So this past Friday I went to the loverly Stratford-Upon-Avon aka home of my lover Shakespeare. And it was LEGEN-wait for it…and i hope your not lactose intolerant because the next word is- DARY (five points for the how i met your mother reference! anyone? just me? mmmk). So I met up with my friend Macie at the ungodly hour of 7:40 in the morning, loaded up on Starbucks, and we set out to find our bus station and embark on a three hour and forty-five minute bus ride. Let the fun begin.
Our first step of the journey to the bus station called for us to get on the tube and ride to Victoria station. I had to top up my oyster card (a pay as you go type of card instead of a tube ticket.) So I went to the little station for cards and went through the procedure and it declined my card. Oh hellz no. I tried it again and it declined it. I went to a different machine and it was there that I realized I forgot to 1) select the option to top up my card and 2) press the amount for how much I wanted to put on it. And the most smartest award goes to…. A wonderfully exciting trip was bound to happen if this is how things are starting off. The tube ride was unbearably awkward as everyone was so so super quiet and all reading the same newspaper. “The London Lite” that these annoying people hand out as you walk into the tube station. Yes I have read one before, don’t judge me. So we finally reach Victoria station and have no idea where we are going from that point. Thank the Heavens above for signs or we would never have found it.
And there we are the Victoria Coach Station. We finally find our bus and I hand the bus driver (whose name we later learn is Steve) my ticket and he says, “Ah Stratford. Goin all the way love?” To which I reply, “Yes.” And he comes back with “You must really love…uh…whatshisname…that Shakespeare guy.” To which I enthusiastically reply, “YES!” and he just laughs and rolls his eyes like, “omg what an educated nerd.” I take my ticket from him and find a seat on the bus not too far in the back but not too far in the front. I have to be a good distance between them, though not in the middle. What can I say? This educated nerd is weird. And proud of it. Moving on. Here is a picture of us on the bus.
We get on the bus and Macie and I are still pretty wired from the espresso trip we took before we left so we are chatting like fiends about such topics as what type of houses the Buckster and Richard live in. (Buckster- a cottage all decked out in Shakespeare stuff and Richard in a loft with a bed on the floor and books everywhere.) Then our bus driver, Steve, tried to KILL US by making a turn and going into the other lane which happened to be occupied by another huge-ass bus. We get to a red light and both drivers open their doors and are shouting things at each other. It was thrilling. Then we make our first stop of the journey where people get off of the bus and others get on and Steve checked on everyone to make sure they were okay and that they were wearing their seat belts which I totally wasn’t and I was instructed to put it on. Grrr. Then the best part of the trip (well…so far) happened. Stevey decided to ask the entire bus if anyone wanted to try driving “this beast” for a while. No one accepted his offer. Then he held up his bottle of coke and said, and I am not exaggerating/making this up because it is far too good for that, “Does anyone have a bottle of Bacardi to go with this Coke? I’ll totally share with the first person to give me some!!!” Yes he was totally serious. And we still had about 2:45 minutes of a bus ride to endure with this guy. ‘Twas going to be an awesome trip indeed.
Then we made another stop, then endured about two more hours on the bus. I think there is some sort of gene in my body that hates me, and doesn’t ever want me to sleep on bus rides or car rides. Unless I am seriously drugged up. On legal drugs of course. I save the illegal ones for the dorm room. Only kidding, calm down internet. Anywhore (what the buck reference!! anyone? anyone? buller??) , it was pointless for me to try since it wasn’t going to happen. I even put on soft music to fool myself into thinking I could fall asleep. No such luck. Usually I am a morning person, but I got NO sleep the night before on account of all those drugs. JKJK. I was just coughing up my lungs because I am sick. The ride did turn out to be sort of fun I suppose. Well at least for the other people watching me, because we went through this really weird patch of intense white fog. Think of that scene in The Others where Nicole Kidman is going to Church or whatever and ends up finding her husband but all this creepy white fog is happening around her. Yea, that’s what was going on here. Except we were driving and I was in the window seat and suddenly a HUGGGGE truck or bus would come out of no where and BAM! I would jump a mile high in my seat because I never saw it coming. It was a little game I played… “will Lauren get freaked out by the next vehicle to come along?” and every single blasted time I would. I bet I looked highly (interesting choice of words) amusing.
Finally, twenty hours later, we reached our destination of Stratford. Stevey just dropped us off in the middle of no where and said “have fun!” Thaaaaaanks ya wanker. (I’m in such a weird mood while writing this. Shot out goes to Britain for the excellent terminology. Wtf??) Anywhore, (nothing? really?) Mace and I go into the little information center thing and find a map and figure out our way to town. We head straight to Shake’s birthplace but along the way find a little statue/ not so creepy shrine thing for Shakes. After all, it IS his town. I mean, duh. So we stopped to take some tourist pictures that Richard would most certainly be embarrassed of. Don’t worry, we plan to put them in a scrap book and leave it for him in his office. Aren’t we terrible students? Please don’t answer that. So we pose with Hamlet (my other lover when Shakes is busy doing his play writing thing) and Lady Macbeth who totally tried to kill me, and some fat guy who I don’t think was ever in a Shakespeare play but there was a statue of him being all fat and drunk and it was too irresistible not to take a picture with him. Coincidentally I appear to be drunk as well, so at least we had fun in our short time together.
