire station with the “Clean machine” fire trucks is just down the street! We sat at that corner for a bit with the guide pointing out all the places Paul references in the song! It was sooooooo cool!!!
The bank across from the roundabout
The barbershop is down this street
The fire station
A better shot of the intersection – the roundabout, the bank on the right, the barbershop straight ahead
There is a China Town section in Liverpool with the largest Chinese Arch of its kind outside of China
Before I go on, I also wanted to tell you about what we learned about Strawberry Field (no “s” – John added the “s” to make it Strawberry Fields cause he thought it sounded better in the song). Strawberry Field actually isn’t a field and has nothing to do with strawberries – it was an orphanage near John’s home. He loved to play there as a child — he felt connected to the boys because he lost his parents and was living with his aunt Mimi at the time. I believe his father worked on shipping boats and was a very absent parent. His mother fell in love with another man and it wasn’t a very good environment for a young boy, so the aunt called child services reporting an unfit home and he ended up living with her. His mother would visit and on her way to visit one time, she was struck by a car and died. So — anyway — he felt like an orphan and enjoyed playing with the boys there. His aunt didn’t want him to go there because she thought they would be a bad influence. So, he would sneak out and climb the fence to get to the play yard. When his aunt learned of this, she scolded him — he responded with “what are they going to do about it, hang me?” – hence the lyric “nothing to get hung about”! LOL So, anyway — it is a real place – not just a field of strawberries from a psychedelic haze, as some think……a place where John had fond memories as a child!
After the ship’s final “all aboard” time, the port pier did some amazing things to send us off…….I’ve never seen anything like it — lots of times, you get people at the docks waving at the ships as they pull out, but Liverpool went above and beyond by giving us a BIG send off —– they played Beatles songs loudly as they shot confetti out of machines and all the workers were out waving and cheering and there were LOTS of people lined up above the docks waving and singing and cheering……it was awesome!!!
Then, we pulled out of Liverpool Bay out through the River Mersey and out into the ocean…….bye, bye, Liverpool……you made me a VERY happy lady!!! I hope to return someday — I’d love to dive deeper into your wonderful city!!!
This area is where The Beatles Story that I showed parts of in the beginning of this post is located! These used to be shipping warehouses that the city has refurbished and turned into useful buildings and businesses!
A little ways out into the open sea, I was surprised and amazed to see wind turbines……LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of wind turbines —- the UK is very actively working on ways to utilize sustainable energy alternatives…….and it looked awesome!!! They seemed to go on forever…..and, even when it looked like they stopped, more came into view!!! They were EVERYWHERE!!! So beautiful!!!
Well, that’s Liverpool…….and, as amazing as it was, it wasn’t the end……..next up, I’ll write about Dublin, Ireland!!!