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.

06/2/13
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Epic Moon

Ivan, Lil Dave, Denise, Ken, Neal and D and I left the apartment at 11:45 am on June 2, 2013.  Today, we were boarding the Norwegian Epic for a Mediterranean cruise ship.  It was a fast check-in for cruise ship since the check-in opened at noon.  We got an upgrade to a bigger room probably since the boat wasn’t very full.

We went to our rooms on the 10th floor and it was a huge balcony room.  The balcony was so big and there was plenty of space in the room.

Big balcony handicapped room

Ivan noticed that it was a handicapped room, so it makes sense that it was so spaced out especially in the bathroom.

All of our rooms were on the same floor.  Everybody went to the lunch buffet.

Norwegian Epic buffet

The buffet room is nicely decorated.  Too bad the selection of food wasn’t that good.  The desserts were behind a plastic cover, so you felt like you were in your school cafeteria.  Not very classy.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went back to the room.  Lil Dave went to explore the ship to see if he could find some monkey friends.  Ivan and I changed into our swimsuits and headed for the waterslides.

Waterslides on the Norwegian Epic

There are three waterslides on the boat.  Two of them are completely in the dark.  One of them goes off the boat a bit and should be see through so you can see the ocean while you’re riding it.  The last one is a bowl ride where you ride an inner tube.  The slides are fun.  We rode them a few times and then chilled in the jacuzzi.

Ivan and I changed in the room and then walked around the ship to get an Ivan self-guided tour.

Later, we went to the safety drill which is mandatory.  It was so stupid since they showed you how to put on the life vest… and it’s obvious that you understand how they put it on even if you don’t speak English.  But, after they had to translate it into 5 other languages. Boring! On other cruise lines like Carnival.. they only do it in English.

Neal and D joined us later since they have an interior room with no window.  Ivan and I would never get an interior room again.  We had one once and it was really small and you never know what time it is since it’s always so dark in there.

It was almost time to sail away.  Neal brought some rum, iced tea and lemonade to the room.  For some reason, you can only get orange juice during breakfast.  Lame.  Neal mixed rum and iced tea and DID NOT like it at all.  Ivan and I made our drinks with lemonade and rum.  I told Lil Dave that I made him one with a little rum (shh, I didn’t though!) and some of his banana juice.

Neal & Ivan chillin' on the balcony

We relaxed on the balcony with our drinks while the boat sailed away from Barcelona.

Neal and D left to get ready.

Ivan and I showered and met everybody in the Atrium.  On most cruise ships, there’s an Atrium with a beautiful chandelier right in front of the row of elevators.  It’s quite impressive.  The two Norwegian ships we have been on don’t have this.  The Atrium has a big screen tv and a bunch of seats.  It’s not very nice at all.

The Welcome Aboard show was currently on with the cruise director Jill who is, according to Ivan, really plastic and boring.  He says she’s like a school mistress.    We watched the show for a few minutes seeing a preview of the Spanish ballet.

Ivan, Neal, D and I headed to Tradewinds where the shops are.  The Liquor Tasting was supposed to be at 7 pm, but it was late for some reason.  We chatted with one of the guys who had a $10 table for the shopping special tomorrow.  Neal really liked the hats!

Neal with a stack of hats

The Liquor Tasting was finally open at 7:20 pm.  We all tried a few samples of the liquor that the store is selling on board.

Ivan & D getting liquor samples

If you buy something at duty free, you can’t have it until the end of the trip.  How dumb!  The cruise ship just wants you to buy all their liquor on board.

We had dinner at The Manhattan Room.  Ivan and I tried the seafood paella which was the regional specialty for the night.  It was nice to be with Ivan’s family and chat about our plans for the rest of the cruise.

Our group walked to Headliners for the dueling piano shows called Howl at the Moon.  Two guys were playing the piano.  One guy was average while the other guy was really good.

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Lots of people were requesting songs.  If you tipped them, your song was given priority.  I didn’t bring any money with me, so my song wasn’t played while we were there.  A black lady took over for the average guy. She was really good and funny.  Lots of fun songs were played like Midnight Toker, Benny and the Jets and Don’t Stop Believing.  It was great singing along with the crowd.  I hope to check them out another night.

We walked out to check out the Beatles tribute band.  They were very good.

The Beatles tribute band

They didn’t really look like The Beatles, but it didn’t really matter.  It was a shame that the Atrium doesn’t have that many seats.  All the seats were taken there and upstairs at the Pub which overlooks the Atrium.  We listened for awhile.  I was singing along to their music and dancing a little.

Ivan was talking to Guest Services when Neal and D left.

Ivan and I listened to The Beatles band with Denise and Ken for a short time.  We said bye to them since we wanted to catch up with Neal and D at the nightclub.

We went to check out Bliss.  Some people were dancing away, but not that many.  Ivan said we should check out Spice at H2O which is the outdoor club.  I forgot that Neal said they were going to see what was going on at Spice, not Bliss.  We went up there and it was empty except for one couple.

Ivan and I checked out the Mountain Slide which was unfortunately closed up.  It looks like it would be lots of fun to climb up and then slide down it.

Fun Mountain Slide

We went back to the ugly Atrium and listened to The Beatles more with Ivan’s parents before we went back to the room.

It was really rocky that night on the boat.  The beds were very comfortable and it was easy to drift off to sleep and into dreamland.

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