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Guest: An American Student in London Part 2
An American Student in London
Down the Rabbit Hole and Across the Pond
Part 2

Story and photographs by Stephanie Keats

The Birthplace of Shakespeare... and the Teletubbies

the writer in Stratford

ne of the perks of going to an overpriced institution of higher learning like USC and going abroad is that they organize free trips for you to go on so you can ďexperienceĒ more of the UK. Dr. John Sharkey is the guy who organizes all of this for us. He pretty much gets paid to take college students around the UK, spend as much of USCís money as possible, and make sure we donít fuck up too badly. So Friday I traveled to Stratford-upon-Avon for my all inclusive weekend of fun. I left Friday afternoon and met up with my sorority sister, Katherine, at the Marylebone train station where we took the 5:30 to Stratford-upon-Avon. Whatís so special about Stratford you ask? Well, for starters, itís the birthplace of Shakespeare. And thatís about it. Unless you count it as also being the birthplace of the Teletubbies. BIG bragging rights with that one. So why did I chose Stratford over the other two trips (the Scottish Highlands and Newcastle)? Well mostly because it was the one I was supposed to choose. I am a theatre major, and therefore required to worship William Shakespeare. I was going to have to make the pilgrimage to Stratford eventually and figured I might as well do it for free.

Stratford memorial and the Avon River
Left: Memorial celebrating 800 years of being a town. Right: The Avon River

oldest pub in Stratford
The oldest pub in Stratford

The train ride took about 2.5 hours and when we got there we made the short walk to the B&B we were staying at. It was adorable. Wayyyy nicer than my room at school and with a very comfy bed too. I shared it with Katherine and another girl who had been on the train with us. Soon after checking in we all met downstairs for the meal of the night. After the meal we went to the “oldest pub in Stratford” and then headed back to the inn. The next morning we all awoke at around 9:00 and went down for a home cooked English breakfast. Beans, toast, eggs, sausage, and coffee. Yum. At around 9:30 we finished breakfast, and then promptly realized we still had another hour and a half before out tour. So I went back to sleep. Our tour of the town started at 11:00 and we were taken to some of the most memorable sights of the city. We visited the grave of William Shakespeare and a couple of the theatres in the town. We also saw some of the places he had lived and studied. There were also a lot of swans. Be careful, they can break a man’s arm with their beak. The tour guide also pointed out the building where the lady who invented Teletubbies lived. That was thrilling.

writer's room at the Lindhill Inn
Our room at the Lindhill Inn

statue of William Shakespeare and window of church where he was buried
Left: Statue of William Shakespeare. Right: Window from the church where Shakespeare is buried.

place where Shakespeare's house used to be
The place where a house once stood that Shakespeare lived in

Shakespeare's grave
Grave of Shakespeare

a collection of Shakespeare's works
The first folio (collection of Shakespeare's works)

where the Teletubbies where born
Where the Teletubbies were born

After the tour we pretty much had 4 hours to do as we pleased, so after grabbing our allotted 10 pounds for lunch from John, we all headed our separate ways. We and a few other people went to lunch at a pub. Katherine and I shared a plate of Nachos. Not the same. Not the same at all. It was my first foray into Mexican here and it was kind of a mistake. Still, it was only 2 pounds. After we finished we headed to one of the museums in town: the Birthplace of Shakespeare. We bought the season pass ticket, which was good for all 5 of the museums for a whole year. Why do this if we were only going to be there another 24 hours? Because John said USC would reimburse it as part of the trip and hey, who knows, I might end up in Stratford again. The exhibit was pretty interesting and we learned a lot about Shakespeare’s home life. Did you know his father was a glove maker? Well he was. We got to tour the house, which was full of furniture from the time period. After the birthplace a couple people in my group wanted to go to the Hathaway Cottage, which was the house his wife, Ann Hathaway, lived in before they were married. This sounded nice, so I thought, hey, why not? Well let me tell you why not. As soon as we exited the birth place it started pouring rain. My boots are in serious disrepair and I desperately need new ones. This resulted in some very wet socks. The cottage is also a mile away from the center of town. A fact someone neglected to tell me. On top of that, there isn’t actually much there. Sure it’s pretty, but there really isn’t a whole lot to see. After trekking a mile in the pouring rain, we spent a total of about 20 minutes there, before starting to go a mile back towards town. Thank god it had stopped raining by that point. I was not the happiest camper I have to admit.