Then we made it to the birthplace of Shakes which was his childhood home. We bought tickets to go inside three of the five houses (I was overly happy about this. and two of the houses were out of town, hence the no ticket to those) and it was wonderful. We learned that you are not allowed to take pictures inside any of the houses (booo) and that when Shakes was born they wrapped him in cloth really really tightly and his mother would hang him on a hook in the kitchen to keep an eye on him while she was cooking or on a tree branch while she was gardening. And people wonder why some of the characters have issues in his plays. Next we made our way to his grave, stopping at the other two houses along the way because we ran into them. But first I have to tell you about my AMAAAAAAZING purchase, and declare my nerd status once again. Are you ready for this? Okay. I’m totally loving my new… SHAKESPEARE BOBBLEHEAD. Yes, that you read that correctly. I mean, my life is now complete because I have a Shakespeare Bobblehead. I hope that when I get married my husband will just come realize there is and will always be a slightly bigger space in my heart for Shakes. Was that a horrible thing to say? Probably.
So back to the thrilling story. On to the grave of Shakes! What? You want to hear about the other houses? Okay, they belonged to his daughter and granddaughter? Something like that. Shakes didn’t really have much to do with them, so my attention didn’t really have much to do with them. All I know is Shakes was rollin in the cash. Then we made a pit stop in a cafe and got some hot chocolate because mylanta! It was cooold outside. We walk and walk and the hot chocolate is really hot, so we take off the lids to let it cool down but then it burns my hand, so I put the lid back on and menacingly look at the cup and “dare it to spill on me again” which it doesn’t. So thoughtful. And Holy Trinity Church!! There is Shakes grave! So we make our way into the scary graveyard in front of the church and people are looking at Macie all weirdly. I mean, what is their deal! Then we find out she has spilled hot chocolate down her jacket and I didn’t even notice. So once I stop crying I’m laughing so hard, we sit down on a bench to wipe all of it off her jacket. And since we were there, we decided to just sit and people watch and drink our drinks. In the middle of a graveyard. Okay, not in the middle but at the beginning and it was not too creepy. If you don’t mind extremely old above-ground coffins. But whatever. We were laughing so much at everything and occasionally we would say something like “is it weird we are having so much fun in a graveyard?” but who cares we were having a blast.
And now I should mention I don’t believe in haunted things. Ghosts all that stuff- people coming back to get their revenge… that stuff is only real in Hamlet and no where else. For some reason I just generally don’t fall for the “scary stories” of ghosts coming back and harming people to leave their home alone or whatever. But may I just say I have never been so scared in my life as when I visited the grave of a Mr. William Shakespeare. Let me set up the scene. You had to walk into the church passing all of these old old old decaying and decrepid graves. Then you had to go to the very front of the church and pay this guy 50 pence to even see the grave. So there they are: Anne (Shake’s wife), Shakespeare, Thomas Nash (Shake’s son in law), John Hull and Susannah (John’s wife, Shake’s granddaughter). I’m snapping pics of Billys grave when I hear this muffled noise. I think nothing of it because, as you might recall, I don’t believe in haunted things. So I’m clicking away and I hear what sounds like someone buried alive, banging on something, shouting “help me.” Okay, I’m not even making this up. And I sort of froze, unsure if it was all in my head or what. So I said nothing and took another picture and I heard it again. Okay, so now I was pee-in-my-pants-scared. And I don’t ever get that scared. Ever. So I turn slowly to Macie and just look at her and she says, “Please tell me you hear that and it’s not just me” and I say, “thank God, I thought it was just me” and then we heard it again and then I took one more picture and we were out of there faster than… well think of the fastest thing you can and multiply it by twelve. Thats how fast we left. I’m still creeped out by it. We even walked around the entire church to see if they were doing construction. Yea, they weren’t. *double shiver*
Then we made our way around town and did a little shopping and I got these incredibly adorable boots that I have been wanting foreverr. Soo freaking cute. I’ll post a picture. Then we did a little more shopping and wondered around town and realized we had seen every single Shakespeare thing, gone all over town, and STILL had about an hour to kill. Because we were soooooooo freaking tired we walked back to the bus station and waited for our bus. Then we found it and the bus driver wouldn’t let us on for another 20 minutes because he was “cleaning the bus” when in reality he was smoking in the bus. LIAR!!! So we waited in the freezing cold and I took a bunch of random pictures that I will not be posting ever and finally we were allowed to get on the bus. It soon filled up way more than when we came to Stratford, so by the second stop Mace and I had to sit by each other instead of two seats to ourselves.
When we stopped in Coventry four French guys got on and because of the seating arrangement they were all forced to take end seats. Two were lucky to sit in the rows by and behind Macie and me. So we attempted the whole “sleeping on a bus thing” but we all know how well that doesn’t work out for me. So when Mace finally woke up we played a thrilling game of MASH and then I drew her portrait about three times and lets just say I should stick to teaching English. But Frenchies caught a glimpse of what I was doing, mainly because they kept staring at us. Maybe it was because we were lauhging loudly the entire time because of my horrid drawing skills. I was going to draw bald Frenchie but he kept looking at me so it would have been totally awkward. Then he started talking to us and finally just asked me to draw him. Macie was all embarrassed sort of but I was all “bfd I’ll so draw you” so I drew them together. And they managed to come out looking sort of human. I did have to label certian things in the picture like Frenchie #2’s hat, so they knew it was an actual hat and not a bad hair job. And the other guy didn’t even have hair, which I consider the ‘framework’ of the portrait, so he sort of turned out like an alien. But such is life. I signed it and titled it “Two Strangers on a Bus Ride to London” and gave it to them. Then they asked me to pose for it and who am I to deny an adoring fan? I posed and they took my picture and attempted to talk to us in broken English and they kept looking at the picture. It was all so adorable and stuff. I still don’t know there names and suppose I never will, but it was a brilliant ending to a major (again with what the buck! Im on fire!!) day. Since I posed for Frenchies it was only fair they pose for me. This was taken shortly after we all snorted a line of cocaine. OMG Internet! I’m totally kidding. It was crystal meth. I’m a total badass.