Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 14 – Tour Day: Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle & Oxford

When we first started our plans for this trip, I knew in my heart of hearts that I must go to William Shakespeare’s birthplace and home–Stratford-upon-Avon. I was an English major in college and took upper level Shakespeare classes from a world renowned professor at Colorado State University. Some semesters I lived, eat and breathed Shakespeare, so this was a dream come true.

Immediately, I knew our day was off to a right start. After our regular big English breakfast and trip on the Tube to Victoria Station to meet up with our tour bus, we had a fantastic tour guide, Ann- Marie Walker. This was our first tour day out of London and she quickly shared pertinent information about sights and streets in London as we passed–she didn’t waste a moment. We passed Harrod’s and red double-decker tour buses. Her knowledge was amazing.

Soon after leaving London and the city life, we traveled by lush green pastures fenced off with rock walls with cattle grazing and golden wheat fields.

When we arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon, we went straight to the Guild Hall where William attended classes. Emotions overcame me, and I cried–I was standing where William Shakespeare had gone to class. Ann-Marie said she wished more people enjoyed this as much as I did.

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The Guild Hall and Shakespeare’s Classroom in Stratford-upon-Avon

At the Guild Hall, we sat in on a classroom with a teacher dressed in full period garb who treated us as Shakespeare would have been treated. The grade levels were mixed and the older students helped the younger students.

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The Teacher in Shakespeare’s Classroom

We walked by where Shakespeare’s last home was, but it had been leveled.

I loved the main street, lined with hanging colorful flowers. Mimes entertained the people as the passed.

From there we went to Shakespeare’s home where he was born.

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Larada in Shakespeare’s Home

We continued our walk through downtown and what a festive atmosphere. I enjoyed one specific mime. We passed him once and then came back by–how amazing they are to stand perfectly still yet communicate with you. He and I had fun playing with each other.

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This Mime Flirted With Me!

We took a break and I had a rhubarb pastry and latte at a Cornish bakery–absolutely delicious! Lin shopped for sweets and our time ended there–my most favorite part of our trip so far!

From there we bussed to Warwick Castle, “a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warwick_Castle)

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Warwick Castle

Lin and I toured the State Rooms together, then Lin went exploring on his own. We had a limited time there and I didn’t want to rush. He towered the tower, the gaol and the dungeon. I leisurely shopped and took pictures of the courtyard and enjoyed the day.

The courtyard was brimming with people dressed in period costumes–Lin found one fair maiden.

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What a fair maiden!

Here I am outside the castle in stocks!

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In stocks for sure!

From Warwick Castle we drove through the Cotswolds to Oxford. The Cotswolds is “an area in south central England containing the Cotswold Hills, a range of rolling hills which rise from the meadows of the upper Thames to an escarpment, known as the Cotswold Edge, above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. The area is defined by the bedrock of Jurassic limestone that creates a type of grassland habitat rare in the UK and that is quarried for the golden coloured Cotswold stone.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotswolds)

We passed by fields of verdant pastures with sheep grazing and wheat fields. We saw thatched roof houses in small villages. Ann-Marie told us that the villages were expensive to live in and that thatched roofs were coming back. It was delightful afternoon’s drive where I reveled in the scenery.

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The Cotswolds

Our final stop for the day was Oxford–the city of bicycles! Ann-Marie warned us to be cautious about the bicyclists, not the drivers.

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Bikes, bikes and more bikes!

Oxford is “known worldwide as the home of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world.[9] Buildings in Oxford demonstrate notable examples of every English architectural period since the late Saxon period. Oxford is known as the “city of dreaming spires”, a term coined by poet Matthew Arnold.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford). There are 38 colleges as a part of the University of Oxford.

We toured around Christ Church, “a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ Church is a joint foundation of the college and the Cathedral of the Oxford diocese (Christ Church Cathedral and its Cathedral School), which serves as the college chapel and whose dean is ex officio the college head.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_Church,_Oxford)

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Christ Church

After our outside tour of Christ Church, we shopped and enjoyed the downtown area. Our first tour day outside of London was a smashing success. Exhausted and full of travel stories, we traveled back on the Tube to our hotel and relaxed in our room. We thoroughly enjoyed Ann-Marie and sights of the day.

Have you ever been to a place that brought you to tears? Share a comment below.

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