I am back! London is a fabulous city, with so much to see and do and unlike some American cities, I felt pretty safe navigating around central London. Most of the attractions that I saw were beyond retro - you know, dating back to midevil times and earlier - but I did manage to do the Beatles London walking tour, which shows you where scenes from "A Hard Days Night" and "Help" were filmed, where some of the Beatles lived in London and of course, Abbey Road. Not exactly as thorough as a trip to Liverpool would be, but still interesting for even seasoned Beatles fans.
The tour is hosted by a short bloke named Richard who talks out of the side of his mouth with a very strong, Cockney-like accent which may or may not be an act, as I overheard him speaking on his mobile at the end of the tour with a remarkably different sounding voice. Anyways, it's all part of the experience, I suppose.
We started off at the Marleybone tube station, which is where the opening scenes of "A Hard Day's Night" were filmed, both outside and inside the station. From there we traversed though different neighborhoods whose names escaped me, eventually ending up in St. John's Wood. I didn't take pictures of every stop so here's a sample of what you'd see on the tour.
This is the Marleybone Register Office where Ringo Starr married Maureen Cox, and later where Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman. When Paul and Linda were married there the crowds of distraught fans were so overwhelming that they had to sneak into the building from the rear, near the kitchen and trash areas, and didn't look too pleased from the photo that Richard showed us.
This is the flat which was originally leased by Paul and Ringo, then Jimi Hendrix, and then John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who were busted here for drug possession by Scotland Yard's bully detective Norman Pilcher, and his band of corrupt cronies. Pilcher's hatred of 60s rock stars led to drugs being planted in their homes. When the fuzz showed up to bust Pilcher's latest victim, the press would "coincidentally" be nearby to capture the ruckus. Lennon insisted years later that he never had drugs in the apartment at the time. Who knows, they may have just belonged to Jimi Hendrix, who got evicted for throwing too many wild parties.
Finally, we made our way to Abbey Road. I have to say the street in person did not feel like what I had expected. What you can't see on the album cover is the intersection just before the crosswalk. London drivers are pretty ruthless (I saw a few people nearly get rundown, and I'm not exaggerating) and crossing that street while trying to have your picture taken is pretty risky. Of course, when the Beatles shot the cover that day traffic was closed.
All in all, the Beatles walking tour was a good way to get a feel for the Beatles' presence in London, and recommended for any fan. A splendid time is guaranteed for all. Here's the link for more information.