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12th May, 2020

#PaperbackWriter - A Beatles Fan's 'Pilgrimage' to Liverpool

Kat Mokrynski talks us through her dream trip to Liverpool, how she explored the City and finished her vacation with a visit to our award-winning exhibition.

In October of 2019 during my university’s fall break, I decided to take a trip, one that I had been dreaming of for years. I had taken to calling it my own little “pilgrimage”, going to pay respect to four musicians who had changed my life. Indeed, I was traveling to Liverpool, the legendary hometown of The Beatles. My dad had introduced me to the Fab Four before I could even have full conversations. I would crawl into his office and he would put one of the many albums in the cassette tape player, laughing as I babbled along to the music. Now, nearly two decades later, here I was, stepping off of the train into Liverpool Lime Street Station.

The first day was dedicated to wandering around the city center, checking out all of the old haunts that John, Paul, George, and Ringo had seen during their formative years in Liverpool before traveling the world. In the early morning I walked down Mathew Street and took a “backstage” tour of the Cavern Club, learning about how the club began and how it had been restored, albeit a few feet away from the original. I found out more about the city of Liverpool itself and its role in the county of Merseyside as a port city. Something that truly made the visit special was being able to stand on the Live Lounge stage where many famous artists had performed before, including the legendary Paul McCartney.

As a quick break I stopped for afternoon tea at the Hard Days Night Hotel, the only Beatles-inspired hotel in the world. The sheer number of pictures and artwork around the lobby could have kept me entertained for the entire day, but I could only spend a few hours there before heading to my next Beatles destination - The Beatles statute at the Pier head. As someone who had been born nearly thirty years after the band had broken up, this would be the closest I could get to seeing the four boys in their “Hard Days Night” prime, looking ready to take the world by storm.

After spending the morning exploring Liverpool by foot, it was time to climb aboard the Magical Mystery Tour bus. There were about twenty of us on the bus, all Beatlemaniacs, many from different countries who had come to Liverpool for the reason of seeing the famous Beatles sites. As we drove around different locations like Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, and the boy’s childhood homes, the bus driver blasted different Beatles songs related to the places we were seeing, and we all sang along. We even caught a glimpse of St. Peter’s Church Hall, where the iconic Lennon-McCartney pair met for the first time at a fete.

That night, I finally got to live out my dream of dancing the night away at the Cavern Club. After having explored the building with an expert in the morning and gotten the full Beatles experience, I could let loose and enjoy a “Ringo” cocktail while swaying along to the guitarist playing Beatles songs on the tiny stage. We all sang along to hits like “Come Together”,

“Revolution”, and “Help!” and I felt a strange sense of belonging, as though I was meant to be here. Throughout the night I talked with quite a few people who had been around the Cavern Club in its early days, having seen the Beatles before they became a household name. One Liverpudlian man even gave me a history lesson on the posters around the club, buying me a magnet of one of the posters so I wouldn’t forget what he had shown me.

On my second (and unfortunately, final) day in Liverpool, I began my day with a tour by the National Trust of Mendips and 20 Forthlin Road, the homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, respectively. Different members of the National Trust gave us tours of the homes from top to bottom, telling us what it would have been like for the boys living there in the 1950s. I stood in the same places John and Paul had many years ago, imagining what it was like for the two of them to write songs together. Being able to have the chance to play on the piano at Paul’s home, the one he had played in James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke”, was truly a magical experience. I felt connected to my favorite Beatle, the one who had inspired me to become a musician.

Last, but certainly not least, I arrived at The Beatles Story exhibit at the Albert Dock. After hearing so much about the lives of the Beatles, from childhood to superstar-level fame, seeing all of the accurate recreations was a fascinating experience, especially with unique locations like The Casbah Club and even the Yellow Submarine itself! There were plenty of unique memorabilia items including handwritten lyrics that I read, trying to see how the legendary songwriters put their words onto paper. At the end of the exhibition was the white room where a white piano stood alone, John Lennon’s “Imagine” playing softly through the speakers. I stood in silence, closing my eyes and trying to imagine the man sitting at the piano, playing and singing along to the iconic song. After a few moments I opened my eyes, turned off the audio guide, and returned to normal life.

After exploring the exhibit, I grabbed a quick lunch for myself in the downstairs cafe and watched some visitors play the piano in the seating area. Of course, I also picked up a few souvenirs for my fellow Beatlemaniacs back home! But finally, it was time to return to London. My Beatles Pilgrimage had come to a close, but in my heart, I knew it was certainly not the last time that I would visit Liverpool. The Beatles had always played a special role in my life, and now their hometown had as well.

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