As well as being a film blogger and ardent movie-goer, I am also a huge music fan and sometime musician. So when I was offered a car-cation to Liverpool – the home of The Beatles – courtesy of Stena Line, I couldn’t say no! The timing couldn’t have been better as not only is Stena Line celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but it’s also 50 years since the formation of The Beatles as we know them today.
We set out for Belfast to catch the 10.30am ferry to Liverpool. As it’s an 8 hour crossing, I was delighted that we had a nice little cabin to relax in. We also had access to the Stena Plus Lounge, where we could avail of free snacks, wine and soft drinks as we kicked back to enjoy the journey. Being a movie buff, I was excited to check out the onboard cinema, which was showing a couple of recent releases, and which was a great way to pass some sailing time!
Pretty soon the Liverpool skyline appeared in the distance and it was time to bid the boat goodbye. We were staying at the Beatle-themed Hard Day’s Night Hotel, which is only a 10 minute drive from the port, and is a must for any Beatles fan. The hotel is housed in a Grade II listed building in the heart of the “Beatles Quarter”, right around the corner from Matthew Street, home of the famous Cavern Club. As well as the photo’s and murals which adorn the hotel walls, each room features a unique Beatles artwork, while non-stop Beatles music plays in the bar and restaurant. It’s fair to say I was smiling like a Cheshire cat the whole time!
The hotel package we availed of for our stay was The Magical Mystery Package, which includes tickets for the Magical Mystery Tour and The Beatles Story – two fantastic tours not to be missed. The Magical Mystery Tour takes you down to all the places associated with the Fab Four and their songs; it was an amazing experience to stand in Penny Lane, to look through the gates of Strawberry Field and to see Woolton Village where Lennon made his first public appearance with the Quarrymen! We also took in the childhood homes of John, Paul and Ringo (George’s being unavailable that day) and finished up at The Cavern where we were treated to live renditions of Beatles hits over a Beatle drink or two. The Beatles Story is an interactive journey through the bands’ history, which features great sets and memorabilia throughout.
To give ourselves a little break from our Beatles activities, we took a stroll down to the Albert Dock. Situated in the heart of the city, Albert Dock is a wonderful area to browse around, as it houses lots of great shops, bars and restaurants. Grouped around the Marina, this is a lovely location to stop for a drink and it even has its own Yellow Submarine! A short walk from the Dock we took a well-earned break with a rooftop dinner and drinks, overlooking Liverpool’s iconic Liver Building.
Sadly, our time in Liverpool was drawing to a close. After saying our goodbyes at the hotel, we headed back to port to catch the evening ferry home. On the way, we decided to take a short drive out to see Anthony Gormley’s installation, Another Place, which is situated on Crosby Beach, about a 15 minute drive from Liverpool city centre. It was a beautiful evening and as the sun was beginning to set, we took in the mysterious figures staring out to sea. This was a perfect way to end our trip; the figures invite contemplation as they stand looking at the horizon, and the view of these cast-iron men dotted along the coastline left me with a sense of peace and calm, as my thoughts turned to our journey home.
I was a guest of Stena Line, who provided ferry travel and hotel accommodation on this trip. All opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Photographs courtesy of Ronan Loughman. Many thanks to Stena Line employees Bernadette and Jimmy, who made our outward and return journeys so enjoyable.