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.

06/22/13
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Robbie Williams concert

On June 22, 2013, Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to Market Street in Manchester.  I lost a bra in Marrakech, so I had to find a replacement.

Laura suggested Debenham’s or Marks & Spencers for bras.  I popped in to M&S to try on bras.  Ivan and Lil Dave went to Phone Warehouse and Boots.  I found a nice bra and underwear set.

It was an overcast day.  We were hoping it wouldn’t rain tonight, since we were going to a concert in a stadium.

Our next stop was Primark.  It’s a great store with tons of cool selection of clothes, accessories, purses and home stuff with really reasonable prices.  Ivan and I bought some clothes and rain jackets.

Zara was up next, so Ivan could find the jacket he’s seen before.  He found one similar which looked really good on him, so he bought it.

We walked to Piccadilly Gardens – it’s what Morrissey sings about in the song Piccadilly Palare and not Piccadilly Circus in London which everybody thinks it is.  Ivan and I were both hungry and were thinking of an Italian place.  But, then we saw the Street Food Market.

Street Food Market at Picadilly

We checked out the market and found a great place selling chicken tandoori wraps.  Ivan and I each got one.  Lil Dave went to another stall to get a banana and chicken sandwich.  Our food tasted great.

Ivan needed a haircut bad, so we went to The Arndale mall.  We found Supercuts and Ivan got his hair cut.

Ivan drove us back to the apartment.  We chilled for 30 minutes before heading out again.

Ivan drove us to a car parking lot near Etihad Stadium.  Tonight, we were going to see Robbie Williams with Olly Murs as his opening act.  Olly doesn’t go on until 7 pm or so, but we wanted to make sure we got in the Golden Circle.

We walked to the stadium and got there at 4 pm.  There was a long line at A1 which Ivan found out is the best entrance to the stadium – closest to the Golden Circle.  Ivan read that the doors open at 5 pm, but the line started moving a few minutes before 5 pm.

Ivan researched that the Golden Circle is a great place to watch the concert.  Robbie Williams has been playing in this stadium for the last 3 nights, so people have been saying things on the internet.  The Golden Circle is actually a special ticket which we didn’t have.  We snuck into the Golden Circle.  A few people were checking for wristbands and the right tickets, but Ivan and I just waltzed right in with no trouble.

We walked around the circle to check out all the different views of the stage.  Behind the stage, there’s a screen with part of Robbie Williams’ face on it.  Ivan thought that the screen would open up later.  Two runways were on both sides of the stage.

Once you leave the Golden Circle, you’re given a green wristband that ensures your re-entry into the area.

We walked to the seats and sat down for awhile since we had awhile to wait.

Before the Robbie Williams concert

Ivan and I played games on our phones and chatted.

At 6:20 pm, we stood in line to get food.  Ivan was thinking ahead – he thought that the queues (lines) for the food would be huge after Olly Murs finishes.  I agreed, so we decided to get food now and eat it cold during the break.  Ivan and I each got a chicken sandwich and chips.  We shared the chips (french fries) and headed back to the Golden Circle.

We sat down on the side to wait for Olly Murs to come on.  He wasn’t on at 7, but at 7:30 pm.  Olly was very good and he’s quite cute.  He looks really young though (like 18 years old) – I think he has that stubble on his face to make him look older.  He sang all his hits like Dance with Me Tonight, Heart Skips a Beat, Dear Darlin’ and Troublemaker.  He was great and he danced around sexily for the girls.  It started showering a bit during Olly’s set.

We knew his last song would probably be Troublemaker which it turned out to be.. so we started heading up to the toilets during the start of the song.  I wanted to avoid the long line for the ladies’ toilet since it’s always long especially compared to the men’s line.  Ivan went to get wine while I went to the loo.

We ate our chicken sandwiches which didn’t taste bad cold during the break.

Robbie ziplining into Etihad Stadium

Photo by jenniewraight

Later at 9 pm, Robbie Williams came down a zipline for his grand entrance.  He took the stage and it started raining.  Robbie said Let me introduce myself, I’m Robbie F***ing Williams.  How funny!  He told the crowd that the next 2 hours, we would be his.  I know I was totally down for this.  This was my first time seeing Robbie and Ivan’s sixth time.

Robbie Williams is such a performer – people compare him to Freddie Mercury.  I read that he had gotten fat, but he looked good to me.  But, then again he was wearing all black for most of the concert.  Ivan told me later that he gained a bit of weight.

The rain kept coming back and then stopping – I’m just glad that it wasn’t too hard.  I’m so happy that we bought our rain jackets earlier at Primark.

The screen with Robbie’s face on it was being used for visuals on the big screen and his face which we thought was really cool.  A silver cast of Robbie’s face came out and the top of his head opened up and balloons flew out of it.

Balloons coming out of Robbie's head

Robbie moved around on the stages.  He is quite a good looking guy and very cheeky.  He definitely has charisma.

It was cool to see the visuals on the big screen and Robbie’s face which matched with what song he was currently singing.

Bright stained glass on the big screen

A bronze cast of Robbie’s face came out this time.  This one had stairs leading up to it.  Some of the band went up with Robbie.  The cast shot out fire from its head and it shot water out at the audience.

Olly Murs came out and sang Kids with Robbie.

Robbie Williams has so many wonderful songs and he sang many favorites like Millennium, Rock DJ, Come Undone, Let Me Entertain You, Bodies, Candy and Strong.

