Sunday, January 25, 2009

getting it on with the Swan of Avon

Yesterday we took an amazing trip up to Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Mr. Shakespeare. Where he's burried, too, actually. And inspired by this post, I'm gonna do a show and tell.

So we got on the bus Saturday morning at around noon, which was a struggle for some of us, (like roomates who stay up till 4 am...), and then proceeded to drive two hours. Actually, we stopped halfway up to use the bathroom at what's called a "Welcome Break" which is about the size of a soocer field where you can buy snack foods, scarves, coats and KFC. very odd. Anyways, hopped back on the bus and drove for another hour until we got here,This is Anne Hathaway's house- wifey to Shakespeare, and in my opinion, one of the first famous-because-I married-someone-famous celebrities out there. Anyways, it was a lovely cottage, but you had to pay to go in, and since we only had 30 min, we crossed the street (as Ian is doing here), to the little green.

Complete with ducks. And even though there were no leaves on the trees (illusive as it may seem, it is still winter here), everything was still really green, so it was really pretty. And the town was lovely too, with it's little houses and narrow roads. (I seriously thought we were gonna run someone over everytime we turned a courner, but the other cars were so obliging, they just drove up on the sidewalk for us, without so much as a honk. We continued driving until we got into the town of Stratford.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it's really a sweet little town. A cross between the Old Quebec City and Whistler BC. There are lots of little shops and everyone bustles about, but somehow it's not as hectic as London.Once we got off the bus, I went straight to the church were Shakespeare was burried– I wanted to get there before the sun went down.
It's a little outside of the town, though not by much in an old church next to the river, Avon. It a really beautiful old building. It's not very tall but manages to really make an impression on you, (my kind of church!).

Although the door looks huge from here, it's actually a very short enterance, one even I had to bend down to go through. Inside it's full of lovely stain glass windows and beautifully polished wood. The front part I believe is still used for service- not sure though- and the back is as close as you can get to a shrine dedicated to a man as you can get in the house of God. It's really moving though. My flatmate Leanna said she saw this guy fall down on his knees and start weeping in front of it, which is a but much for me, but I'm glad I went.

What's almost as cool though, was the cemetary outside. This is really unusual that I like it, because ordinarily I hate cemetaries, and anything to do with them. But there was something about these tombstones that was so stately and serene, I felt really peaceful here. The picture is my attempt at something artsy, but really it was really beautiful. And with all the thick trees, I felt like I was in a small forrest, which was a nice change of pace from the grey business that it London.

After we saw the church, people wanted to eat, but I was still interested in walking around. I explored the town a little bit, and started on a scavenger hunt to find all the shops that incorporated a Shakespearian characters's name. Here's a selection.

If you do go eat there though, this is the place to do so. It's a little restaurant frequented by the majority of the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Co) theater people. And actually, I believe it's owned by Judi Dench... not sure about that though. The kick is, the other side of the sign reads The Black Swan- so it looks a bit more respectable coming from that side. I was really amused by that. Takes you back to HC Anderson's story, doesn't it?

Then after, it was dark which meant showtime! We saw Romeo and Juliet, which at first I was a little dubious about, having seen it so much it gets kind of cliché. But in the end I was not disspointed. Actually, I changed my mind within the first three lines of the show. Basically the director wanted to remind audiences that balcony scenes aside, the play is really a life or death matter. He also set it in pre WWII Verona, which meant switchblades and fedoras galore. Incidentally it also meant several hot men, which pleased my and my friend Anna, (left) greatly.

And that really is it. After the show, we pilled on the bus, stopped again at Welcome Break, and got home at one a.m. where I promptly fell asleep. The End.

And because I can't resist:
It's the Swan of Avon!!

and I just thought this was funny...


  1. You and I have had very different experiences of Stratford. When I was there, it rained so much it soaked through my umbrella, and we had far too much time for such a tiny town, and were thoroughly bored :( But isn't the Dirty Duck amazing?

  2. wow. I envy you and all the culture you're getting!