Hey you there, yes I’m talking to you.* Grab a brewski (or two) because it’s game time, “Around the world in 80 pints: Liverpool addition.” The rules are simple, every time a Beatles song is mentioned take a drink!
*Must be of legal age in country of residency to play*
After Manchester I had a, Ticket to Ride, and I decided to Carry that Weight, of Bernice to Liverpool. If you are wondering how long the travel time is from Manchester, It Won’t be Long, just about an hour by train. Still in the north and it Don’t Bother Me! In fact I rather like northern England because like Manchester, if you are, Fixing a Hole, that’s seemed to develop in your wallet, Liverpool is a very affordable city. Prices for food, drinks, entertainment, and transportation are much cheaper than in London or Brighton.
First impressions, larger than Manchester definitely a bit more hustle and bustle on the main streets. After spying many a bar’s brick wall painted to display the nectar of the barley & hops Gods (Guinness) it seems Liverpool has a heavy Irish influence.
Day one, stop one and where did, Lovely Rita, stop first? None other than a museum of course. This time it was the Merseyside Maritime and Slavery Museum. Being a port city, Liverpool has played a pivotal role in world history long before the Fab Four made it a permanent destination on the pop culture map. In fact Liverpool was the ripe ole age of 753 before the Beatles formed.
To those playing, I know I’ve been taking a lot of cheap shots on your liver, call me Mean Mr. Mustard, if you will but we’re going to take a time out while I talk about some heavier matters.
Free of entry, the Merseyside museum will navigate you along the turbulent tideline of England’s naval involvement in both world wars, as well as Liverpool’s role in the story of the Titanic. For me, visiting this museum came with a wave of emotions because I was brought face to face with my foundational history education. In the 11th grade I took AP US History taught by the wonderful, Mrs. Hunter. It was her zest for teaching history that kicked off my love for the learning about the past. It was in her class I first learned about the sinking of the Lusitania, a British passenger ship sunk by German u-boats on 7 May 1915. Taking nearly 1,200 innocent lives, this event brought England into WWI and sparked US anti-war sentiment. The Merseyside museum had many items on display that were recovered from this tragic disaster including letters between loved ones, passenger log books, as well as baby shoes and a life jacket.
Learning history is like reading a book. Isolated events are the stories and when strung together they create chapters. For me, rather than a dull book you’d read to put yourself to sleep, history is a guidebook that explains why the world is the ways it is today, foreign relations, politics, etc. However, I admit it is easy to learn history with a bit of a disconnect. With events such as the Lusitania, although we know they were real people who lived through these non-fictional events, it can be hard to truly conceptualize what it would have been like to go through such a tragedy. This is why museums are crucial to keeping history alive, because seeing these dearly personal items recovered from the Lusitania gave this event a jolting sense of reality. Side note, at the museum I learned Liverpool had long been a popular destination for Irish migrants but it was during the Irish potato famine of the 1840’s that the city saw the greatest influx of Irish migrants. By 1951 the Irish made up approximately 25% of Liverpool’s population. (Score one for first impressions, you can’t judge a book by its cover but I guess you can judge a city by its beer.)
Level three of the museum is dedicated to the history of, and on going plight of slavery. A big focus is the Atlantic slave. Here are some English streets named after various slave traders. Recognize any of them?
Yes that Penny Lane is one in the same as the Penny Lane the Beatles walk us down in their 1967 hit. This was a heavy fact for me to learn. There is no denying much of history is tumultuous and a rather bitter pill to swallow when it comes to leaning about the grave injustices committed against whole groups of people.
Much like a tightrope, today we walk a fine line in how we treat these lingering notes left from long ago. I took a Beatles tour during which our guide told us this fact about Penny Lane. He also mentioned, in the early 2000’s a politician running for local office wanted to change the name of the street because he felt it promoted slavery. The mayor at the time said no because first, to do so would be denying history, and second, the street is now known for a much different reason. Instead of changing the name the city was going to make an effort of making this fact about Penny Lane known. I find myself agreeing that to completely sanitize every aspect of today’s world that connects us to dark and dirty portions of history would almost be to deny they ever happened. There is no truer cliché than, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is important (and possible) to recognize and remember without celebrating. If you ask me Penny Lane is an incredible example of the strides society has made in the last few hundred years. A street once named after a slave trader is now known globally as a hometown street for a band that promoted the power of peace & equality, and spread the message of universal love.
However, we must remember that even in 2016 freedom does not ring everywhere. The museum also highlights the on going system of slavery found widespread in India today. It is estimated that 10-15 million people are in bonded labor in India today.
