Once we touched down in London’s Heathrow Airport at 7 a.m., I knew I was just a little bit crazy for planning a drive through the Cotswolds up to Stratford-upon-Avon for our first day in England. The thing is, minus a get away day, this first day made up 33.3% of our entire trip across the pond – and one has to be a little frantic at the point.
If you’ve read my story on driving in England (please do), then you’d know it probably wasn’t a great idea to step into a whole new world of driving right after a 1-hour nap on a transatlantic flight. To say we arrived frazzled in Stratford would be about spot on. While there seems to be always something going on in Will Shakespeare’s birthplace, it didn’t help that that weekend held serve to an outdoor market (amongst other festivities) that jammed traffic all through the major roads in town. Well, I shouldn’t say it was unfortunate, it gave us something (unplanned) to do, but obviously added to our driving woes. If that wasn’t enough, we had no change to park. I’m sure I just screamed “American tourist” while frantically going into these little shops asking if they had change for a ten pounds. Thankfully, I found the locals warm, welcoming and more than helpful.
With that, we took off through town. It was a brilliant sunny day in the land of Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello. We were almost immediately greeted by the sight of Shakespeare’s childhood home, a popular spot for pictures. Outside stood a moving Shakespeare “statue” (a trick I’ve seen before in Los Angeles, New York and Paris). Basically a guy covered in paint stands still for awhile, fakes everyone out, then moves and freaks everyone out. Always good fun.
There are many cozy little shops, from the obscure and unique to the trendy chain stores. There are plenty of places to grab fish and chips, but on this particular day the crowds made that a bit of a chore. My biggest regret in Stratford may as well been not putting up with a line and having a decent meal – but we were tired, weary and not so much hungry as thirsty and wanted to see all we could. In fact, once we did stand in line (for a milkshake), we never actually got what we ordered and left empty handed when the staff decided they didn’t actually have the ingredients available to fulfill our order!
Negatives aside, walking around the park surrounding the historic River Avon and taking in the carnival atmosphere among the unique architectural style in Stratford made for a nice first day in England. Scroll down for more photos from our day…