ALL’S WELL THAT BEGINS WELL: A DAY TRIP TO STRATFORD-UPON-AVON

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.

Yours truly, the Roady himself, in front of Shakespeare’s birthplace

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…

A rare shot of Shakespeare’s birthplace with no people in front of it!

Will himself, scaring the living you-know-what outta people…

A banner year for Stratford…I think every year is a banner year for Stratford…

Loved the buildings in town

This was the entrance to a dinner theater of sorts…

More nifty buildings in downtown Stratford

This was the “quieter” part of downtown, near the birthplace

AHHHHH! Don’t make eye contact!

So what do you do for work? I’m a Peter Rabbit Specialist, I can fill all your Peter Rabbit needs…

This door is perfect for Breeah. Me? Not so much…

Some more roundabout fun downtown

This wasn’t the first car like this we saw. The Brits are bigger gearheads than Americans, if you can believe it.

Crossing the River Avon into Stratford proper

He just needs a ridiculously huge timepiece and he’s good to go…

Plenty of people enjoying a warm Summer Saturday

Many of these longboats are used as snack “stands”, selling anything you want (drinks, candy and real, hot food).

A system of locks keeps the boats moving around the river

The balloon business is apparently booming…

Parting shot of Stratford. Shakespeare’s final resting place, Holy Trinity Church, juts out amongst the trees.

2 thoughts on “ALL’S WELL THAT BEGINS WELL: A DAY TRIP TO STRATFORD-UPON-AVON

  1. You inspired nice memories for me. I also saw the usual sights – Anne Hathaway’s house was my pick. At Shakespeare’s birthplace, the fact that stuck with me was that his father once had an appointment as the county’s quality control guy for the local brewers, which was apparently quite enviable. Although I liked Stratford, I also took a side trip over to nearby Warwick Castle, which was my favorite visit in that region.

  2. I would have loved to see both Warwick and Anne Hathaway’s home. Unfortunately we were far to rushed to do anything more than take in the general feel of the town and the general activity around the area kind of sucked us in. What’s funny is I had planned to do a more in depth Cotswolds town-to-town tour that day, but when I got on the road I was a little too uneasy to be driving and parking, driving and parking. I felt more comfortable getting to one destination…and that proved to be Stratford. I’ll post about our hotel later, a very nice Cotswold stone hotel in “obscure” Dumbleton, so we ended up getting a good fill of the Cotswolds after all, but one day isn’t really enough to appreciate it all.

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