birthplace of Shakespeare
Birthplace of Shakespeare

sign on road leading to Anne Hathaway's cottage

the Hathaway cottage
The Hathaway Cottage

bed in the Hathaway cottage
Bed in the Hathaway Cottage

For dinner we went to this Indian restaurant in the center of town. I don’t even like Indian food and usually I just get naan, but since USC was footing the bill I figured why not, go crazy! So I ordered a diet coke, lamb samosa, garlic naan, and chicken korma. The samosa was pretty good and the naan was DELICIOUS. One of the best I’ve had here. The chicken korma was ok, not something I’d seek out, but since I had to choose something it was a decent choice. After dinner we made our way to the theatre to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform “King Lear.” The actors were phenomenal. They really played the roles well. That being said, I was bored out of my mind. I am a theatre major and I wanted to gouge my eyes out. The play is sooooo long and sooooo depressing. I found it hard to stay awake. There was also some weird WWI influence going on. Like half of the costumes were medieval and the other half were from WWI. I was so confused. After the play we went back to the inn to get some sleep since we were taking a 10:00 train back to London.

The boys came back from their journey to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Berlin last night so I got to hear lots of good stories today. For those of you worried about my partying and drinking during reading week, let me tell you, it was NOTHING compared to these boys. However, I do have, Belgian chocolate now, so all in all I’d say everyone wins.

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FEEDBACK FOR PATTI

I enjoy your newsletters -and particularly Patti Nickell's article about the 'Pudding Club' in the Cotswold's. An old friend of mine is taking a holiday there this year and plans to try their Jam Roly Poly and Spotted Dick - amongst many!

--- John & Maggie - UK

FEEDBACK FOR JULIO

The way I read this article, you stayed at the "Breeze and Waves". Do you have any pictures of the cottages, and would you recommend to some first time visitors to Caramoan?

--- Richard Simons, Stockton, CA

Hi Richard,

Breeze and Waves was still under construction when I stayed there in Feb. 2010. It should be finished by now. You can see pictures of the resort on this page. We got to stay in one of the small cottages in the picture. I'll recommend it to budget travelers but you might want to look at other options. We chose it because of its location right by the beach. You can try other resorts in the Caramoan town proper (you have to get a ride to get to the beach and the jump-off point to go island-hopping but it's a relatively short distance). There are also two higher end resorts located on a cove and very near the islands: Gota Village Resort (unfortunately there is something wrong with their website right now) and its twin resort Hunongan Cove. Caramoan is a relatively new tourism development so resorts are just now being built.

You can go to this site for a good list of choices for accommodations in Caramoan.

I should add that it might be good to go to Caramoan (and almost anywhere in the Philippines) during the dry season from December to May. June to November are the typhoon months and sometimes typhoons will still come during early December.

Julio

* * * * *

Hi, I'm planning to go to Caramoan this coming May. Would you know the number of Breeze and Waves Cottages? Thanks!

--- Ann, Manila, Philippines

Hi Ann,

Breeze and Waves' phone number is 0908-2911072. Look for Freddie. Hope you have a grand time at Caramoan!

Julio

FEEDBACK FOR WENDY

For Nature's Playground: The South Island of New Zealand

Hi Wendy,

In winter, Heritage Heights Apts. now offers free shuttle service to and from Queenstown 24/7 to guests without cars. We own a 7-passenger 4-wd Toyota Highlander used specifically to taxi guests up and down the hill during winter months. We also run advance purchase winter promotions which include a 4-wd rental.

If any of your readers head over this direction, I will enjoy extending Heritage Heights hospitality!!

Cheers

--- Ailey, Owner, Queenstown, NZ

* * * * *

New Zealand text and pix top drawer! Almost as good as making the trip. ( but one still wants to. . . ) Full of useful detail. Only trouble with the website: It's tough figuring out which feedback goes with which article, and the more there are, the tougher it gets!

--- Ken W., Camarillo CA

Thanks Ken..."álmost" is right, you really have to experience the South Island firsthand. Granted this piece is long, but still all I can think about is how much I left out! I agree abut the relevancy factor re the feedback--it can be confusing...sometimes I have a "Wait a minute...what?" moment myself.

