07/22/13
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Indian Lady

Ivan and I met up with Neal at The Draft House for lunch.  Lil Dave was out with his friend Robert doing a banana boat tour on the River Thames.  Neal recommended a Yolk burger.  I decided to go for it and eat some meat.  Ivan got a Beirut burger.

The restaurant had cool Ghostbusters wallpaper in the staircase headed to the bathroom.

Ghostbusters wallpaper at The Draft House

Neal was disappointed that the yolk burger wasn’t right – it should have a sunny side up egg, so when you eat it the yolk goes all over the burger.  The burger was good, but the yolk wasn’t runny at all.

We said bye to Neal and went shopping.

Tried for the lottery for the Book of Mormon, but we didn’t end up winning a chance to buy tickets.

Ivan bought tickets for the play The Ladykillers.

Dinner was at Masala Zone.  Ivan and I each got a thali that comes with lots of tasty Indian food.

Thali at Masala Zone

It was time to see some theatre.

The Ladykillers was a funny play about a group of men posing as amateur musicians who rent a room with the sweet old lady Mrs. Wilberforce.

The Ladykillers poster

They make a plan to involve her in the heist job. It was a good play.

We walked to the bus stop.  The Royal Baby was born, so we saw the London Eye all lit up in red. white and blue.

The London Eye lit up in red, white and blue

06/27/13
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Beatles Day

I woke up at 10 am on June 27, 2013.  Ivan and Lil Dave were already awake.  We used the internet in the room.  I worked on the blog.

It was a gloomy overcast day with some rain.

Ivan and I walked to the store to pick up our food for lunch.  We ate our lunch in the bar.

At 12:30 pm, we were picked up by a taxi for The Beatles Fab Four Taxi Tour.  Our guide was a man named Alan.

It was raining out which was a bit depressing since pictures usually don’t look good when it’s rainy and overcast. 

Alan drove us to many places around Liverpool that related to The Beatles.  Our first stop was the registry office where John Lennon and Cynthia Powell got married.  Brian Epstein kept it a secret from the press since he thought it would affect the Beatles popularity.

John Lennon sign

We stopped by where the hospital where John Lennon was born which is now a student residence hall.

We made an unofficial stop to take a picture with a Beatles themed Lamb Banana.

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Brian Epstein was secretly gay since it was illegal to be gay during those times.  Brian let John and Cynthia stay at his flat for their honeymoon.  They actually stayed for four months.  At this apartment, John wrote Do You Wanna Know a Secret? which referred to his secret marriage and about Brian being gay.

Another stop was the The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) school where John Lennon attended art school.  Paul McCartney contributed money to renovate this school.  We took pictures of the guitar cases which had the names of The Beatles on it including Stu Sutcliffe.

Me & Ivan in front of the cases

Alan told us about the different places and buildings that we passed.  It’s always great to learn about a city to get a feel about the place.

A great stop was Penny Lane. 

Us at Penny Lane

Alan told us that some of the businesses are red herrings to try to draw the tourists in when their business wasn’t actually written about in the song.  We passed by the fish shop that referred to “four fish and finger pie”.  Ivan and I got out with Alan and went inside Penny Lane Barber Shop.  It was called Bioletti’s back when The Beatles got their haircuts there.  We got to sit in a chair and take a picture with a Penny Lane sign. 

Me & Penny Lane

Very strange.

We stopped at Paul, John, George and Ringo’s childhood homes. 

Another cool stop was at Strawberry Fields. 

Ivan and I at Strawberry Fields

An orphanage was located at Strawberry Fields.  John Lennon would go here and hang out with the kids since he lived nearby at his Aunt Mimi’s house.  The kids told the owners of the orphanage that they were sad when John left and they wanted to go home with him.  So, two tough guys went to talk to Aunt Mimi saying that John wasn’t welcome back.  Aunt Mimi was really mean and told John Lennon that he couldn’t go or he would be hung.  Wow, that’s harsh!  That’s where the lyric “there’s nothing to get hung about” came from. 

We stopped at George Harrison’s childhood house.  He would get tons of fan mail delivered to his house.  Girls would come and hop in the garden and steal George’s dad’s underwear and socks thinking it was actually George’s.  George eventually bought his parent’s a new house to avoid being bothered by the fans.

Our final stop had us stopping at Eleanor Rigby’s grave. 

