A Day in the Life in Liverpool

Growing up, I really wasn't much of a reader. The irony of which is not lost on me, given the amount of hours I've poured into this website where reading is, you know, a fairly integral part. Oh sure, I read the required summer books for school - most of them, anyway - and The Great Gatsby remains my favorite work of fiction by authors not named Rowling or Brown.

So how it was that the 17 year old me came away with a 500 page book on The Beatles from the city's public library is a bit of a mystery. Maybe I was trying to impress a girl. It's definitely the kind of strategy that would have made sense to the two-time geography-bee-winning captain of the golf team. But alas, exactly how I came to temporarily possess - and finish - the book A Day in the Life has been lost in the cobwebs of my brain. What hasn't been lost, however, is the treasure trove of useless information I learned about The Beatles, which I like to whip out at parties from time to time. 

For example...

The song A Day in the Life itself was banned in Britain because of the line "I'd love to turn you on." It also illustrates the juxtaposition between Lennon and McCartney better than any other song in their collaboration. There's John's melodramatic, somewhat trippy, rendering of stories he literally pulled from the local newspaper versus Paul's happy-go-lucky account of a poor chap who's just struggling to get to work on time. And then there's the instrumental, which somehow manages to sound like everything and nothing at the same time. 

Beyond the abundance of cocktail party factoids, the love for The Beatles which sprang from the pages of A Day in the Life has taken me to some great places. From Paul McCartney in the pouring rain at Atlanta's Piedmont Park, to traipsing across Central Park after a blizzard to visit Strawberry Fields, to the masterwork of Cirque du Soleil and Sir George Martin - the band's longtime producer - in Las Vegas, The Beatles have figured prominently in some of my fondest travel memories.

After my week-long introduction to Cambridge, our original plan was to head north to Scotland for a visit to Edinburgh and St. Andrews. But almost from the start, something didn't feel quite right. Recalling the geography from my read-maps-for-fun days, I knew that the band's hometown of Liverpool was only a slight detour off the path north. The solution to this dilemma was pretty clear: we shaved a night off both Edinburgh and St. Andrews and added Liverpool to the mix.

All I really knew about Liverpool to that point - other than its location on a map - was that it was home to both the world's greatest band and the world's lousiest football team. My fellow golfers may question the rationale of dropping a night in St. Andrews, but for yours truly, this was an absolute no-brainer. The Home of Golf and The Home of The Beatles in the same trip? Sign me up for that..Every. Single. Time.
The clubhouse at Hoylake

Another advantage of heading to Liverpool was it gave me a good excuse to pop out to Hoylake and the Royal Liverpool Golf Club. It was here that Bobby Jones took home the Claret Jug in his Grand Slam year, and fans of Tiger Woods will remember Hoylake as the course where the Big Cat won The Open playing with only his 2-iron. OK, a slight exaggeration, but only slight. That 2-iron is proudly displayed inside the Royal Liverpool clubhouse, as well as enough golf memorabilia to fill a museum. If you're a golfer and find yourself in Liverpool - even if traveling without clubs, like yours truly - take the 20 minute train ride to Hoylake... You'll be glad you did.

While I was marveling at Walter Hagen's mashie niblick, MJ was back in Liverpool touring the city aboard its hop-on hop-off bus. I've always held a certain level of disdain for these rolling tourist delivery systems, but I once shared a similar view of roasted brussel sprouts. Now I devour those by the bowlful. So I kept the eyerolls to a minimum and soon realized there was an unexpected advantage of her journey on the Big Red Machine... She received a general overview of the city, and now knew exactly what we should see that afternoon.
Red Rocks Beach at Hoylake looking to Wales

We started by trekking to the Church of St. Luke, also known as the "Bombed Out Church." Built in the early 1800's, the church was burned during the Liverpool Blitz in 1941, leaving only the exterior shell behind. It stands as a unique, if spooky, memorial to those lost during the war.

Next it was on to Liverpool's Chinatown...

Followed by a flying visit to the city's whopper of a cathedral, which naturally was closed for a private ceremony.

Next it was on to the shores of the River Mersey and Liverpool's bustling waterfront. There we stopped in for a drink at the former headquarters of White Star Line, the operator of the ship where Jack & Rose fell tragically in love. The old world charm of the building, paired with the view from the aptly named rooftop bar - Carpathia - made for an hour or so well spent.

At last, it was time to begin the Magical Mystery Tour of sorts which brought us to Liverpool in the first place. First stop was just a short stroll away on the Albert Docks: The Beatles Story. Whether you're an uber-fan chocked full of useless factoids, or just someone that thinks Love Me Do is a catchy tune, this interactive museum is worth every penny.

I say 'interactive' because every entry comes with an audio guide, which provided a ton of great info on each exhibit without the annoying side-effect of having to read.

By now it was time for something sweet and the afternoon Costa. That just doesn't roll off the tongue as well as "afternoon Starbucks," but nevertheless... For the sweet portion, we happened across a market near The Beatles Story, where I encountered a double chocolate brownie that would have given Market Cake a run for its money.

Although there are loads of Beatles related sites to see in Liverpool, one of the most popular also happens to be the newest. In 2015, the city debuted a statue of the four lads strolling thru their hometown, and the spot has quickly become selfie central. It's reminiscent of a famous photo of the group walking down the street, though I suppose with these guys one has to be more specific than that.

If Liverpool is considered the St. Andrews of all things Beatles, then the Cavern Club would be the Old Course. Early in their career, The Cavern Club hosted The Beatles onstage nearly 300 times, as well as a number of historically insignificant acts like The Rolling Stones, The Who, Queen, Oasis, and Sir Elton John. It also happened to be the one and only entry on our itinerary in Liverpool. 

Even though this isn't technically the original Cavern Club (that one was filled in to build a subway line) the journey underground feels as though you've stepped back into another era. From the sound of Strawberry Fields coming from the stage, to the names of the acts that performed here on the famous wall behind it, the Cavern is a brick and mortar tribute to days gone by. Although that may sound like the Cavern is living on borrowed time, the crowd told a different story...

While the Ed-Sheeran-hating guy onstage belted out Glass Onion, I took a survey across the club and pegged the average age of our fellow Cavern-goers at roughly 58. Sure there were a few Millenials milling about, but they were far outnumbered by folks who'd been drawing Social Security for a decade or more. Across all generations, the place was packed with people drinking, singing, dancing, and just generally having the night of their life. As it turns out, nostalgia is a pretty good business.

Our one night at the Cavern Club turned into two, but there would not be a third as we had a Ticket To Ride the next morning. As we emerged from the beneath the streets of Liverpool one last time, I couldn't help but wonder... How was it that a rock & roll band from Britain, which broke up a decade before I was born, had managed to play a role in so many of my fondest travel memories? Even removed from the numerous pints and excessive electronic noise, I'm still not sure I know the answer. What was clear, however, was that our time in Liverpool had definitely made the grade.

Enjoy Your Stay

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