Tour the magical mystery of Liverpool

by Jennifer Cummins
Stripes Europe

Being a lifelong Beatles fan, I was so excited to be able to visit Liverpool — the birthplace of my favorite band — and see the iconic setting that, until that point, I had only read about in books. I knew the history of The Beatles, but to see everything in person was truly a one of a kind experience.

Yellow Submarine

Upon entering the city, we drove by a statue inspired by Yellow Submarine. It was, you guessed it, a submarine based on the cartoon depiction of the song. It was a quirky welcome to a city that otherwise looked unremarkable at first glance. Little did I know that I would see nods to the hometown heroes throughout the city.

Magical Mystery Tour

The first thing we decided to do was take the Magical Mystery Tour. I mean, just from the name alone, you know it’s going to be good, right? We bought our tickets at the Albert Docks and waited excitedly for the bus to show up. It did not disappoint. Before we even departed, the entire bus was belting out Beatles songs to a recording blasting through the bus. Once our tour guide arrived, we set out to see all of the sights, listening to him reel off Beatles history and trivia.

We drove by the childhood homes of each of the Beatles — including the original drummer, Pete Best — which ranged from very humble (George) to quite well off (Paul) while listening to our guide talk about their upbringing. Their former schools and colleges were also pointed out. Once the tour guide finished setting up the backstory, we got to the part everyone was waiting for: the band’s history. We saw where John and Paul first met and then saw what some very familiar names looked like: Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields.

Cavern Club

The tour ended at the famous Cavern Club, where The Beatles got their start and eventually became the club’s signature act. One of the most iconic early Beatles photographs was a snap shot of them playing on the front stage at the Cavern Club. The outside of the club has the name of every famous singer and band that has graced their stage, and it’s an impressive sight. There has been a wide range of people, including famous jazz musicians to rock legends. It was surreal to have a pint at the Cavern Club and watch a performance on one of the most famous stages in popular music.

Across the street from the Cavern Club was the Cavern Pub (only slightly confusing), where you can find displays full of rock memorabilia and yet another place to watch up and coming musicians from Liverpool’s legendary live music scene. Both venues have daily live music.

Albert Docks

A short walk from the Cavern Club (and Pub) is the Albert Docks, where the Magical Mystery Tour begins. Also at the docks is The Beatles Story, a museum dedicated to the band. It goes from the early band’s formation, to it’s rise in popularity, and then splits off into sections dedicated to each individual Beatle’s solo ventures once the band split up. It was so cool to hear behind the scenes outtakes from recording sessions and snippets of live concerts, and, towards the end, to see John Lennon’s famous white piano on which he wrote “Imagine.”

Even though I went to Liverpool mostly to see everything made famous by The Beatles, I also enjoyed seeing a few other sites along the way. I had no idea that Liverpool was such a huge cultural hub! It has the most museums and galleries in the U.K. (outside of London), among other attractions.

The Albert Docks was a gorgeous collection of old buildings transformed into museums, bars and restaurants. We visited the Tate Liverpool before having dinner in a contemporary restaurant featuring a rustic cave-like section in its dining area and huge windows lining the wall to look out onto the water while you ate.

Liverpool Cathedral

Before leaving the city, we decided to check out Liverpool Cathedral. I’m not usually a fan of more modern cathedrals, but this one is truly impressive. It’s the largest cathedral in the UK, the fifth largest in the world, and it has the largest pipe organ in the U.K. Upon entering the building, the sheer magnitude of the building is so impressive and, as long as it’s not too windy, you are able to go to the roof of the cathedral and view the city from above. Definitely worth the trek to see.

My only regret from the trip was not staying in the city for longer to listen to a few more performances, see a few more museums, talk to a few more friendly Liverpudlians, and soak in Liverpool’s unique culture. It’s truly a one of a kind city, and I look forward to going back again soon. 

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