Thursday, 6 December 2012

Backpacking Europe: England Part 2 Liverpool

posted by Brett

One week removed from quite possibly the greatest concert experience of my life (for sure the greatest here in Edmonton),  I've finally sort of got my head back on straight after having my mind blown at Rexall Place (our hockey arena for those unfamiliar).  This concert was of course performed by Liverpool's favorite (living) son Sir Paul McCartney!!!!!!!!!!  This was the first time he or any of the Beatles have performed in the City of Champions, and my first chance to see any of them in person, and believe you me he did not disappoint!  3 straight hours, no intermissions (minus 2 short encore breaks), hit after hit after hit, and a few newer songs thrown into the mix to keeps things fresh.   Personal highlights from the evening include "Something" played as a tribute to the late George Harrison on a ukulele, as well as "Yesterday" at the start of the second encore.  Also, the 70 or 80 year old man who screamed and cheered and threw his arms up in the air after every song was an amazing sight, and kind of inspirational. To have the passion he showed at that show at his age was nothing short of incredible.

All that being said if the opportunity arises for you to see Macca, do it.  No matter the cost he makes it worth every single penny spent.

And that brings me to the topic of this blog, Sir Paul's hometown Liverpool.  Good luck visiting this city without being reminded that its the home of the Fab Four.  From the moment you land (if you arrive by plane) at John Lennon airport every thing you see is a constant reminder of where The Beatles began.  It's almost overwhelming.  Everything, from pubs to pizza shops, is named after one of them, and if it isn't then it's most likely filled with memorabilia from the band, maybe a replica of Paul's signature bass or a golden Sgt. Pepper's record on the wall.   Saying that, Liverpool is a must see for every Beatles fan out there.  Whether you're a hardcore fan who wants to see every nook and cranny of the town they touched or just a casual fan who just wants to catch a cover band play Hey Jude in the Cavern Club there is something for you.

Speaking of Cavern Club, that is where I spent my saturday night in Liverpool.   The night featured multiple bands playing multiple Beatles hits throughout the night.  It was kinda surreal to think (especially after having a few couple pints)  that I was currently listening to A Hard Days Night in the club in which the song's creators got their chops as musicians and performers.  You'll find an interesting cross section of people in there on any given night, from 60 year old Argentine women to 40 year old Aussies to 22 year old Canadians like myself, all of whom are there due to a love for one band.

My only issue with the club is that it used to be a place amazing bands would go to breakthrough. Not only did the Beatles play there in the early years, but bands like the Stones and Chuck Berry among tons of others have all graced the famous stage, but over the years that stage has turned from a place for up and comers to get discovered to a place for a guy in a funny wig and a suit to play Strawberry Fields.  It would have been just as, if not maybe a little cooler, to see the next big thing to come out of Britain take to the stage that night as it was to hear all my favorite Fab Four songs.  But nevertheless, and to make a long story short, go to Cavern Club if you are in Liverpool.

Boy I hope you are a Beatles fan if you are reading this, I've been going on and on, sorry still full of energy from that show last week.  But what else is there to do in Liverpool??  Well if you're looking to escape Beatlemania adventuring down to Albert's Dock may be an idea.  There's a nice little seaside view if you're looking to spend a relaxing afternoon just hanging around (or curing your hangover from Cavern Club in my case).  And while you're down there you may want to wander into the Merseyside Maritime Museum. At first I wasn't too sure what I thought of that, but there was a cool exhibit about the different creative ways people have tried to smuggle illegal goods into England.  Also, the Slavery Museum is a sobering experience. While I was there an Apartheid exhibit was displayed showing beautifully taken pictures of so many atrocious acts committed simply because of race.

Liverpool also features some interesting architecture and some buildings still around, yet mainly destroyed, kept as a reminder of the wars past including the church pictured below

2-4 days is probably the appropriate time for a backpacker to spend there, although Beatlemaniacs may want to give themselves a bit more time. I was there for 3 and was pretty much ready to move on to my next destination: London!

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