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First Time England trip for this Beatles fan

My husband is indulging me and I will spend my 41st birthday exploring Liverpool and London. We fly into Gatwick and I'm thinking our best use of time is to go from there to Liverpool for a night and then back to London. Is the train the best mode of travel for this jaunt? Any advice you can give me for this trip would be very much appreciated. This is our first trip out of the US.

Posted by
2753 posts

You didn't say how long you are staying, but I'd give Liverpool more than one night. There is so much more than the Beatles there, and they will take a bit. If it were me, and I was flying in and out of London, I'd put Liverpool in the middle of the visit and spend one full day there at least, plus the overflow from the travel days. The train to Liverpool is pretty easy unless something has changed in the last 3 years.

Posted by
9 posts

Because Grandpa will only last so long at our place with the kids our time is limited. We get into Gatwick from Boston at 7:40am on Monday and leave the following Sunday evening.

Posted by
26039 posts

If you are arriving from Anthem, how many stops will you have before you even arrive at Gatwick? Arriving after an overnight flight?

As this is your first overseas trip I don't think that you can conceive of how much jetlag and lack of sleep can really exhaust you and make a pudding of your first day.

Can I suggest that if Liverpool is as important as you say it is to you, you won't want to be a zombie.

Wray is right - pop up to Liverpool when you are fresh and can really enjoy your goals....

There is plenty in London to bookend the jaunt.

When is the trip?

Posted by
10027 posts

Don't neglect the Beatles in London. London Walks offers two Beatles tours:

London Walks--Beatles

Give yourself some time for Liverpool. A cousin of mine is a Beatles fanatic and he tried to make a day trip out of London for a Beatles tour in Liverpool. Unfortunately, his train was late and he missed the tour.

Posted by
533 posts

The train is an excellent way to get between London and Liverpool. There are direct trains once an hour from London Euston station to Liverpool Lime Street station, and the trip takes a little more than two hours. That's certainly better than the coach (bus), which takes about six hours.

However - and here's another reason to postpone the Liverpool jaunt until the middle or the end of your trip - the train tickets are very expensive if you don't book them in advance. You can see the schedules and fares at http://nationalrail.co.uk: For a random date in November, you can get a one-way ticket for as little as GBP 16.50, but when you look at buying a ticket for today, it's either GBP 156 (for peak times) or GBP 81.40 (for off-peak times).

To benefit from the cheap advance-purchase tickets, though, you need to commit to taking a specific train at a specific time. That's hard to do when you want to get right off an international flight and onto a train. (What if your flight is delayed? Or if passport control takes longer than you expected?) Better, I think, to spend your first night or two in London and then make your way to Liverpool.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you for the advice. Those are things I had not thought of. We will have to fly from Phoenix to Boston the day before and then we fly overnight to London. Wow, I'm already nervous and we don't go until early March.

Posted by
4524 posts

I agree with the others about trying to go to Liverpool in the middle of your visit rather than the first night. Especially since you'll have extra jetlag from coming from the western US. And if kids are involved, don't discount the effect on them and how tired and grumpy they can get. Not to mention grandpa ;-)

It's been a long time since I was in Liverpool, and I think there is much more Beatles attractions than when I was there. You must definitely spend the time to visit Penny Lane and those environs plus the sights in central Liverpool. That will be hard to do with just one night, and even harder if squeezing it all in just after arriving in country.

Posted by
2753 posts

@Kristina, Even many of the most traveled people get travel nerves, but you will have a great time. Believe it! I do find the travel days to be the most stressful when traveling alone, and you are not. I also tend to leave from the same locale versus open jaws if the cities are not too far apart. So rather than worrying about how to get to Manchester, etc. (not hard though) I would bookend Liverpool with London as I said before. This way once you get to Liverpool you are an old hand at getting back, traveling around London, and traveling to Heathrow. I enjoy returning to the entry city and feeling like it is home, I kind of relax, finish seeing what I missed, etc. This sounds like a lovely birthday trip.

Posted by
9 posts

@Keith, I'm not familiar with Chester--can you tell me about it?

There seems to be no argument that we should head to London first and then to Liverpool, when we are really able to enjoy it (and I have the energy to be an emotional wreck) The airfare deal that is allowing us to take the trip requires we fly in and out of Gatwick, so that is not a factor.

Posted by
1259 posts

I just wanted to reiterate the previous posters that said you need more time in Liverpool. We've been there eight nights over three different trips. In that time we've only done two Beatles things - the Beatles Story during our first time, and the Magical Mystery Tour on the third. There really is a lot to see in the city, whatever your interests. Try to fit in at least two nights - and I agree that you shouldn't do it right away upon getting to England.

Posted by
3319 posts

If you visit the British Library in London there's a display with all kinds of Beatles documents...lyrics scribbled on envelopes, letters between the boys, etc...it's an easy stop and you can also see some of the other great documents of western civilization!

Posted by
11266 posts

Start by getting Rick Steves England. This will give you the basics you need for each city, including trains between them (which are indeed much cheaper if booked in advance). Since you've never been abroad, you'll need his many tips about hotels, using ATM's to get cash, getting around, restaurants, etc.

His chapters on London and on Liverpool have information about Beatles sights in each city. One to book in advance for Liverpool is the National Trust tour of Paul's and John's childhood homes. Other tours drive past, but this is the only way to get inside them, and the numbers are strictly limited (I'm going in two weeks and got my tickets a while ago). https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/beatles-childhood-homes/features/visit-the-beatles-childhood-homes

Only by reading about each city can you figure out how much time you want to spend in each one. Just make sure you're back in London the night before your flight.

