Second Class Blog Post:
Our day in Stratford was very pleasant. The weather was gorgeous and the town was quaint. My first stop was the public library, which is actually a Carnegie Library. The library’s exterior matches the look and feel of the town with its Tudor style. The interior of the library is another story, as its presentation was more akin to a bookstore’s layout with its book displays, bright signs, and modern shelving, furniture, and technology (self-service checkout). The juxtaposition of the contemporary interior fixtures to the Tudor style building boggles the mind a bit.
I did notice some other differences between this library and ones in America in terms of service and conditions. Each book was equipped with a clear vinyl dust jacket to protect the book. The book sizes in the UK seem to be more regular (with minor variances) than American books. From our range of mass markets (I didn’t notice any there) to regular paperbacks to hardcovers in any range of shape and size, it would be quite a feat to find appropriate vinyl dust jackets. Though they have a self-service checkout, the books are still manually stamped with due dates. I wish that I did more investigation into this set-up because in my experience (like at Richland Library), self checkout generally produces printed due date slips instead of requiring stamped due dates. I had not thought about this quandary at the time. What is travel without a little bit of regret?
I was also baffled to realize that this library charged to lend its DVDs and CDs, which I thought extremely odd at the time. I guess that I’ve been quite blessed by Columbia’s lovely libraries that lend me a plethora of Edward Norton films at no additional charge. After, I did recollect that DVDs do have a relatively low fee to borrow back in Hawaii. I guess that there is no hard and fast rule in regards to DVD and/or CD lending. It just depends on the institution.
We strolled up, down, and around Henley Street where we saw the exterior of William Shakespeare’s birthplace, which is adjacent to a beautiful rose garden. On our way down to the river, I noticed a really cute 1940s-themed tea shop that I wish I visited. I was not particularly in the mood for tea, but a 1940’s tea shop? That would have been a unique experience. More travel regrets. We did direct a couple of classmates there later, so at least others got to experience it!
We took a boat tour on the Avon river. I wish that the tour included a spoken portion that explained some of the history of the town or significant landmarks, but it was still a nice chance to sit in the sunshine and see the town from a different perspective. It was a good forty minute rest for my ankle, to boot. I was utterly taken by the houses on the riverside. I saw some beautiful Tudor style houses with gloriously lush gardens. Dream houses!
We took a walk along the river side where we saw a couple making out (don’t worry, I did not manage or attempt a stealthy photo). That was quite a dose of excessive PDA. It is quite surprising how many couples openly make out in England than back home. PDA normally does not bother me because people should be allowed to express themselves, but this particular couple was a bit over the top. I wonder what informs this type of social behavior. Maybe the romantic atmosphere of Shakespeare’s town influenced them or perhaps the size and busyness of London (in other examples) provide couples with a feeling of anonymity that I do not notice back home.
The walk took us towards the church where Shakespeare is buried. We paid 50 pence to actually see the tomb. I would say that it was a decent 50 pence spent.
We headed back to Henley Street to grab dinner at The Food of Love Restaurant. I finally got to try a full English breakfast, which I did not love or hate. It was tasty, but not my favorite thing to eat. There was quite a lot of food too!
We headed our way towards the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre where we saw Henry IV Part I. I have to admit that I am not a Shakespeare fanatic. Consider that fact coupled with my dinner and you can imagine the sleepiness I fought the whole play. I may or may not have nodded off at one point, which is definitely not a testament to the actors, play, or production. The actors were fabulous and they truly conveyed the comedic undertones of the play. I really wish that I was more awake to fully appreciate their talented acting. More travel regrets!
After the play, it took about 2 and some hours to get back to the dorms on the coach. We got back after 1 am, so you can imagine the fatigue. I truly enjoyed the day as I hobbled my way around Straford-upon-Avon. Overall, it was a great experience.
As always, stay cool, friends!