A Weekend In Liverpool (Day 2)

6 November 2014


After an interesting first day we wake up at 9am, get dressed, and head down for breakfast. 


The Ibis does a hot brekky between 6am and 10am, and a continental breakfast until midday. 


The buffet’s in the bar area where we sat last night. I look under the silver lids to find sausages, bacon, scramble eggs, and most incredibly HASH BROWNS. Anyone that knows me knows that I love a good hash brown. At uni last year I had a constant supply in the freezer ready for hungover consumption. This morning I manage to scoff about three, as well as a croissant or two. 


The breakfast is £7.95 per person but will DEFINITELY fill you up for the day (especially with all the hash browns). Although, you probably want to get up for the hot stuff to make it worth it. The early bird gets the worm, as they say.

After breakfast we check out, and the staff put our suitcases in the luggage room for us. The night before we witnessed one of the team with braces kindly helping out a little boy who’s rubber bands had snapped on his. So nice! The scouse accents are great, too! Obviously. Thankfully I manage to stop myself from bringing out my awful rendition of “lewk a’ the bewk” and all that. I’m NOT gifted when it comes to accents, no matter what I like to tell myself. 


After stowing our stuff away we head over the road – literally minutes – to the Beatles Story. It’s 10:30am on a Saturday morning and already jampacked! A multitude of people from different countries stand in line to get a glimpse into the past of their idols. What I find the weirdest thing, and what’s easy to forget, is that the Beatles broke up in 1970. 1970! That’s almost 45 years ago. And yet, they’re as resonant in modern society as ever. They're here, there, and everywhere.

 Why do YOU reckon that is?

It's obviously to do with each of their personas, their lyrical craftsmanship and the immense cultural reproduction of their melodies – how many other artists over the years have covered their songs? About a billion. Recently I watched a concert on ITV marking the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s first performance on the Ed Sullivan show – the moment they landed in America. They instilled a frenzy upon New York. Long before Bieber Fever, there was Beatlemania.

Eventually we reach the front of the queue and are given our headphones, which come in lots of different languages. We pop them on and start at the beginning. 


First up, we hear about their childhoods, pressing numbers on the accompanying handheld remotes which correspond with the digits besides different displays. We hear from friends, and family, Brain Epstein – their manager, and a whole range of Liverpool natives.





Then it’s on to a replica of the Hamburg club, where they first played overseas. We career through all aspects of their meteoric rise to fame. We found how they got their look; we find out about their films, their music, their other projects, and their international acclaim. Even the Soviet Union had a soft spot for the Beatles.






We move through their different identities and different albums. From A Hard Day's Night to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to Abbey Road, John, Paul, George, and Ringo transition from clean-cut bowlcuts to psychedelic heroes.













 In one of the rooms in the museum there's a
 giant yellow submarine, and different subverted cartoonish images. It all feels pretty trippy. The Penny Lane road sign and the entrance to Strawberry Field, a children's home near John Lennon's childhood residence, prove the Beatles' all-time allegiance to their city and how they embedded it within their songscape. 




Then we come out the other side to find the formation of quasi-successful Apple Records and the infamous rooftop performance in New York City which came to spell the end of their magical mystery ride. We say goodbye to our headphones and hello to the solo ventures of our Revolution-ary singers. 

We’ve got George who becomes hooked on Indian culture and spiritualism, Ringo who goes on to gift us with many albums, humanitarian Paul who finds success with Wings and his one-man exploits, and John who graces us – along with so much beauty – with the anthem of peace, Imagine. One of the final stops in the museum takes us to the white room with the white piano that features in the music video. The poignant lyrics stand before us.







This song reflects even more why the Beatles affected society the way they did. They sang through the 60's, a time of great upheaval, and proved that the personal CAN be political.

At the end there are lots of interactive things for kids and a cafĂ©. 





We only get to spend a couple of hours looking around this museum but with your ticket you can return as much as you like 48 hours after purchase. You can also use it to get into the Beatles Story, Pier Head, which holds other exhibitions, including The British Invasion: How 1960s beat groups conquered America.


We've absolutely loved our time looking around, from the original photos of the Quarrymen to the replica of the Cavern. 



Speaking of the Cavern, we decide it’s time to head back to this live music mecca to get more of a glimpse into the heart of Liverpool. 






Coming out of the docks, we head two minutes up the road through Liverpool One. This shopping centre is new and part of a modern breed of half inside/ half outside consumer palaces. 



There are restaurants, bars, big stores – everything you could possibly need. It reminds me of the Trinity centre in Leeds and it feels like this is a really good thing for Liverpool. It's like a shopping Garden of Eden, especially when we walk down the aptly named Paradise Street.