Eleanor Rigby gravestone

We also saw a grave with a Tommy McKenzie and also listed Martha.  Father McKenzie is used in the song Eleanor Rigby.  Martha is used in the song Martha My Dear.  The Beatles seemed to borrow from things they saw or events from their lives. 

We walked across the road to where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. 

Paul McCartney & John Lennon first meeting spot

I took a picture of the sign and then we went inside the taxi since it was raining.

Alan told us about the meeting.  Ivan Vaughn who was a part-time member of John Lennon’s band The Quarrymen thought that Paul should meet John since he was a good guitarist. 

They met during a festival where The Quarrymen were performing.  Paul and John were informally introduced.  John said that I heard you can play, Why don’t you play something for us.  Paul borrowed John’s guitar.  He said it wasn’t in tune since John was playing it as a banjo for the skiffle band.  Paul played the guitar upside down since he was left handed.  He put it in tune and then played two songs.  Everybody was blown away by what they heard.  They asked him to join The Quarrymen.  Paul was a bit shy and said he had to go help with his dad’s surprise party which was actually the truth.   Alan believes that this awesome moment changed music.. since it was the start of a beautiful friendship that went on to make wonderful music.  But, even if this meeting didn’t happen.. it might have happened another way.

It was great to hear about their first meeting.  I really have no clue how The Beatles were started after that.  I know I can Google it and read all about it.  I just felt like I was left hanging.  Not really a complaint.. just like how you feel at a book that leaves you hanging on purpose, just so that you tune in to the next book.

Alan drove us around Liverpool for 3 hours.  He was very passionate and knowledgeable about The Beatles and his city of Liverpool.  We could definitely listen to more of Alan’s Beatles stories.  It was all very interesting.  I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to see where I was headed to next on a tour. 

The Beatles Fab Four Taxi Tour is a definite MUST for any Beatles fans.  It’s great to see the sights of Liverpool relating to The Beatles and to learn more about the Beatles lives and their song lyrics.

Ivan and I walked to The Albert Dock to find a place for dinner.  We walked inside Gusto and it was really busy.  We didn’t think it would be since it was so quiet outside.  The wait was 30 minutes – Ivan put his name down for the waiting list.

We walked further down the row of restaurants to see if there was a better restaurant.  We found the Indian restaurant Spice Lounge.  Ivan thought we should go since he was already hungry.  There was a 5-10 minute wait and it turned out to be only a five minute wait.

Rapti Salmon at Spice Lounge

Ivan and I shared Rapti Salmon and Murgh Tikka Karara (Chicken Tikka) for our starters.  The chicken was tough, but still tasted good.  The salmon was delectable.

Our main courses were Prawn Gulnaar and Tarka Dal with rice and a roti.  It was another wonderful Indian meal.

We got a cab to The Cavern Club since it was showering out and we were running late.

John Lennon and Ivan are just chillin'

It was really crowded already and it was 9:30 pm with the show scheduled to start at 10 pm.

The Cavern Club is in the basement with lots of bricks everywhere.  This is the location where The Beatles played early in their career.  It’s not the same exact club since they had to re-build it because of construction work.

Ivan managed to find a seat and then I found one that was free.  I went to the loo and came back and people were standing right in front of us.  They didn’t even care that they were blocking our view.  Nobody wants a view of heads and shoulders when all they really want is to see the band on the stage.  Ivan kept moving my chair forward thinking they would move over.  But, not only were they rude, they were stupid as well. 

The Beatles tribute band came on.  It was four guys who were wearing bowl cut wigs and wore black turtleneck shirts, black jeans and black boots. 

It was really warm down in The Cavern Club.   Ivan and I got strawberry lime ciders which helped cool us down a bit.

I ended up standing in front of the rude people.  There was a woman named Jackie who has muscular dystrophy and she danced crazily right in the front of the band. 

The music was really good.  The guy who played Paul wasn’t the best singer, he couldn’t hit the high notes. 

The Beatles tribute band

The Beatles band played Help!, Please, Please Me, If I Fell, No Reply, Can’t Buy Me Love, Yellow Submarine, Eight Days a Week, Norwegian Wood, Do You Wanna Know a Secret? and more in two sets. 

We were thinking about staying for the hippie songs that they promised for the third set.  But, it was too warm down there for us to stay.

