Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Week 4: Shakespeare & Ghosts

So, as previously mentioned, I am still living in an empty apartment...which is awesome by the way. My personal items are somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic on their way to me around the 1st of May. Wonderful. Now, there is a bit of a silver lining. This not only forces me to get out and get to know the area, but also to work out at the gym around the corner. That being said, after 3 weeks, I woke up last Saturday morning and glanced at the Lonely Planet guide my parents had given me and decided that I would venture out a bit further.

I opened the page to a town called Stratford-Upon-Avon (yes that's the name of the town), which is the hometown of William Shakespeare. So, within 2 hours, I had packed, gone to the bank and gassed up the car. Within 2 more hours I was there. I quickly called one of the B&B's in the guidebook and checked in for the price of 40 GBP (i.e. ~$75) for a TINY room, but really cute and well-equipped. Now for those of you not familiar with a B&B, it truly is someone's house with various rooms you can rent. So there are en-suite rooms which have their own/attached bathroom OR there are those with unattached bathrooms, but there are also common areas shared by the owners and all of the visitors. The owner typically makes a formal English Breakfast served in a proper dining room with China and the whole bit. Very nice.

So, I spent the afternoon wandering the town with churches that are centuries old, viewing ol' Bill Shakespeare's birth and burial grounds. There is so much history in these towns its amazing. I ended up finding the Royal Shakespeare Company's Theatre and they had obstructed view tickets to the Merchant of Venice that night for just 18 GBP! SO, I figured why not and bought them. Turns out that the obstructed views seats are awesome and not very obstructued, so I saved like 20 GBP!

The following morning, after English Breakfast, I walked along the River Avon early in the morning and watched the crew teams practicing. I then hopped in the car to go on my first Castle Hunt! I am just amazed by castles. Seriously, I just can't conceive living in a castle or fighting in a medieval battle or even wearing those crazy dresses! Now let me just say that there are 2 main types of castles to see. There are the ones that want to make money by any means necessary and turn into a bit of a showy circus and then there are the English Heritage properties that are preserved as is, no frills whatsoever. Well, I saw quite the spectrum, let me say. I drove around 10 miles from Stratford-U-A to Warwick Castle. For the hefty price of 17GBP, I walked in to see the Six Flags of Medieval Castles...in other words, there were all sorts of interactive videos and displays and wax sculptures. There was a guy dressed in battle gear that was showing kids how to shoot a bow and arrow...and there was (included in my fee) a ticket to the Ghost Alive! exhibit. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm always up for a thrill...so I join in line.....

They tell us to walk up these steps and wait at the top for someone to get us. There's maybe 10 of us in the group, and we see a statue of a ghost dressed in black at the top of the steps. I, of course, whisper sarcastically to the girl next to me, 'ooh how scary, maybe it's a real ghost'. Almost on cue, the statue shrieks at us and we realize it's a real person dressed like a ghost. I'm an idiot, but what else is new. So, we go inside the exhibit, which is in one of the towers of the castle. It's really dark, we''re all crammed in and there's strobe lights all around. There's these actors who are re-enacting the murder of some guy from like the 1200's. What we don't know is there are creepy hidden actors that jump out and yell in your face from behind curtains, dooors, etc. I literally screamed like 10 x's and felt like the biggest jack-ace ever. At least everyone else got a kick out of me! I guess what I've learned is that I like thrills, but not surprises!

Anyway, that was basically Warwick Castle...so I drove over another 5-10 miles to Kenilworth Castle. This was a castle from Elizabethan times, and is in a state of ruins, but managed by the English Heritage group. They had a great guidebook that enlightened you on the history and origin of the castle and walked you through a self-guided tour...for the price of 7GBP. My other lesson learned, I don't need the extra frills when I'm viewing castles. It's just weird.

Next week includes...more language blunders and my first football experience....


Anonymous said...

Susan- Glad you got to S-u-A....been there too. I was treated to a full-on sword battle the day I was there...very frills:) Have a nice weekend- Steph

Dean said...

great pics!