Time flies! It’s been nearly four months studying and discovering England & Scotland, at the same time it was a self-discovery journey. Before I leave the UK there is one more place I must go: Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare! The name of the town itself is charming, doesn’t need anything else to capture your attention? Does it?
I had only a few hours sleep after a party to mark the end of the course (sigh), but the excitement makes me wake up in time. Two hours after taking the train from London Marylebone station, I can finally start my day after Shakespeare footsteps.
The cold in the middle of December makes me shiver and desperately look for a place to warm up, which I find in Sheep Street. First impressions of the town, it is unbelievably beautiful and at least 800 years old! many houses of Tudor style appear as I walk, it’s magical and makes me feel as if I am living one of the plays.
Warm coffee in one hand and a carrot cake in the other, I sit by the window and start watching how people starts filling-up the streets that were empty only a few minutes ago, rain has stopped and sun is shinning, everyone is out, “Christmas presents” I think, the madness on a weekend at this time is because Christmas is fast approaching.
I study the map and mark the places I would like to see before I return to London, carefully study the route to the first place from the café, take some notes in my little notebook (like: after the roundabout turn left on Henley Street), I do that so whenever I need to check the route I only open the notebook and pretend I am reading something different than directions, without map in hand on the streets I feel less of a tourist, at least that’s what I like to think.
The first stop is Shakespeare birthplace, on Henley street, I find a small group of people at the house waiting for a kind gentleman to start the tour through the house. I am feeling now in a different dimension, I just can’t believe I am here, where such brilliant man was born and raised. Looking at all the objects in the house, I imagine little Shakespeare playing by the fire, or learning to write by the window.
The next place to see is Nash House & New Place, were Shakespeare lived for the last 19 years of his life, new images fill my mind, where he wrote those masterpieces, where he could possibly get inspiration, out in the garden, watching the stars… yeah that can be a lot of imagination but who knows? The gardens outside transport you instantly to another time, a tale of magic creatures, or sinister characters, or romantic lovers, you decide which play you want to imagine.
After dreaming in the gardens at New Place, I walk to the Holy Trinity church where Shakespeare’s remains lie. As I approach the church I hear loud and joyful bells, and wonder what is going on, until I reach the entrance and see a bride, and the bridesmaids, and everyone else, I will have to wait for a while.
I feel unease to walk around because of the graves, from where I come there is no such thing as a cemetery around churches. Shivering again and not precisely for the cold I find a cute local place for a cup of tea, just what I needed, no wonder why people here love tea that much! Now I love it too.
Once in the church I’m impressed by the exquisite art and architecture, here Shakespeare was baptized and buried, next to him, his wife Anne Hathaway is buried too, both covered by marble and flowers. At this moment I am thinking that we all will inevitably end up in a similar place as Shakespeare, but whether we leave a mark as great as his, and people travel to see where we lived and where our remains lie is totally up to us!
With this thoughts I decide to make the most of the next two hours before returning back to London. And I do what I love the most, walk! I walk along the river Avon, appreciating the beautiful surroundings, even with a greyish sky, and cold wind, even if the trees don’t have leaves, life does not stop because it is winter, nor should I.
I finally reach Bancroft Gardens, where I can seat and people watch for a while, there are statues of Shakespeare’s famous characters to contemplate once more before heading home. One last time to dream of a play, which character do you remember the most? Does what you imagined match the sculptures?
Until the next time Stratford-upon-Avon, or maybe not… for now this chapter is getting to an end, I have discovered a lot of things about myself in these four months, and the young lady who soon goes back to Peru is not the same who left, but that will be a tale for another play.
Hasta pronto! See you soon! Auf Wiedersehen! A presto! Au revoir!