I just got back from an overnight field to Stratford upon Avon, aka Shakespeare's birthplace. It was AWESOME. I totally loved it! Okay, I'll start from the top. Monday we boarded the two hour train to Stratford. It started out pouring buckets in London and as the train moved away from London the rain become snow and we started to get a little worried about the crazy weather that might be in store for us. I did not pack warm enough for snow. It was as cold as feared but a quick stop at H & M (they're everwhere here) supplied the perfect sweatshirt to keep out the chill.
Stratford is adorable. When we got off the train we immediately saw buildings from the 1500s next to modern day buildings, all squished together. We stayed at a really nice B & B for the night. After dropping off our stuff and settling in, we ventured out to explore the town. We wound up at Shakespeare's daughter's home as well as the his granddaughter's home that used to stand next to the house that Shakespeare died in. That building was knocked over in a weird property dispute thing in the 1700s. The garden was beautiful and can only imagine how stunning it wouldbe in the spring or summer. I can say the same thing about the whole of Stratford. It must be insanely beautiful when the flowers bloom. After a bit of exploring we headed to a pub to grab a pint and some dinner. I had a MadGoose beer which is apparently brewed locally. Good friends, good food, good fun. Then it was time to get ready for the theater so we headed back to the B & B.
Then we were off to see King Lear. It was insanely good, crazy crazy good. We had pretty decent seats but at intermission my professor asked if I'd like to move down to the main floor because he found a couple of empty seats close to the stage. So I was in the heart of the action, only a few rows from the stage. The performance was so well done. The lighting and stage were perfect for adding the necessary drama. And I literally squirmed in my seat watching Gloucester "get his eyes plucked out." So gross, soo good. The acting was incredible. I could go on and on, but I'll spare you. After the performance we headed to the Dirty Duck, a local pub where the actors go after the show. My program had arranged that we be provided with food at this point and we carbo-loaded beyond limit. Yum. It was a really solid way to end the evening.
On the way back we walked through the silent streets of Stratford. It was so peaceful, so quiet. We saw stars! London tends to hide them. Who knew I'd miss stars? I'm such a country girl at heart, I was so excited to see them. The streets were completely empty so a friend and I copied that scene in The Notebook where Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams lay down in the middle of the road. No worries, completely safe (we had spotters and no cars in sight). Such a cool moment. I think somebody has a picture of the whole thing. I'll have to get a copy.
This morning we had a delicious breakfast in the B & B. Warm croissants, yogurt, toast, orange juice, YUM. Then we began the trek to Anna Hathaway's house (No, not the actress, Shakespeare's wife). It was about a mile or so away from us and so we saw a lot of suburban Stratford along the way. It was very cool and we went on a nature hike once we got there. I still can't wrap my mind around the crazy amount of history in the places we went today. Astounding. Then we headed back to town and to Shakespeare's birthplace. So many famous authors and presidents and people in general have visited this sight. Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens to name a few. We of course then had to sign the guest book ourselves, cuz who knows? We might just be famous too someday. :)
From from the birthplace we headed to the gravesite. Shakespeare is buried with a few family members in a beautiful old little church in a nook in Stratford. Shakespeare is quoted all over Stratford upon Avon. Every corner has some line written on its walls. The grave site was certainly not an exception and it was a quiet moment to sit and ponder a bit. We headed back and jumped on our train home.
I've been home for a few hours now. Made some dinner, satisfied a sweet tooth by buying some chocolate cake, and watched Sister Act II with my roommate. Certainly can't complain. I just finished writing some postcards and will head to bed soon. Class and some museum exploration tomorrow.
This trip really reinforced and reminded me of my love for Shakespeare. I was thinking about what the world would be like without Shakespeare and cannot even imagine how profound an impact one man has had on the world. Can you imagine effecting generation after generation like that in such a deep way? I certainly can't. This particular blog has been so full of exclamations of beauty and wow factor that I hardly can take myself seriously. But, for real, the past two days were wonderful and a great start to the last few weeks of my time in London.
Happy in London tonight.