Posted by
9 posts

@Keith I wondered what happened. Don't worry Abbey Road is the top of my list. I always swore I'd be on that crosswalk on my 40th. Better late than never! This is an obsession that involves children's names, tattoos and making my husband sit through four Paul McCartney concerts.

While in London, I believe the plan will be the usual tourist stuff. The Beatles walking tour, a Jack the Ripper or ghost tour and the British Library are definite. I am looking at the London City Pass-we've had great luck using the city passes in several US cities.

Everyone has been so helpful! I have redone the schedule to head to London first and finish up in Liverpool. Depending on how long things take there we will head to Chester. It looks beautiful.

Posted by
8889 posts

Kristina
Re Abbey Road. Make sure you go to the right one. Se here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2273926/Confused-tourists-flock-docklands-light-railway-station-called-Abbey-Road-hunt-famous-Beatles-zebra-crossing.html

I also recommend Chester. It is an easy day trip from Liverpool, it is at the end of a commuter rail line from Liverpool which goes under the Mersey. Or you can of course take a ferry 'cross the Mersey and join the train at the other side.

Posted by
26039 posts

Be careful with the London city pass - it is expensive and you have limited time, and many major attractions and high altitude viewing places are free so b very sure that you will get your money's worth...

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

My first trip out of the US started with landing at Gatwick. Keep in mind too that you may not be jet lagged upon landing, you might be immune to it but since this is your first flight over, you won't know until you arrive. I would suggest doing the r/t to Liverpool on the second or third day after arriving in London, although two years ago upon landing at Frankfurt after a ten plus hour flight from SFO, within a couple of hours I was on the train at Frankfurt Hbf for another six hours to Berlin.

Posted by
234 posts

Hi Kristina,
This is what we did in Liverpool in 2015. We had a BLAST!

  1. We stayed two nights at the Hard Days Night Hotel. Each room has a different Beatles theme, the lad's music plays throughout the hotel, posters and photos throughout the public areas. Ponied up more dough than I usually would for a hotel room, but it was so worth it.
  2. There's a Beatles' gift shop next door to the hotel. Easy to unload one's wallet in the place.
  3. The Cavern Club is less than a five-minute walk from the Hotel on Mathew St.
  4. Further down on Mathew St. is The Beatles Store. Continue walking down Mathew St., turn left on Stanley St., and you'll see the Eleanor Rigby Statue. We didn't know about it at the time . . . we'll see it on our next visit.
  5. The Magical Mystery Tour. What's not to like about being surrounded by Beatles' fans and visiting some of the group's influences.
  6. Visited the childhood homes of Paul and John. This is via The National Trust. Check it out ahead of time . . . well worth it.
  7. Went to Penny Lane and walked around. Got a haircut and Tony Slavin's Barbershop. There are a few barbershops around, but this is the one that Paul wrote about in Penny lane. The lady that cut my hair said tourists come in all the time just to look around, but many do get a haircut.
  8. The Beatles Story Museum. Really well put together. I'd allow at least three hours. Together with grabbing a quick bite at the cafeteria and getting a few items at the store, we spent five hours there.
  9. Liverpool Museum. Gave a really good history about the city, and included music exhibits about the Beatles and other Merseyside groups.

We wanted to see a cover band, but none were playing while we were there.

Two nights and two days covered what we saw, but easily could have spent another day and night. We did take in the Liverpool Cathedral and walked around the waterfront.

Have a fab time!

Posted by
139 posts

You have to reserve times to visit the inside of the Lennon and McCartney childhood homes (the National Trust deal mentioned above). The best part of the three trips I've made to the Pool.

There are lots of tours now (first trip missed the ONE tour held that day). We took a Beatles taxi tour on the spur of the moment last trip, customized to skip seeing the outside of the homes were already inside earlier.

There were 2 Beatle walking tours in London when I was last there and did them both on separate trips. Both end on the real Abbey Road, both fun.

Posted by
224 posts

I would echo # 3 - 9 of Tim's post. I did those in 2015 while spending several days in Liverpool. It is a fun city. I would have spent more time in the museums if I could have stayed another day or two,t but I focused on the Beatles related sights. They Magical Mystery Tour is fun, but you don't get to go into the houses, so booking the National Trust tours is worth it. The waterfront area has fun restaurants and is a great place to walk.

Posted by
5693 posts

First reconsider getting the London Pass.

Instead investigate the 2 for 1 deals which should help you with lower ticket prices for some of the major sites. There's more than enough info on this forum about the 2 for 1 deals. Type it into the search engine.

It's also described in the RS Guidebook. Rick's guidebook should be your first investment. Makes all the difference for first time visitors. Its full of practical information. Will explain train travel, Oyster Cards, ATM's, etc. Get it and read it.

The room you'll want in the British Library is informally known as the Treasure Room, and formally known as the Sir John C Ritblat Gallery. It's amazing. https://www.bl.uk/events/treasures-of-the-british-library

Personally, l always recommend a visit to the Museum of London for first timers. Why not learn the history of the city you are visiting? There's a Pret a Manager (chain with fresh sandwiches, coffee, salads, soups that are all over London) nearby where you can enjoy coffee, or a pastry or lunch before or after you visit to the Museum. Last November in a bit of a rain I sat inside and watched the Lord's Mayor Parade pass by.

The day you land and get settled go right back out and walk off the jet lag. Do you know where you are staying yet?

I'm going to send a PM.

Great city and congrats on being able to take your own Magical Mystery Tour for your birthday.