If you want read more on the subject and what you can do to help: http://www.antislavery.org/english/slavery_today/bonded_labour/
Okay 80 pints back on. The rest of the day was spent at the Museum of Liverpool (another freebie, I was beginning to feel like it was my Birthday.) The museum goes into detail about the cities vast history. Alberts Dock and Pier Head is where you will find these wonderful museums, The Liverpool Tate art gallery, many a Day Tripper, a slightly larger than life Beatles statue, and some some incredible views.
I returned to my hostel and quickly found myself in conversation with a fellow ‘Merican staying in my room. We, along with another roomie, decided to join the Friday night pub crawl our hostel hosted. For just 10 pounds you will get properly pissed (pissed = drunk.) Our guide (who I renamed papa duck) led our flock to four different watering holes and plenty of fun. It is fairly common to find a hostel that leads a weekend pub crawl. To all solo travelers who enjoy activities most commonly associated with solo cups, I highly recommend attending one. It is a great way to experience nightlife without worry of how to, Get Back, home and a tremendous way to meet new friends. (The free entry and shots doesn’t hurt either.) Night two, a few of the faces in my room changed, but they were replaced with fellow fun-loving travelers. You know what they say, birds of a feather flock together, thus I found myself, yet again, attending the hostels pub crawl. Call it the Blue Jay Way, or a good way to spend, A Hard Day’s Night after sightseeing, but either way with every passing day I’m on the road, It’s Getting Better.
In my ever rumbling appetite for all things rock history, visiting Liverpool was a like devouring a Savory Truffle. Day two and it was back to Alberts dock to purchase a ticket for the Magical Mystery Tour. (To clear up any possible confusion this was the actual name of the tour but take a drink anyway.) This is quite the popular tour so I suggest arranging a ticket as soon as you get to town. When I went they did not have any tours available until the next morning, but not to worry it was still a, Good Day Sunshine. I found my way down to Mathew street aka rock music Mecca. The first site I spied was the wall… no not the one Roger Waters sings about, rather The Cavern Wall of Fame. Composed of 1,801 bricks, each one has the name of a different influential artist that played at the original Cavern Club from 1957 to 1973 (a few 90’s bands also managed to find their way on the wall.) Some highlights include; The Rolling Stones, Queen, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, The Who, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and of course The Beatles.
The Cavern Club is the venue where the Beatles got their start and began a rock, Revolution, if you will. Just 2 pound 50 to enter if you go after 12pm, my excitement began to rise with every step I took down the descending spiral stairs case. Good thing the club is not too far underground or else I might have spun out of control with my dizzying excitement. The club is not much more than a brick enclosed tube lined with some tables. Honestly it looks like more of a bomb shelter than an infamous music venue, but this is fitting as I was blown away from the realization that I was in the very club where so many legendary artists once played. Talk about, A Day in the Life, I could have been, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds because I was simply walking on air. With a full bar and live music daily, this is a must stop for any rock fan to, Come Together, with some kindred souls.
You, Can’t Buy Me Love, but if someone was to buy me my ticket for the Magical Mystery Tour it would have been pretty darn close. I had to give the company I reservation name, they probably thought I was trying to be cute when I said Rita, but I’ll take cute over raging zealot any day. I boarded the bus and quickly realized it was me and a bunch of people who were born closer to the time the microwave was invented rather than New Wave.
Not a worry! I’m used to being in situations where I significantly bring the average age down. (If I had a dollar for every time I was told I’m old soul I’d probably have the same amount of money it took to produce Rubber Soul.) I was slightly aPAULed there was no one else from my generation on the bus, but it didn’t matter I was still singing, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da. The two hour long tour will take you to Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, the childhood home of each Beatle, and St. Peter’s Church. This was where Paul and John first met, and the adjoining cemetery is where Elenor Rigby is buried. The bus makes a few stops to allow for photo ops. Roll Over Beethoven, there is a new conductor in town! Along the ride our guide gave many fascinating Beatles facts, and I’ll give you one wild guess as to what music was pumping out of the buses speakers. Ask me in a year what it felt like to listen to Penny Lane as we rolled down Penny Lane with our guide pointing out the fire station, barber shop, and all the other original sites that still remain, and just maybe I’ll be put that experience into words.Just like that I felt like I was saying, Hello, Goodbye, to Liverpool, buts it’s Across the Universe, I desire to see, so off I go… SO just where is this future, Paperback Writer, going next? Tomorrow Never Knows, but if you find yourself thinking, “that blonde vagabond I’ve Got to Get You into My Life,” then follow my blog! You’ll be emailed every time I post, so without having to beg or, Please Mister Postman, you’ll never miss a beat!
TVB Travel Tips
1. To avoid crowds, visit museums and other popular attractions at lunch time because well most people are elsewhere eating lunch.
2. It can be a few pounds/dollars/ whatnot cheaper to book a hostel direct through their website, or it can come with perks such as free breakfast. I like to use Hostelworld.com to search for hostels and read the reviews, then if possible book direct through the individual hostels website.