I woke up in darkness, not really sure of the time, but it must be 9 am because that’s what I had set my alarm to. Still drowsy from sleep, but rapidly giddy with excitement, I draw the heavy curtains to the side and peek out to the sunlit streets of Stratford-upon-Avon. A knock – my breakfast is waiting at the door. That’s how you start the day!
Why Stratford-upon-Avon is Always a Good Idea
On a whim, I had come over to Stratford-upon-Avon. But to be fair, I just love it too much to miss an opportunity when it presents itself. I had come over to attend the WTM in London but what are a few days more in England when you can walk in the steps of one of the greatest playwrights that roamed the earth? 2016 being the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, I had already paid my tribute in spring on a big Shakespeare tour across England to honour the bard. But now it was autumn, so it was totally different and I just HAD to return, right?
I was to take it slow, I told myself. But who was I kidding? After feasting on my breakfast in bed – composed of all the nice things I got to choose from the menu – I ran across the street from my lovely hotel, The Arden. From my earlier stay at the exact same hotel (it is that good, I had to return), I knew that the ticket office and RSC theatre was right in front of me and within minutes I was the proud owner of a ticket to tonight’s showing.
The Rover was on and I had never heard of it before, but the RSC had my unwavering trust and ready to please the Shakespeare fangirl within me, my first agenda of the day was to roam through the grounds of the Trinity Church – the church were Shakespeare was married and buried – and then walk over to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. It was only thirty minutes away and led me through Stratford-upon-Avon’s backyards and suburbs.
Cottages, Tea Time and Weird Apples
Quaint English houses in mock-Tudor styles and with tree-lined front lawns greeted me and made me forget the clouds that had come to roll in. I was decided on having a blast of a day, no matter what. Past old pubs and through city parks covered in colourful autumn leaves, I danced along streams until I saw the iconic thatched roofs of the Hathaway family home. It used to be just a small farming house until Anne’s older brother bought the house and enlarged it.
Crooked walls, worm eaten chairs and scratched porcelain – Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is truly an outstanding historical place. The wealth of preserved pieces certainly matched the wealth of knowledge of the guides within. I saw the infamous ‘second best bed’ (or what is rumoured to be it), which was willed to Anne after Shakespeare’s death. Also, I learned why that was not as offensive as it seems (she automatically got her legal share no matter what was in the will).Then, I walked on the exact stones Shakespeare once stood on. I even found out how to prepare a special kind of apple – which was a staple then – I found during my visit to the Kyffhäuser. That’s why I love travel so much – you always go full circle.
After a refreshing walk back to town, I made myself comfortable underneath the roof of the Anne Hathaway Tearooms, the oldest in town. Looking out into the streets through stained windows I sipped my English tea as I waited for my sandwiches and cakes to be brought on a pearly white three-tiered tray for my Tea Time – a must when in England! I could almost imagine dining here during Shakespeare’s time, the Tudor house was still in pretty amazing shape and remained true to its architectural roots.
Ending the Night the only Acceptable Way in Stratford-upon-Avon
It was time to walk back to town as I had reserved a dinner table at the Stratford Hotel. I did not want to miss the play later on even though the restaurant was only a 15-minute walk away from the theatre. Finally I was to take it slow after chasing so many planes, trains and busses to get to Stratford-upon-Avon. The restaurant was classy and the staff absolutely lovely.
Do I even need to mention the food? I had a fresh market soup of the day and pumpkin ravioli. They looked instagram-worthy, and both were so delectable and plenty that I honestly had no more space for dessert. That pained me a little (as did my full tummy – note to self: don’t have Tea Time three hours before dinner time), but I was grateful for the walk back to my hotel so I could burn a few calories and drop off my bags.
Across the street I went to the RSC and suddenly was standing in a Spanish courtyard. The stage builders had outdone themselves and planted balconies, lights and stairs in the theatre. On my last theatre tour, I had learned that for each and every play the whole stage is rebuilt – including the floor tiles. So many actors even say the Swan Theatre is the best theatre they have ever played on. That counts for something! The show was spectacular – and it wasn’t even a Shakespeare play. So if you get a chance, just get a ticket to anything that’s on.
So Should You Visit Stratford-upon-Avon?
Heck, yes! Why wouldn’t you? If you are a Shakespeare fan, I don’t need to convince you. There is so much to learn about the famous playwright, about life in the 16th and 17th century and British theatre. You’ll be entertained easily. You can also have quick visits to nearby cities, such as Bath, Warwick or the Cotswolds (more on that soon). If you come to visit, stay for at least a night to treat yourself and enjoy the whole package!
The Arden Hotel
Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BA
Website | +44 1789 298682
Holy Trinity Church
Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BG
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
Cottage Ln, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 9HH, Vereinigtes Königreich
Website | +44 1789 338532
Quills Restaurant and The Stratford
Arden Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6QQ
Website | +44 1789 271000
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Waterside, Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6YF
Website | +44 1789 403493
I would like to thank The Arden Hotel, Shakespeare’s England, Anne Hathaway Tea Rooms and The Stratford for having me. As always, my opinion remains my own.