"The Beatles," I said with a smile.
"Oh," she said, laughing, "Big Beatles fans, are you?"
"We're on a pilgrimage," said my daughter Lauren, 14, whose wit seemed right at home in Liverpool. "This is our Graceland."
Just as Elvis fans flock to the King's Memphis mansion, Beatles devotees make the journey to Liverpool, an industrial port city on the northwest coast of England — birthplace of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
When fans first descended on the city in the '60s — at a time when band members and their families still lived here — they were regarded as a nuisance. But today they're welcomed, possibly because the generation of teenagers who first embraced the Beatles are now the city's and nation's leaders.
There is much for an avid fan to see: In 1990, a museum dedicated to the group opened; in 1994, the site of a downtown nightclub, the Cavern Club, where the Beatles often played, was excavated and redeveloped; in 1995, the McCartney home began allowing tours; and last year, Lennon's childhood home opened its doors.
Last summer, on a family vacation in England, my wife, Jane, and I rented a car in London and drove four hours north, with our daughters Lauren and Katherine, 11, and my 73-year-old mother, Gladys. Jane and I had visited the city 15 years earlier, but this was the first visit for the others.
The Beatles are special to all three generations. After their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964, my father forbade us to play their records or even use the word "Beatles" in our home. Of course, that was all it took to make me, my then-preteen sisters and even my mother lifelong, loyal fans.
After our arrival in Liverpool, it didn't take us long to find the two focal points for Beatles fans: Albert Dock, home of the Beatles Story Museum, and Mathew Street, location of the Cavern Club. Both are within easy walking distance of the Lime Street rail station and numerous hotels and restaurants.
We began at Albert Dock, a 19th century cargo handling center, which now houses two hotels, luxury apartments, restaurants and three museums.
The Beatles Story Museum gives the group's history, with a part of the museum dedicated to the Beatles' musical influences — especially American rock 'n' roll.
Thorough exhibits document the spread of Beatlemania throughout England and the U.S. and the growth of the band through the '60s. Beatles music from each period plays throughout the museum, and special exhibits focus on the solo careers of each band member.
A favorite exhibit was the white room. It's a moving and somber tribute to Lennon that features a white grand piano in a room decorated in various shades of white, matching the interior of the New York apartment where Lennon composed the song "Imagine." That recording plays continuously in the exhibit.
After visiting the museum, we bought a "ticket to ride" on Liverpool's "Magical Mystery Tour" and climbed aboard a bright yellow tour bus with about 30 other passengers. As we rumbled around the city's streets, our tour guide, Edwina Swaden, a lifelong Liverpool resident and a Beatles fan "from the beginning," entertained us with jokes and puns referring to Beatles titles and lyrics.
Our first stop, shortly after leaving the docks, was the Dingle — the inner-city neighborhood where Ringo (Richard Starkey) was born and raised. We took a short walk to see his former home and take pictures.
We moved on to Penny Lane, in a quiet suburban neighborhood — a disappointing stop. There was little to see beyond a couple of Penny Lane street signs. The fun is at the northern end of the street, where there is a pleasant neighborhood with small cafes, shops and businesses, and several landmarks mentioned in the song "Penny Lane." The bus breezed through quickly, and we decided we'd come back on our own.
We stopped for another photo op at Strawberry Field, a children's home with expansive grounds owned by the Salvation Army. The bus pulled over next to an unused gate, but all we could do was peek in, because the home is closed to the public.