Visiting Shakespeare: An Odyssey Through Stratford-Upon-Avon to Hamlet’s Castle

I was heartbroken when I wasn’t allowed to tour the Globe Theater.  “There’s a show tonight,” the woman said. “Come back tomorrow.”

“But I’m only here for the day!” I said, my voice trembling, holding back tears.

She shrugged her shoulders, and continued with whatever busy work she had started. My best friend, Harriet, took some photos of me in front of the theater, but it just wasn’t the same.

ImageLuckily, Harriet knows me well, could tell I was brooding about my non-entry to Shakespeare’s theater. “You know Cher,” she said with a cheeky smile, “My house is only about an hour away from Stratford-Upon-Avon. We could go if you like.”

The gratitude welling in my eyes acted as a resounding yes.

So off we went, Cher and the Bryant women to Stratford-Upon-Avon.

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We started off with Shakespeare’s birthplace. Unfortunately we were surrounded by a group of French tweenagers, who were just plain rude. The shoved me as I tried to get my picture of Shakespeare’s first folio, quite possibly the most valuable book EVER. “Excuse-moi!” I snarled thinking you have no idea what this means to me, you little brats, but they just curled their lips and flounced away.

My anger quickly dissipated as we entered the house. We were allowed in all the rooms with the exception of the cellar, and frankly, who would want to go in there anyway.  I listened enraptured to docents explaining about the Shakespeare family’s choice of wallpaper, and the cooking tools of mama Shakespeare.

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I exited the house reluctantly, placing a few pounds in the donation till on my way out. Donate to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust if you want to make a girl like me’s dreams come true.

We left Shakespeare’s birthplace to head for his grave. We walked through a beautiful churchyard, realizing that currently there was a funeral blocking my way to the grave. How dare they. An understanding usher noticed the heartbreak on my face and said, “Don’t worry, they’ll be done in fifteen minutes,” giving me a wink.

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So we waited fifteen minutes and marched back in.

And there they were, the Shakespeare family. Poor Anne Shakespeare next to William’s, probably still cursing him after only inheriting his “second best bed.”

And there his was, my boy Will. I thought about kneeling down and saying a prayer, but realized that probably would be considered idolatry and the was a priest practicing for mass just around the corner. I instead blew him a little kiss and said “Goodbye William.”

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I flew from London to Denmark a few days later to meet another of my best friends, Olivia.  As we rode the subway, I listened jealously about how she had gone to visit the castle that in which Hamlet is set. “Yeah it was amazing. There was even a dead swan in the moat.”

I crossed my arms and sulked a minute. Hamlet was one of my literary boyfriends. How could she do this to me! “We could go there if you want. It will take the whole day but–”

“YES! Yes, I want to go. Let’s go!”

So we decided to go the following morning. But our Shakespeare activities weren’t done for the day. Olivia took me to the Royal Danish Ballet for my birthday, so we obviously saw Romeo and Juliet. My love for Mercutio was increased tenfold after that performance.

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The next morning we boarded the train for Kronborg Castle.

It was exactly what I dreamed it would be. A moat, a drawbridge, turrets, spires, and best of all casements, which we toured.

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The casements were not at all well lit. I luckily brought my iPhone so we employed my handy-dandy flashlight app. “I feel like there are Orks in here,” Olivia whispered.

“Shut up!” I said, because in that dark dripping dungeon, I was positive Hamlet’s father’s ghost was floating around me.

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