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Published: June 24th 2019
It is Saturday morning, we have just left our hotel for the drive to Stratford on Avon and our visit to the land of Shakespeare. I sit here with some sadness. First one of our travelers, Alan, has elected to stay behind for a few extra days in York. He has some friends who live here so he plans to visit with them and enjoy more of what York has to offer.
During our travels I bonded with him, a selfless man, with a sense of humor. I enjoyed his company, our discussions and, of course, the new love he has found for a good single malt scotch. When next I raise my glass, it will be in tribute to you. Stay well, I hope we meet again, the gods willing.
We have done and seen so much on this journey. Our tour guide, our coach driver, and all the travelers have become a family. And like a family we laugh, we share, and we help each other. But, also like a family, we must soon part and go our separate ways, much the better for the experience. I hope for all of you continued health, happiness, and may
your love for travel be shared with others wherever you may roam. Think of Cathy and I on your next journey as I promise to do the same.
The weather has finally broken, the sun has arrived, and the temperature allows me to leave my jacket on the bus. Our afternoon stop, Stratford will have special meaning for Cathy as she teaches Shakespeare in school. I am sure my camera will be working overtime.
Our first stop today was a double photo stop. We drove to Stratford on Avon and stopped at the home of Anne Hathaway. Not being too bright, I was wondering why Anne was going to allow us into her home. After all, she is a movie star and I am sure she values her privacy.
Turns out that's the wrong Anne Hathaway. This one was married to William Shakespeare , so it made more sense that we should visit, I was sure she wasn't home anyway.
The second photo stop was across the street. We were directed to a set of risers upon which we stood according to height. Short in front, medium height second row center, tall ones on the outside.
Guess where I stood? The photographer snapped two quick shots and we were shuffled off the risers so the next tour could get the shot. What a racket! The good news was our “family photo" was a gift compliments of Trafalgar. THANKS.
It was a few minutes to noon and our scheduled time to visit the childhood home of the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. I am told Bill’s dad was a big wig in the town serving as alderman and owning a business so he had a few bucks, unlike his dead beat son who died close to penniless.
The home was well preserved and accurate as they did have the city records from the time of Shakespeare, so it was kinda cool to walk the stone interior floors where Shakespeare lived as a child. When his father died, he inherited the home. He chose to share the dwelling with his sister. She and her husband and four children had one room with a hearth, no chimney to manage the smoke, and only a dirt floor. They were also granted a small bedroom upstairs shared by all six. The Bard and his wife shared the remaining nine rooms.
Nice guy Bill.
Of course in pure Disney fashion, the tour of the home ended through the gift shop. Here one was ex- posed to everything Shakespeare. Cathy bought a few things for school as she teaches a bit about Shakespeare so it seemed appropriate.
While she was shopping, I struck up a conversation with the ice cream vendor. Figuring he was local, and with the streets crowded from end to end with tourists, I sought a local pub within which to dine. I asked him where he would go and he quickly directed me down the street and across the road to One Hickory Pub.
Cathy, Leonore, Sonya, and I followed the directions given and came to a beautiful local pub. It was virtually empty as tourists do not seem to venture far off the crowded path. Following the ice cream man’s directions we walked in, went to the back of the pub, through a door to the garden, and sat at a lovely table in the shade and enjoyed the scenery.
When our waitress came, I ordered a local ale, Cathy a still water and the others a cider. Now, for the food itself,
I read the menu but nothing struck me. The best I could do was a choice between a cheese toastie, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, or a burger. Then it hit me, why not both?
I asked our waitress if I could invent a meal not on the menu. She looked at me oddly, but I pressed on, asking if I could combine the cheese toasted with a burger. Looking perplexed, she said she would check with the kitchen. A moment later she returned with a positive response and Cathy and Leonore joined me on the new Farina Sandwich soon to be featured on their new menu. NICE.
We enjoyed a very relaxing meal in the warm sunshine surrounded by locals. We told stories, laughed and generally enjoyed our last vacation lunch. Soon it was time to go as we had to be back on the coach at 2 PM, giving us just 30 minutes to shop the tourist traps . (We actually had quite a lot of free time, but we spent much of it eating.) We managed to do some damage as we marched and shopped up one side and down the other, arriving at our coach just in time to depart for the last leg of our journey, London.
Due to a little traffic we arrived later than planned, but we had plenty of time to get to the hotel, shower and dress for our last event, Pleasant Laughter with Andrew Scott at the Old Vic Theater.
The evening air was beautiful, so we decided to walk to the theater and eat dinner along the way. I went to the concierge and wanted a map showing the best walking route to the theater. Note to self: Londoners have no idea where they are, have no idea how to get some place, can not give directions out of a paper bag, and their maps are wrong. Other than that, no problem. Let me explain.
When I stopped at the concierge to ask how far to the Old Vic, he had no idea. It took two people to figure it out. Once we had the destination set, they pulled out a map and drew the best route. It seemed simple enough, go right out the hotel, go up Latham Road to Kennington, left on to Westminster and another left on to Waterloo right to the theater. Total distance under a mile. Easy peasy.
Not so in real life. We followed the map details to the letter. We were even on the correct roads, but what was planned to be a right was actually a left and a left was actually a right. We found ourselves completely lost, so we stopped a local and asked if he knew where the theater was. He said yes and gave us directions to turn around as we somehow walked in the completely wrong direction. I was suspicious so I decided to ask again.
Thoroughly confused, we asked a door man at the Hilton for directions. He had no idea at all. The better part of valor said get a cab, so we did. Our driver was not sure where it was either, but a few turns and 5 pounds later we arrived at the theater in plenty of time.
We walked passed the theater and stopped at Olivelli for dinner. I enjoyed a fine pesto pasta and Cathy a pizza. We left the restaurant and set off for the theater a few doors away.
We had great seats, third row, center floor section. Our view was as good as the play. Cathy adores Andrew Scott, so it was a special thrill for her. The play was superb, a Noel Coward comedy. After the play, we went to the stage door and had a photo taken with Andrew. The perfect ending to the perfect vacation.
All too soon, it was time for bed. The journey home begins tomorrow.
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