Sunday, September 28, 2014

Let me take you down: Taking a Beatles Taxi Tour of Liverpool

Let me take you down: Taking a Beatles Taxi Tour of Liverpool
by rick olivares

“Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes…”

Taking the two-hour and a half Daytrippers Beatles Taxi Tour of Liverpool was a treat for the heart, rubber soul, and the senses. When you travel around the streets of Liverpool while Beatles songs are playing, the tunes literally come to life. The words take on new meaning as you see the very things that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote about in their songs.

Their songs, especially the early ones, were their life stories.

I checked out the Beatles Tours of Liverpool and there were several. I was looking at this one tour when the concierge at the Britannia Adelphi Hotel pulled out another flyer and gave a person a call. It was the Daytrippers Beatles Taxi Tour.

I set it for 12:30noon so I had ample time to explore Anfield, my first tour of the day. I was taking the Silver Tour that cost £65 and two and a half hours of tours all over the city. The flyer had a sign that said that if there were five of us, each would end up paying only £9! I prayed I wouldn’t be the only one taking the tour as I could sure save some pounds sterling.

And on time, Dave, my guide arrived at the hotel where I was the only one. The £65 better be worth it, I thought to myself because there were others that were cheaper (because they were in larger groups).

I saw his taxi with caricatures of the Beatles outside. “This is real nice, Dave. Do you mind taking my picture next to your cab?”

He obliged and that was my first picture of the tour.

Dave, a local lad, has been doing these tours for the past seven years of his life. He was a Beatles fan but not the dyed-in-the-wool type as his knowledge was passing. But when he got into this tour business, he really had to brush up on his knowledge about the Fab Four and his hometown.

The first stop was at the University of Liverpool. We parked outside the school and walked in. Next to the University is a building that is now closed down.

Dave pointed to a sign on the wall of one building that had an image of John Lennon. “This is the former Liverpool Maternity Hospital where two of the city’s most famous people were born,” said Dave. “As you can see, John Lennon is obviously one of them.”

Dave went on to talk about John’s birth by his mother Julia and their troubled family. After a few minutes, we started to walk away. Then I stopped in my tracks. “Dave, you said there are two famous Liverpudians born here. Who was the other?”

“Me,” he deadpanned. I had a laugh and we had a picture together. Famous people alert!

I knew then it was going to be a great tour.

And it was as Dave took me to the various homes of the Beatles complete with their back story; the Liverpool Art Institute where Paul McCartney went to school; Penny Lane and breaking it down to the “blue suburban skies” to the corner where the banker parked his motorcar, and the barber shop where the barber showed photographs of “every head he’s had the pleasure to know”; Strawberry Field Orphanage; the site where the Quarrymen played with Paul McCartney trying to upstage John; Eleanor Rigby’s final resting place; and lastly, Matthews Street where the world famous Cavern Club, where the Beatles performed, is located. 

Of all the places that we saw today, the one that resonated well with me was the home where John Lennon grew up with his Aunt Mimi. My favorite Beatle is and will always be Paul McCartney but John has a special place in my heart as a music fan. Maybe because he had a more difficult childhood where he learned about tragedy at a very young age. Maybe it was because he wrote from the heart about the things he held dear and near. I knew more about his hardship growing up and the situation he was in. His tragic death all the more made seeing his childhood home and his room from the outside all the more poignant. I said a prayer and offered it to the Man Above for him (the tour was more interesting for me as Dave was hardcore Catholic just like me). 

Dave was wonderful as there was really a personal touch to the tour. God knows how many times he has delivered his spiels and anecdotes but he was never bored and was very enthusiastic and passionate. He was not only polite but also very accommodating. He showed me around as one would do a friend. 

Closing out the tour, we exchanged low fives.

During our tour, we came across several other tours by his competition. Save for the one tour that is supposed to have received the official blessing out the tourism English Tourism Council, all the other guides were polite. I quickly picked up that the official tour people weren’t too keen on the competition. 

And overall, the Daytrippers Beatles Taxi Tour wasn’t simply a tour into the history of the Fab Four’s humble beginnings but also part of the history of Liverpool. And Dave readily shared his knowledge about the city and its people. It might have been pricey but in the end it was worth every penny. To top it all off, Dave dropped me off at Mathew Street where the Cavern Club is located but gave me clear directions on where to go and what to see in the City Square.

I paid the man, shook hands and gave him a manly hug. It seemed the right thing to do. And best of all, we were both smiling. 

My introduction to music was the Beatles. I was born at the height of their fame and memorized the lyrics to their songs more easily than I did my school lessons. My love for the band also introduced me to their hometown of Liverpool and I soon became a fan of the team (although it is strange that none of the Fab Four rooted for LFC as Paul was an Evertonian, Ringo an Arsenal fan because of his father while John and George had no time for the game).

I still have all their albums and remain a fan. The Beatles Anthology remains one of my favorite books ever. This tour was something a long time coming. 

My first real day in England (I arrived in the evening the day before and only went out for food and stayed inside the hotel) was one of the best of my life. I am not only staying in the hotel that once housed the passengers of the ill-fated cruise of the Titanic but also went on a tour of LFC’s home field, Anfield and the Beatles Taxi Tour. 

This was life, sports, and music history right here. 


For more infor on Daytrippers Beatles Taxi Tour, check out their website or go to their Facebook Page or call Dave (07711 642 425) or Ricky (07856 318 995)

With my tour guide, Dave.

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