During the song Me & My Monkey, the screen had Robbie as a an ape.  Very cute and funny!

Me & my monkey visuals

Lil Dave came to the stadium to hear this song since it’s his favorite Robbie Williams song – he was hanging around somewhere.. I didn’t see him, but he said he’d come just for this song.  It turns out that the fans really love this song.

Concert from high up

Picture by samlyon4

Robbie came out for an encore and sang Feel, She’s the One and Angels.  It’s so cool singing Angels along with 49,999 other people.

The concert was amazing.  I really enjoyed it.  Robbie is wonderful to watch.  I’m glad that we’ll be seeing him again soon at Wembley Stadium in London.

After the concert, we walked out via the delivery entrance.  The queues for the bus were so, so long.

Ivan and I walked back to our car in the parking lot.  Our plan was to wait for 30 minutes until the traffic died down and then drive back.  We did just that.  We played on our phone and listened to the radio.

Right before midnight, we left the parking lot and it was pretty quiet on the streets.

05/23/13
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Tapas & House Music

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had a really late lunch on May 23, 2013 at Bar Restaurant Vara De Rey.  Ivan and I shared a few tapas: anchovies, Spanish omelet, potatoes with octopus and squid.

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Lil Dave got a banana stuffed chicken.  It was tasty food once again.

We walked up to the stage in Dalt Vila Castle where Fatboy Slim and other DJs will be playing later tonight.  It was already busy since the website said that people should arrive by 6:30 pm.  Ivan figured it was a mistake and found out that you could arrive later.  Ivan was surprised to see so many people in shorts.  Sure, it’s warm during the day.. but the nights get chilly.

We chilled out in the room for awhile.  Lil Dave decided to head out into Ibiza Town while we went to hear some great house music. 

At 8:40 pm, we walked up to the stage to see Idris Elba.  He’s an actor who’s known for being in the tv shows The Wire and Luther.  His DJ name is Driis.   Ivan and I were curious to see what kind of music he would play. 

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He was good, but not amazing.  He’s getting popular as a DJ, but I think he needs to practice more.  He messed up and stopped the music altogether twice.  He apologized the second time saying that I’m gonna tell you the truth…I played the wrong f’ing song.  At least he admitted his mistake.. he’s only human.  He did have a weird sudden music change which I thought didn’t really make sense.. also, a build-up that wasn’t exactly perfect.. think he put in a beat in too fast.  I also think he has too many build-ups.. where the music escalates up and goes nuts.  I’m not sure of the actual name.. but that’s what I call it.  His music was funky music with some deep house.  Ivan said his music reminded him of house music played during the 1990’s.  I think in a year or so, he’s going to be wonderful.  I loved that he was dancing around and really into the music.  You can tell he’s enjoying being a DJ.  I’m sure it’s an amazing feeling making people dance and getting that lovey energy from the crowd.

There was a massive queue (line) for the port-a-potties.  We just walked outside of the stage area and walked to a bar nearby.  Ivan and I each got a glass of red wine and used the loo (toilet).  It was quick and easy unlike the long port-a-potty line.

We went back to the stage to see Pete Tong.  He played great funky house music.  Ivan and I love dancing to good house music.  You seem to lose yourself in the music.  I’m happy there was room to dance in the front.  It’s great to feel the music up close and see the DJ as well.

Ivan and I walked back to the bar to use the toilet again.  We shared a red wine before heading back.

Pete Tong was finishing up his set.  I was getting excited that Fatboy Slim was going to come on.  He’s definitely our favorite DJ.  He’s just so fun.  As usual, Fatboy Slim had awesome visuals with funny pictures of him like a big yellow smiley face.  There was even smiley faces projected onto the castle. 

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We danced non-stop for an hour to Fatboy Slim.  He seems to throw in cool songs that he loves.  The vocals are always fun.  I love his funky style.  If you want to dance to awesome house music.. you have to see Fatboy Slim.

We had a wonderful time dancing for almost 3 hours.  I love dancing.  It makes me so happy.

We left early so we could avoid the crowd.  Ivan always thinks ahead.  He’s so smart.

We went to eat at Tentazione right near the stage area.  Ivan and I shared cod ravioli and tuna and onion pizza. 

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The meal was delicious. 

Ivan and I wanted to see if we could get in to Fatboy Slim’s other show at Cipriani Downtown Ibiza right next to Ibiza Gran Hotel.  We couldn’t find a taxi that would take passengers on the street.  There was a long queue for the taxi rank and ALL taxis went there.  I guess it’s the law that the taxis are only allowed to pick-up passengers in a taxi rank.  We walked to the Gran Hotel which was only a 10 minute walk.

We went to Cipriani Downtown Ibiza and Ivan found out that it was 40 Euros per person for the entrance fee.  I thought was a bit steep.  I wasn’t chuffed if we didn’t see him since we just saw him perform a wonderful set.  Ivan and I saw the restaurant and it looked really small.  It would get crowded very quickly.  Ivan told me later that Fatboy Slim was supposed to perform at the new club Bomba that is close by which hasn’t even opened yet.  Since that didn’t happen, the owner of Bomba who also owns Cipriani Downtown Ibiza moved the event to the restaurant.  Ivan told me earlier that a lot of people from the International Music Summit would be at Pacha instead.  He was right since when we left in a cab later.. there was big crowd outside Pacha. 

We were back at the apartment and yet again.. we had jetlag and couldn’t sleep until 6 am.

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