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

* * * * *

Okay Wendy, from now on whenever you book your travel, please reserve space for me. I will carry your luggage, bring you cold drinks, massage your shoulders, and change the film in your camera (oops, I guess you don't have to do that anymore). Wonderful ideas and recommendations. Can you get to New Zealand from Boston in less than a week?

--- Carl A., South Easton, MA

Ha ha ha Carl, you're quite the comedian! But you'd be surprised how short that flight feels. I suspect Qantas isn't the only airline who's figured out that 3 movies, 2 full meals, lots of snacks and a complimentary travel pack (eye mask, warm socks and neck pillow) equals a quiet, well-behaved cabin. It really isn't bad. Just fly direct--pick the shortest flight w/ no lengthy layovers and you'll be fine. Re: signing on as my Super Sherpa...why not? I think you know I seldom travel in anything less than Party mode. There's just that pesky background check...

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

For Excellence Riviera Cancun:

Wendy, I truly enjoyed your info especially since we leave in a week to celebrate my 50th Birthday. Was it necessary to make reservations at the restaurants? Was there a dress code for the restaurants? What would you recommend not missing while there? Was the spa experience worth it? Did you travel away from the resort while there? Thanks,

--- Kim P. Fuquay, Varina, NC

Hi Kim.

Sorry for the delay in responding...you had heavy competition with the holidays. Reservations at Excellence restaurants are not necessary and you will not find a wait. The dress code is basically no bathing suits and flip-flops...with a decided a mix of atmospheres. Mostly the open-air beachside spots are super casual, the rest slightly more formal. Truly, as long as you are clothed, I don't think you'd be turned away anywhere, though most people seemed to enjoy dressing up at night...I suspect more for their own pleasure than any sense of decorum.

The spa experience was worth it, though my favorite part wasn't the actual massage. The precursor was a 45 min. or so rotation from sauna to a series of (kind of wild) water jets which was very different and very cool, not just for women. In its' entirety, and with the serenity of the beach/champagne/strawberries, it was memorable.

We did not travel away from the hotel this trip, but the hotel is very helpful in arranging day excursions to fit your desires and you do not have to book these until you arrive.

Have a great time!

--- Wendy

FEEDBACK FOR NINO

I enjoyed Nino's contribution, since we all read about the frightening terrorist attack. Having travelled somewhat through India years ago, I am continually impressed with this country and the gentle spiritual aspects of this nation. Some day I look forward to going back. Nino has encouraged me. Thank you!

--- Yoka Y., Westlake Village, CA

FEEDBACK FOR RUSH & CHUCK

Dear Mr.s/counselors Brown and Koro,

Thank you for a very informed and succinct article on motorcycle accidents and the law. It inspired me to think about getting a motorcycle, but not have an accident. But, if I do I am now well informed with the basics of what to do providing I do not perish in the accident. Any tips about that too?

--- Unnamed

Dear Rush and Chuck,

I wish I had read your article before our camping trip the Friday prior to President's Day.

My wife and I were in a car accident on our way to a camp ground. We were "rear-ended" and the impact caused our car to crash into the car in front of us. The contents of the truck that we were riding scattered onto several lanes. It's a miracle our two dogs decided to stay inside the car. My wife and I were shaken up badly but despite the mess, I was still able to walk out of the car. I got the license plate of the driver in front of me but, to my surprise, after reviewing the little damage on his car, he then sped off. I didn't know you could do that! The driver who hit me from behind gave me his information and then he too left the scene without saying good 'bye. When the police arrived all I had to go by was the little information I had jotted down which I hope was truthful. What if it was bogus? What if I had written the plate number incorrectly? How would that affect my insurance? What if we were unconscious, who would have written down all that information?

I do have one suggestion if you are injured in an accident. The police asked if my wife wanted an ambulance to bring her to the hospital but we declined the offer. I remembered when I rode an ambulance years ago that it was not a comfortable ride. I was strapped to the stretcher and there were all sorts of medical equipment dangling noisily above me. As long as you are able, it is a more relaxful ride inside a car. Besides, isn't there a fee for ambulance service?

--- Dave S. of Pasadena, CA



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