Suddenly, coming out the other side, we’re in the centre of the bustling city. I can hear buskers singing Beatles songs, of course, but with a kind of McFly vibe. Pop-heavy renditions for the children of today who enjoy jumpy, catchy beats and perky, friendly YouTubers. It seems wherever you go in Liverpool, you can hear the gospel of the Beatles. The musically Holy quartet are the saints of the place. 





We find our way back to the Cavern, this time with our dear friend Sofia, who currently lives in Wales and has joined us on our cultural stroll. The Cavern looks a little less dark and dingy in the light of day but as usual there’s a mob of people outside taking pictures. 


Including me!




We head into the mouth of the cave and round and round the spiral staircase. The warmth of the underbelly lashes up at us as if we’re descending on the helter skelter into the fiery pits of Hell. But no! This is more like Heaven. The British musical landmark that lies unbeaten. 




On the walls are photos of famous singers and other Cavern crusaders who have spent evenings in this cavernous space. We elbow through the crowds and get ourselves a drink. IT’S SO WARM DOWN HERE. Tres sweaty. On stage, a cheeky chappy is singing covers of classics. His repertoire, of course, is made predominantly up of Beatles songs. You get the feeling this guy sings these a lot! IPhones and iPads fly up in the air as people seem to do gymnastics in order to get a video of that dude in this setting. He must feel like quite the celebrity. I’m sure my voice can probably be heard in the footage singing disgustingly loudly and VERY out of key. 


This guy ends on ‘Hey Jude’ and with a Na Na Na Na Na Na Na it feels like we’re reaching 3am and it’s time to leave. Time to waddle home drunkenly, arms around each other, belting out the chorus, fresh from our evening of musical euphoria. But, of course, it’s only 2pm. We emerge out of the Cavern with squinting eyes. Here Comes the Sun, little darling. It’s shining and Liverpool gleams. We leave Mathew Street and maraud further into the depths of scouse-land. 


After all our gallivanting around (and listening to these guys above! They were great) we're peckish again... I've got a stomach like a black hole. We find ourselves on Bold Street, which is an area I've heard so much about. It's part of the Rope Walks segment of the city which found rejuvenation through Capital of Culture status. At the top of the road is Church of St Luke, which was bombed during the Blitz and remains roofless. 








There are so many cool looking shops and places to get caffeinated on this street. I've been recommended Bold Street Coffee and NoLIta Cantina as great places to eat/drink but we decide to head to Luche Libre, opposite FACT - the Foundation for Arts and Creative Technology - a cinema and art gallery where they also have a lovely cafe. 



We're in the mood for Mexican. Luche Libre's pretty unassuming from the outside but inside the decoration's very Day of the Dead, bright colours and bright food. They give us red cups to drink out of which makes it feel like we're in the middle of a frat house meets South American bonanza. 









I got fish tacos! 



Next time, if I'm feeling brave, I'll order the scouse tacos... For those that don't know, scouse is a kind of stew! It predominantly harks back to the old days of the docks. The scouse accent itself comes from the medley of nationalities that flooded into the area from the ships. If you've ever read Wuthering Heights, Heathcliffe - the dark gypsy soul - is meant to have been picked up near the Mersey riverside, with his roots uncertain.

Interesting, huh? So much history!

After our lunch we say goodbye to Sofia. I bid her all my loving as she takes out her ticket to ride and heads back to Wales. Naomi and I, deciding we could do with a cup of tea to break out of the food coma, jet down the road to the Bluecoat





Sadly, we don't have time to peek inside, but, despite the chill, the courtyard is a beautiful place to sit. We reflect on our 24 hours in Liverpool and lament that we don't have longer to look around. There is just so much to do here. The creative and cultural communities are absolutely thriving, and the city definitely feels like it's finding its feet after years of being pigeon-holed as... frankly, a bit of a shithole. 

The Ibis Liverpool  is honestly a great place to stay on a budget that's in the middle of EVERYTHING. Along with this one, there's the Ibis Styles hotel on Dale Street that's Beatles-themed if you fancy something a bit different. 

I can't wait to come back again and see more of what it has to offer.
I've definitely come down with a severe case of Beatlemania. 

Because we didn't get to fit everything in, here are some other things you should go see/ check out if you make the trip:

Beatles
Penny Lane
Strawberry Field
The Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles' Childhood Homes - National Trust Tour 
The Casbah Coffee Club (where it all began)
The Liverpool School of Art & Design (where Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe attended)
The Empress

Cultural 
Creative Tourist's Guide to Liverpool 
SevenStreets
Radio City Tower
Royal Liver Building
Homotopia
Learn about the Titanic at the Merseyside Maritime Museum

Food/Drink
Baltic Bakehouse
Almost Famous
Moose Coffee
Restaurants and bars on the Albert Dock

There are SO so many more places to visit. Please comment and let me know if you have any recommendations!



Bye for now Liverpool! It won't be long (yeah yeah yeah) until I'm back again

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