If you plan to travel to London, try to find a couple of hours to visit the famous crosswalk outside of Abbey Road Studios. The crosswalk has become an iconic symbol of the Beatles, and was used on the cover of their Abby Road album. The cover shot was taken on Aug. 16, 1969 and took about 10 minutes to shoot with traffic blocked. You can read the full story here. In Sept., the final Beatles album was released.
Skip ahead more than 40 years and we see tourists flock to the crosswalk to follow in the Beatles’ footsteps and record their own walk of fame on their cell phones. Often, people will lay down on the crosswalk, forcing oncoming traffic to stop. As well, this is London so buses and cars drive on the left. We saw a number of near accidents when people would step onto the crosswalk, looking the wrong way for cars.
Outside of the studios, on brick and stonework, people leave their marks. They are scrubbed off regularly, but new signatures appear each day.
Around London, there is a number of places with established Beatles history that are easy to get to. You can find walking tours online, or if you want a little history along the way, organized bus tours.
The studios have an attached souvenir shop where you can pick up coffee mugs, pencils and the like. We found a small, crowded collectable store a couple of blocks away (St. Johns Wood Collectables) where there are far more interesting items for sale.
You might also want to go to the Hard Rock Cafe. This is the original one not far from Piccadilly Circus. There are the usual guitars and other memorabilia inside, but if you cross the street to their souvenir shop, ask to see the vault. Inside is more than 4 million British Pounds worth of other memories that are never put on display, like the typewritten and edited lyrics (left) to Instant Karma by John Lennon.
While you’re in London, take some time to pop over to Carnaby Street. It’s a two-minute walk from Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus. First built in 1682, it became the birthplace of Swinging London in the 1960s, the home of Mods, Skinheads, Punks and New Romantics. Carnaby is synonymous with London’s culture and lifestyle. Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor were all Carnaby Street regulars. While you’re there, we highly recommend O’Neill’s Irish Pub. Great beer and terrific food.
Did You Know?
Pick up an Oyster Card when you get to the airport, either Heathrow or Gatwick, or from any of the Tube stations. These cards are for travel on subway known as “the Tube”. There is a maximum you are charged each day, so travel as often as you like. Load the card with £20, and refresh as needed. When you leave London you can get a refund for anything you haven’t used.
For Abbey Road, take the tube to St. Johns Wood station and walk. That’s the easiest.
Paul apparently had a recurring dream about digging in the ground and finding gold coins. He interpreted that as foreshadowing the band’s success. Oddly, John had a similar dream. As well, John had recurring instances of the number 9 in his life and songwriting. You can read more in the highly entertaining book, “Haunted Rock & Roll” by Mathew Swayne.
If you would like to sharpen your knowledge of the Fab Four, you might try the book, The Beatles: The Band That Changed the World. While on Amazon, also check out Lonely Planet’s Discover London. Or if you’re in Canada, try Indigo’s Lonely Planet pages and search for the one that works for you.
Flights, Hotels and More
We’re big believers in checking several sources for flights, hotels, cars and the like. It’s amazing how different prices can be between them. For our trip to London we used Expedia and hotels.com. For other trips we’ve used Expedia, AirBnB and VRBO. We have found pros and cons for each, so take the time to check each resource before deciding what’s right for you.
To help you on your way, check out the links along the right side of the page. There you’ll find a variety of travel partners that we have used such as hotels.com, VRBO, HomeAway, Expedia and OneTravel.
We’re also big fans of Uber, so if you’re new to Uber, check out the discount code on the right side of the page under the Uber logo. You’ll get a discount on your trip for signing up. To enter the code, tap the “Payment” menu item within the Uber app, and then “Add Promo/Gift Code.” After submitting, the free credit will appear on your account, and we’ll also get a discount for helping you out.