06/26/13
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Beach City

On June 26, 2013, Ivan and I woke up at 8:45 am.  We went downstairs for the free breakfast.

Ivan and I each had cereal, poached eggs and baked beans.  Lil Dave had bananas on toast.

Packed everything up and checked out. 

Ivan drove us to the amusement park Pleasure Beach.  Ivan said it’s the #1 attraction in England.

Lil Dave went off to Nickelodeon Land to go play and ride a few rides.

Some rides we passed on since the rollercoaster looked kind of tame.  Ivan is a big fan of rollercoasters.  I’m glad that the lines weren’t very long since it was a pretty quiet day at the park.

View of Pleasure Beach from The Big One

We went on Infusion, Wallace & Gromit Thrill-O-Matic, The Big One, Grand National and Wild Mouse.  We waited in line for Valhalla, but the ride had technical problems and wouldn’t be up for awhile. 

I was happy that I got to take a picture with Spongebob!

Spongebob and me

Ivan and I thought it was really weird that the park didn’t have any signs directing you to other rides.  We only saw one set of toilets which was called Loos.

It’s a fun place, but the rides don’t compare to Six Flags in California.  America has much better rollercoaster rides compared to England.

At 1 pm, Ivan drove us to Yorkshire Fisheries for lunch.  Ivan and I each got the King cod this time which is the bigger fish portion.  Ivan got fries with his that we planned on sharing.  Lil Dave got some fries to have with his banana sandwich. 

Ivan's ready to eat lots of fish!

The fish was once again wonderful.  Ivan decided to get mushy peas which is exactly what it sounds like.. peas all mushed up.  We dipped our fries in the tasty mushy peas.  We were so full and happy.

Ivan and I walked to The Blackpool Tower to see The Afternoon Tea Dance in The Blackpool Tower Ballroom.  The tea dance is dancing in the afternoon with tea, sandwiches, cakes and biscuits – of course, you don’t drink tea or eat while you’re dancing.  Imagine trying to dance while you’re sipping on your tea.. that would be hard, but challenging.

It is free to enter upstairs and watch the tea dancing. 

Beautiful artwork on the ceiling

The ballroom was lovely with beautiful architecture.

The organist plays songs right on the stage.

Organist on the stage

We saw lots of dancers doing the Foxtrot, Waltz, The Charleston and more.  It was fun to see the people dance.  Some were really quite good and a few were trying, but not really that good. 

Tea dance at The Blackpool Tower Ballroom

It made think that Life is like dancing… Some are flawless at it, while others have to try really hard to make it work.

Ivan started driving us toward Liverpool.  I was really tired for some reason and took a long nap.  Lil Dave kept Ivan company while he was driving.

It took us an hour and 15 minutes to arrive in Liverpool from Blackpool.

We drove to The Claremont Bar. 

The Claremont Bar in Liverpool

This pub is where Ivan’s dad Ken grew up.  Ivan’s never been, so we had to make a visit.  Neal, Ivan’s brother, said it wasn’t located in a nice area.  But, it looked fine to us.

Ivan and I went inside and checked it all out.  Ivan ordered us a mixed fruits cider to share. 

The Claremont Bar

Ivan tried to imagine his dad and his uncles at the bar helping out their mum.  We finished our cider and then walked back to the car.

Ivan drove us to the Radisson Blu Hotel.  The first room we got was like walking into a sauna. Ivan did read the bad reviews saying that some of the rooms were incredibly hot.  The air-conditioning didn’t really work – it just seemed to circulate the air in the room.  The windows didn’t open, so you couldn’t let any cool air in at all.  Ivan went down to the front desk to get a new room.

Ivan opened the door to the new room and it was so much cooler.  I’m glad that got sorted out.  I don’t think I could have slept in the hot room.

I worked on the blog while Ivan used the internet.

We walked to the Indian restaurant Spice City for dinner.  Ivan and I love Indian food.  There’s always so much selection on the menu in an Indian restaurant. 

We started off with poppadums with the lovely chutneys.  I wasn’t that big a fan of their mint chutney.

Chicken shishlik at Spice City

Ivan and I shared a vegetable and cheese stuffed pepper, chicken shishlik and Fish Balti Jalfrezi.  Lil Dave got a banana dal and a banana shihlik.  The food was simply delicious.

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