Stratford-upon-Avon, situated on the river Avon in the English county of Warwickshire, is decidedly an idyllic town. Best known to be the birthplace and hometown of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon is a town where time meanders slowly, cut off from the cantankerous spirit of a bustling city. As you enter this town’s winding little streets you will notice that Shakespeare still continues to dominate the place. The five Bard-linked properties: Shakespeare’s birthplace ( image below), Nash’s house, Hall’s Croft, New Place and Anne Hathway (Shakespeare’s wife) Cottage remains the heart of this town and it continues to draw travelers from all over UK and world even now.

Shakespeare's House UK attractions

Our first stop was Henley Street, where stands the famous landmark—Shakespeare’s birth house. It is quite easy to spot the house. Among the plethora of new age shops, tiny, intimate cafes and teahouses stands a half timber house where Shakespeare was born and brought up along with his brothers and sisters. As you enter the house, you will first notice a hall of fame which includes names like Judi Dench, Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart and former Doctor Who David Tennant, all of whom have enjoyed acclaim in Shakespearean roles at Stratford in addition to their on-screen stardom.

In the Courtyard, between the reception centre and the House, you would see costumed actors performing snippets from some of the best-known plays. The managers who run the show today have made quite an effort to retain the authenticity of the house; you will notice how the parlour, the hall, Shakespeare’s dad’s workshop and bed chamber are furnished as they might have looked in 1574 (unfortunately, there is a no photography policy). An exhibition runs which tells us about the times gone by and explains how part of the house became a public house in 1601. My favourite bit of the house? A literary graffiti featuring autographs of literary gems like Ivanhoe’s writer Walter Scott’s signature. This, I thought truly made the house a literature haven.

stratford-upon-Avon UK attractions

UK attractions Stratford-Upon-Avon

From here, we headed towards the Holy trinity Church in-between stopping at the Stratford Upon Avon Canal, which was built between 1793 and 1816. A spot to enjoy some peace and quiet, the Canal does not offer much except wind-swept trees looking rather stupendous in twilight, clear water, panoramic view of the town and a peaceful silence to keep you for company.

The Church and the canal is separated by an intimate garden. A gurgling stream giving out a beautiful reflection of the Church, evening winter mist hanging around its vicinity and tall, almost kissing trees on both sides gives this place an almost eerie feeling but it somehow added to its uninhibited, natural charm.

UK attractions travel

Holy Trinity Church UK travel attractions

The Holy Trinity Church also popularly called Shakespeare’s Church is the place where Shakespeare is buried. The Church has an attractive approach; with its pathway lined by trees that represent the tribes of Israel and the 12 Apostles. Holy Trinity Church was one of the first churches in England where an admission fee was charged; even in 1906 visitors were asked to pay six pence each to enter.

Shakespeare, apparently died on his 52nd birthday of a fever which was said at the time to have been the result of a ‘merry meeting’ with fellow poets Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton. It is believed they all drank too much in that meeting.

Holy Trinity Church, UK attractions

As night was falling rapidly, we decided to call it a day and started our way back home but we walked past the old town briefly stopping before Hall’s Croft formerly the home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susannah and her husband Doctor John Hall. This White painted carved house lends the street a dignified character; it also feels that the place is slightly struck in a time warp with vintage style houses flanking its sides. Wondering how Shakespeare’s lineage ended? The death of childless Elizabeth (his granddaughter) in 1670 brought Shakespeare’s direct line of descent to an end.

UK travel attractions

Stratford-Upon-Avon is a town steeped in history, natural beauty, legacy and literature. It is also the town where theatre continues to mushroom. The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) runs four theatres here: the Courtyard theatre, the Royal Shakespeare theatre, the Swan theatre and the other place. Unfortunately, because of time constraint we couldn’t experience the theatre scene but that gives me a reason to go back.

Today’s guest post comes from KC Owens, who is a college student.  KC loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about. His post is about backpacking and he offers some great advice to adventurous travelers . Over to you KC.

While many people think life at college is all fun and parties, there are also many challenges like studying, bills and team sports that cause stress. One way I try to find some relief from the stress is by using my time off to travel. The great part about college life is that we get a lot of vacation time in-between semesters. Traveling can be expensive, but that’s why I do as much research as I can to find ways to save money on travel.

Funding your Vacation:
Having a job while at college can be difficult but it can save you money in the long run. I always work when I’m at school because it gives me the opportunity to save money for my overseas adventures. Sometimes, this part-time job does not fund my wallet as much as I plan so I have to get creative. After doing some research, I found that I was able to apply for a student credit card that could help me purchase tickets, overnights and meals while I’m abroad. Many credit cards are available to students at special rates, and they are not very strict at all about accepting you. Applying for a credit card may not be the right choice for you so be sure to research your options before making a decision.
Personally, it was a no brainer because my card allowed me to bounce from country to country without exchanging currencies too often. This can be a major inconvenience as well as a major expense. Each time you exchange your cash, you are charged. It also helped keep me safer because I wasn’t pulling out a wad of cash every time I bought something. This can be dangerous in foreign cities where pickpocketing is a major issue. Do your research to see if this could be a viable option for you.

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How to Carry Everything:
Aside from not packing too much, another important consideration is your actual backpack. Your best choice is a lightweight, efficient backpack. Don’t bring several bags of luggage, which will require your attention at all times. Having more than one bag makes you a target for theft, it will cost you more at airports and it will annoy you every step throughout your journey. Even luggage on wheels is of limited usefulness once you get off the plane. A solid backpack allows you to hike, explore city streets or even tour a city on a bicycle. Furthermore, having one bag allows you to lock your belongings while you’re sleeping. This peace of mind is worth anything while you’re traveling since you always have to be on guard for theft.



How to Pack:
Packing is an art that you really need to master if you’re going to go backpacking. Traveling light is a must or you will find yourself lugging around heavy and awkward bags everywhere you go. I learned from experience that the less I take with me, the more comfortable I am.
If your luggage weighs much more than ten pounds, you are probably over-packing. This might seem extreme, but the truth is you really don’t need to take much when you backpack through another country. Focus on bringing items that are practical and light. Leave home hardcover books, heavy boots, sporting equipment and other stuff that you think might be fun to take with you but that you will never use. A good rule to follow is that if you’re not sure you will need something, you probably don’t!

The most important item I bring with me on a backpacking trip is a money belt. Now, it seems foolish but having this little pouch allows me to secure my passport, phone/camera, cash and credit cards without worrying about pickpockets. Many places, like South Africa, don’t use credit cards as often as many other countries but it’s important to protect your valuables, either way. If you’re heading to some place like South Africa, then you’ll want to keep more cash on you and safely tucked away in your belt. Beyond the money belt, I always pack a couple pairs of clothes, toiletries, a chamois to dry off with, power converters, my phone/camera and a good pair of sunglasses. Everything else will seem useless when your time is spent sightseeing.

Picture credit: KC Owens