arriving in the hometown of William Shakespeare
Stratford-upon-Avon Travel Blog› entry 59 of 68 › view all entries
Stratford-upon-Avon was the most amazing, quintessentially classic, English village I had seen. It was breathtaking from its black and white half-timber carpentry, to the longboats on the River Avon, to the bountiful flower boxes hung from each lamppost and storefront. Standing as a centerpiece, the ornate American Fountain, a gothic clock monument, was donated to the town by George Childs in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Also marvelous were Bancroft Gardens park by the quays and the Great Garden of the New Place with its natural serenity, flowerbeds, and fascinating sculptures.
By half-seven, I was seated in the center floor section of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre for a tremendous performance of The Winter’s Tale. With two levels of balconies above, the theater must boast a high capacity while maintaining an intimate feel. The play was a moving story and brilliantly acted. I had never read Shakespeare and so had long held the common misconception that his words would be difficult to follow. Though as it were, they were not so.
During intermission, the audience flooded the tearoom. They spilled onto the terrace overlooking the River Avon, along which 30 swans had gathered to collect gifted bread. A cordial affair, it concluded with a chime that drew us back in. At the close of the show, the ovation, though hearty, was oddly one sitting. Henceforth, I presumed the honour of rewarding a tremendous performance with a standing-O must not be a custom observed by the British.
In this village of refined tourism, the few pubs still open post curtain were dead for lack of local residents, so I opted not to stop. Though chilly my walk to the Backpackers Hostel, I awed the old city washed in light and breathed deeply the air sweetened of fragrant blossoms. I grabbed my jacket and marched the 1.5km (nearly a mile) to Tesco, a supermarket with all the selection of Wal-Mart, for food and film. Back at the hostel, I made some sandwiches in the kitchen for my solitary late night snack and then went to bed to begin a restful slumber.