That infamous wheelchair, which I mentioned in part two of this story would prove quite valuable during our first full day in London, for we were off on a walking tour of some of the sites related to the history of the Beatles. Our guide for this tour was a man by the name of Richard Porter, who makes his living showing Beatles fans around London. Richard was an interesting man, to say the least. He resembled Richard Simmons and had the energy to match. Were we going to be “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” or merely taking a leisurely stroll through London’s Soho? Fortunately, it was the latter. Richard had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Fab Four, so our tour led us to some very interesting places.
Our first stop along the way was Paul McCartney’s office building. Richard said that Paul can be spotted at times coming and going, but we had no such luck. We then stopped in front of Trident Studios. This is the studio where the Beatles recorded much of the White Album, along with one of their last singles, “Hey Jude.” Many other legendary musicians have recorded here as well, such as David Bowie, Elton John, Queen, The Rolling Stones, and Frank Zappa. From Trident Studios we headed to Carnaby Street, an area well known for its fashion boutiques that catered to many of the popular bands of the 1960’s.
Next, we found ourselves in front of the London Palladium, the theatre where “Beatlemania” is said to have begun . Unfortunately, as you can see from the picture below, the only thing happening this day was a concert by Rick Astley.
From the Palladium we ventured on to a club called the Bag O’ Nails. This is a club where the Jimi Hendrix Experience played one of its first live shows. It is also where Paul McCartney met Linda, his first wife. Loving the music of both the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, it was a thrill for me to see these places that I had only ever read about in books.
Then, as if this day could not get any better, it was time to see one of the places that looms quite large in the legend of the Beatles, Apple Studios at 3 Savile Row. This is where the band played their legendary rooftop concert on January 30, 1969. Sadly, this was to be their last live performance as a band. After spending a few minutes taking pictures and soaking in all of this wonderful history, it was time to move on to our next two stops.
The first of these places was the Scotch of St. James, another very important landmark in the history of 60’s rock and roll, as this was a club that saw many legendary performers play. In the same square where the Scotch of St. James is located also stands the building that once housed the Indica Gallery. The Indica was an art gallery where John Lennon was first introduced to Yoko Ono. Oh, if only John had stayed home that night!
To end our day of Beatles sightseeing, Richard, Amanda, and I caught a train that would take us to Abbey Road Studios. This is a sight that I thought I would never get to see in person. As you can see below, I was able to roll across the famous crossing where the Beatles were photographed for the cover of Abbey Road, which is my favorite album of theirs.
After a very long, but exciting day, at least for me, we rode the train back to the heart of Westminster. This is where Big Ben and the Houses or Parliament are located. I had waited years to visit Big Ben, and to my dismay it was obscured by layers of scaffolding! However, that wasn’t the biggest problem I’d encounter this night.
One thing that became more clear as the night wore on, is that public restrooms are few and far between in London. Having grown up in the United States, where you can stop at almost any fast food restaurant or gas station and use the restroom, I was shocked to discover that this was not the case in London. This realization almost became a disaster as I spent nearly an hour looking for a place to use the restroom. Then when we found one, we had to find a person to unlock it for us. I’m not sure if they were worried someone was going to steal the toilet paper or run off with the commode, but as we found out later there is a secret to these restrooms! After the restroom saga came to an end, we looked for a place to eat. We settled for an interesting pub across the street from Big Ben.
As we were eating we began to speak with the couple seated next to us and found out they were from Chicago, which made for some enjoyable dinner conversation. It was fun to share stories with them and just soak in the culture that surrounded us.
After a very eventful day, we took the train back to our hotel and settled in for the night excited to see what the next day would bring. Oh, and that wheelchair, it made it through the day as well, but it too was weary. I wonder if it has ever been found, but more about that in the next post.