My first trip this year was a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s home town. His work featured heavily in my high school career so it had been on my radar to pay his birthplace a visit. I found cheap rail tickets in January at £10 return to go in February. Perfect right? Well that was about the only thing I got right.
Stratford-upon-Avon is roughly 2 hours away from London. Not far but not exactly close. I woke up the morning of my trip not really feeling like going. I’ve never really experienced this. I am always up for exploring a new place, but I didn’t this day. I didn’t feel like taking the almost hour journey to Marylebone station and then another 2 plus hour train ride. However I had already booked my tickets so I made myself go. I shouldn’t have.
The weather for the day was around 13. Not freezing cold but very brisk. I arrived in Stratford around 1:00 pm. I made my way to the tourist office to figure out my plan of attack. My train back to London left at 8:20 pm so I had plenty of time to explore. I never take tour buses, it has just never been my thing. This time I decided to try it out. I had some time before my bus made its way around to the beginning of the route so I explored the nearby Bancroft Gardens.
There are 5 houses related to Shakespeare and all are taken care of by the Shakespeare’s birthplace trust. While Stratford-upon-Avon is relatively small and very walkable 2 of the houses are not located in the town centre. The tour bus brings you around the town and out to these houses so I opted for the bus. The good thing about the bus is you can hop on and off for 24 hours on one ticket. The bad thing for me was the service was reduced as it was on a winter schedule and ended at 3:00 pm with that being the last trip around. So I only had the opportunity to hop off once and get back on. I stayed the whole journey which meant I didn’t explore the houses outside of town centre.
I enjoyed the tour and learned a lot not only about Shakespeare and his family but also about the time in which he lived. The entire route is roughly an hour. After that I went to Shakespeare’s house. I made it in time as the last intake was at 4:00 pm with the house closing at 5:00 pm. Good thing is your ticket is good for 12 months, bad thing for me was I entered just as a large school group had as well. The ticket also gets you into 2 other properties but they also closed at 5:00.
As I left the house at closing it was then that it started to rain. I wasn’t prepared because I believed the BBC which said that there wasn’t supposed to be rain that day. Silly me. I headed to a coffee shop to pass some time where it would hopefully let up and I could explore a bit more. It didn’t. By this time it was already getting dark and the coffee shop was closing at 6.
My options for what else to do were limited. I could have a meal but I wasn’t hungry and since it was dark and chilly out sitting in the park wouldn’t work either. I didn’t want to stay for another 2 hours so in the end I bought another ticket at £24.90 to get back to London early.
My cheap day trip out ended up costing almost £50. Failure, but lesson learned. If I had bothered to check closing times and the bus touring schedule I probably would have opted to skip. Sometimes cancelling is the best option. Overall the day wasn’t bad but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I know I could. I can’t give a fair review of the town based on the this day so I will go again..when it’s warm.