Last month I went to Liverpool, London and the Netherlands. I have reported about Liverpool and London in the past, and so I am not sure if anyone wants the whole "what I did on my summer vacation" to those places again. I can tell you that I had an amazing time. We celebrated Paul's 75th birthday with a bus load of likeminded fans in Liverpool, went to the Whirral, spent time in the Cavern Club and the typical Beatles sites. In London we crossed Abbey Road, went into the Abbey Road shop, had lunch with a Beatles friend, went on a great Beatles tour and got to go inside of 3 Savile row.
The last part of our trip took us to Amsterdam and since it was a new experience, I thought I would share a little bit about Beatles traveling in Holland.
The Netherlands is a very small country, especially if you are from the United States. We stayed in Amsterdam, but I am pretty sure we saw the entire country. It was fairly easy to get around in Amsterdam because they had a tram that you rode around the city. As long as you knew where you were going once you got off the tram, you were all set.
Everyone in Amsterdam rides a bike. I have not been a bike since I was a kid. Here in the United States, bikes are sort of thought of as a child's toy and is not a major mode of transportation for most adults. There were bikes everywhere and they seem to have more rights than people walking. Just something to remember if you are ever in Amsterdam.
There are a lot of museums in Amsterdam, but the only one that we went to was the Anne Franke House. If you are ever in Holland, you must see the Anne Frank House. It is an unforgettable experience.
If you are a Beatles fan in Amsterdam you have to go to the Amsterdam Hilton, right? The outside of the hotel looks very much like it does in the photographs of the hotel from the 1969 Bedin. I am told that room 702 is decorated in John and Yoko decor. I tried to get into the room myself. It costs over $1000 a night to stay there, so that was out of the question. I went to the front desk and asked the woman there and she told me that they were too busy at the time to take guests up to the suite, but I could come back at 11pm. It just wasn't possible for me to return so late. I asked her if I could just go up to the door. To use the life, you have to have a keycard. She again told me no and so I left the Amsterdam Hilton with some disappointment.
Speaking of hotels, there was a record shop near ours that had a big Sgt. Pepper display in the front window. Look what was #2 that week! Who would have ever thought that the Beatles would be back on the charts after 50 years!
Something else we did that had a Beatles connection was go on a canal boat ride. As I am sure you recall, the Beatles (without Ringo) did this in 1964 when they were on their world tour. It was fun to imagine the streets and bridges filled with fans as we took our one hour boat trip around the canals.
We also made a visit to Alkmaar. Alkmaar is a quick train trip from Amsterdam--about 30 minutes. Here is my advise if you want to go to Alkmaar from Amsterdam. Don't use the ticket machines at the Central Station. Go to a live person and purchase your ticket. The machines are for people with the "Dutch card," which if you are from the Netherlands, you don't have.
Why did we go to Alkmaar? It wasn't for the cheese---it was for the Beatles museum! There is a large Beatles museum in Alkmaar. Once you leave the train station, look for blue signs that say "Beatles museum" and follow them across a bridge and you are there.
The Beatles Museum is the personal collection of the fan that runs that place. I was impressed by how organized it was. Everything is laid out by album. So anything that has to do with " With the Beatles" is grouped together, etc. There is just so much original Beatles memorabilia to look at. If you go, plan on spending well over an hour to look at everything. "Let it Be" was showing on a big screen in the back and there was a lot of stuff for sale, including a great selection of "Dutch imports" (which aren't imports since they are in Holland! I got a good laugh out of that). My only issue with the museum is that a few of the items on display there (Ringo's Abbey road jacket, Paul's Shea Stadium jacket and George's first guitar to name a few) were labeled as being the original, when I am certain that they are reproductions.
The last day we were in the Netherlands, we spent on a tour with Guus and Gabreilla of Beatles International. They couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. They drove us all around Holland and we saw Beatles things along the way as well as plenty of wooden clogs and windmills. We went to Blokker and saw where the Beatles (again without Ringo) performed in 1964. They have a monument build to honor this occasion of the Beatles' performance.
Another one of the really amazing sites we saw was the WWII memorial where Alan Williams took the Beatles right before they went to Hamburg as well as the store where John stole the harmonica.
The trip ended to a visit to a Beatle friend, Ed's house. Ed is one of the co-writer of the A is for Apple series, which I contributed to. It is great to meet Beatles people in person after knowing of them online for so long. Ed has a great Beatles collection and it was a real treat to see it in person.
As you can see, the Netherlands has a lot to offer Beatle fans. I know it isn't on the top of the list like Liverpool or London, but I think it is well worth the time to go and check out these sites as well.