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A Shakespeare Enthusiast's Trip to England

I have been to 12 countries in my life and can't wait to see what other beauties in the world awaits me.

The House of Parliament and Big Ben.

The House of Parliament and Big Ben.

What Pushed Me to Make This Trip Happen

I was offered a chance to study abroad during one of my English classes in college. The professor hosting the trip said we were all required to take a Shakespeare class before we graduated, but we had the option of studying Shakespeare abroad with her during spring break in place of that class. I didn't hesitate to sign up, as I love to travel and to experience new things.

The knowledge I gained from my trip has helped me further educate my high school students on a personal level as they read the amazing work of William Shakespeare.

My only regret is that I didn't have more time. I would have loved to have taken my time during each of my activities and not feel so exhausted throughout the day. Nonetheless, it was impressive and exciting to have seen so much in only nine days. Here are my favorite memories from that trip.

Going to the Theatre Is Big in London

Did you know the Globe Theatre that stands today isn't the original structure? I was shocked to find out that the original burned down and was rebuilt in 1997.

My time at the Globe Theatre allowed me to gain insightful information about its history as I eagerly waited to see Francis Beaumont's play, The Knight of the Burning Pestle. This was a comedy that had me laughing so much that tears were rolling down my face. It was my favorite memory out of the trip, and I'm so jealous that going to the theatre isn't a norm in the United States.

The Globe Theatre wasn't the only place I got to see a play. I was able to take a red, double-decker bus to a small, quaint theatre on the outskirts of the city. I had tickets to see The Tempest, a comedy and tragedy by William Shakespeare. It was a phenomenal performance. I would give anything to see both of those performances again.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has many exhibitions of art and design. One room is dedicated to all things related to theatre. I was thrilled to walk around the rooms looking at which costumes were used for which plays. Even though not all were the original costumes that were worn, it was still absolutely fascinating!

I was also able to visit the National Gallery Famous Art Museum. The paintings here are exquisite! I would sit on a bench in front of the bigger paintings and scrutinize them with awe, sharing my thoughts with others around about what the artist was trying to convey.

Aside from the educational experience, it seems that there was always unique entertainment in front of the museum to piggyback off of all the tourists in the area.

King's Cross St. Pancras

King's Cross St. Pancras

A Harry Potter Enthusiast's Disappointment

Don't go to King's Cross St. Pancras if you're trying to take pictures at the station that was filmed in the Harry Potter movies! Only small elements were filmed at this station. King’s Cross St. Pancras will have a Harry Potter souvenir shop and a fake Platform 9 & 3/4 to take a picture at. It was all very touristy and not what I was expecting as a Potterhead.

Read More from WanderWisdom

There is another station called King’s Cross that is where they filmed the movies. It felt like a tragedy that I didn't have the time to find it. The locals are very friendly and willing to help, though, so don't be afraid to ask someone!

Shakespeare's home.

Shakespeare's home.

Shakespeare's home.

Shakespeare's home.

Activities in Stratford-Upon-Avon

Shakespeare's Birth Place

There was an overwhelming feeling as I walked through the streets of Stratford-Upon-Avon. This is where the greatest writer of all time once walked. It was even more overwhelming stepping foot into the home where he was born.

Our tour guide told us all about William Shakespeare's family and told us interesting facts about the home. One aspect of the tour that really fascinated me was how short the doorways and beds were. Our tour guide told us that they have come to the conclusion that people were really short during Shakespeare's time.

William Shakespeare's Grave

William Shakespeare is buried in the Church of the Holy Trinity. This site is every English major's dream, and it still leaves me speechless to this day; no words can truly describe it. I feel so grateful to have had the experience of standing in front of his grave.

The statue has a quote by Shakespeare that says, "O Noble Fool! A Worthy Fool!" from his play As You Like It

The statue has a quote by Shakespeare that says, "O Noble Fool! A Worthy Fool!" from his play As You Like It

Learning About Theatre

During my stay in Stratford-Upon-Avon, I met with historians for a class that explained everything about how theatre worked during Shakespeare's time. This class may have been boring for those who aren't Shakespeare lovers, but it was certainly a treat for an enthusiast like myself.

I particularly enjoyed how it wasn't one person lecturing the whole time. It was a small group of experts that handed out diagrams of different staging and sketches of costumes that were used for certain plays.

Scotch Egg

Scotch Egg

Other Places I Visited in England

All are stunning structures that hold so much history:

  • Saint Paul's Cathedral
  • London Tower Bridge
  • The Tower of London
  • Westminster Abbey Cathedral
  • Buckingham Palace
  • The London Eye
  • Ham House
  • King Henry VIII's Hampton Court Palace
  • Warwick Castle

Travel Tips for London

  1. Pack a small umbrella and bring it with you at all times. I went in February 2014, and it rained off and on constantly. Even if the sky is blue and it doesn't look like it is going to rain, bring it in just in case. Those clouds roll in fast!
  2. Even with an adapter many appliances like hair driers, straighteners, and curling irons most likely will not work.
  3. Try a delicious Scotch egg and the classic fish and chips.

© 2019 Jackie Zelko

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