Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.
Who: John Holback of Washington.
Where, when, why: Three days in January checking out Beatles-related sites in Liverpool, England.
Highlights and high points: Taking the Magical Mystery Tour bus, which visited Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and the houses that the band members grew up in. At the homes of George Harrison and Ringo Starr, I was struck by the obvious poverty they were raised in. I also visited the Cavern Club, where they played during their early years, and met and sang with Beatles fans from around the world. For non-band sights: the Gothic Liverpool Cathedral, the second-largest Episcopal cathedral in the world (according to a docent), and the bizarrely modern Metropolitan Cathedral. I stayed at the wonderful Aachen Hotel, which cost $30 a night and included a cooked-to-order breakfast each morning.
Cultural connection or disconnect: I left the Cavern Club after midnight and stopped at a kebab shop on my way back to the hotel. Some other late-night patrons heard my American accent and asked me where I was from in the States and why I was in Liverpool. They reacted with feigned fright when I said that I was from Washington and laughed when I added that I was not with the CIA or the NSA — just a Beatles fan. I have experienced the friendliness of the British on many trips, but it was nothing like that of the Liverpudlians, who always wanted to engage in conversation once they learned that I was a visitor in their city.
Biggest laugh or cry: Seeing the house where John Lennon spent most of his childhood, as well as the spot across the road, where a car struck and killed his mother.
How unexpected: The food was great! The pubs were warm and friendly. However, at times, I struggled to decipher the local Scouse accent, as it’s called.
Fondest memento or memory: Among the things that have stayed with me: The stories that the older people told about their experiences with Beatlemania. The woman from my hotel who walked me a block to the registry office where Lennon was first married and where she had been, too. The pride I noticed in a pub mate when he explained how locals still deeply admire Paul McCartney, who has not forgotten the city and makes frequent trips back to work with students. The joy I saw in my American friends’ faces when I handed them their Beatles souvenirs from Liverpool.
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