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A beautiful historic town in the heart of The Midlands
Stratford-upon-Avon in General
Member Name: i_am_joy
Stratford-upon-Avon in General
Advantages: A beautiful town in general, lots to do and see
Disadvantages: Not the cheapest tourist spot to visit
Surely one of the most popular tourist hot spots of the Midlands is Stratford Upon Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare. I myself have visited the area numerous times, the most recent being a few weeks ago when my sister and I decided to make the most of an unseasonably warm early April.
The first thing most people will want to see is the beautiful River Avon which runs right through the wonderfully sleepy town of Stratford, it's amazingly natural yet remains stunningly beautiful. All I can say is that whoever maintains this particular stretch of the river is a master of his art as it looks like it has never been touched by human hands, yet there is no sign of overgrowth or littering whatsoever.
You can walk for miles along the Avon, or do the sensible thing and hire one of the small boats instead to save your legs. There are various people offering their fleets of boats for a reasonable price, from memory the cheapest is around £13 for an hour but this can rise fairly steeply depending on the size of boat you require and also how far along the river you stop off to hire it. Personally I usually use the guy who is situated on the riverbank opposite the McDonalds end of the high street as although he is not the cheapest, his boats are reliable and very well maintained.
There are lots of historical sites in Stratford Upon Avon too, the most famous being The Swan Theatre which is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. This is obviously a working theatre so plays are staged here on a daily/nightly basis although you are usually welcome to go and have a look around, but this depends on what the theatre has planned on any specific day. There is also the opportunity to tour the house William Shakespeare was born in and also the home of his mistress, Anne Hathaway although these attractions can be awkward for disabled visitors as they are both obviously extremely old properties and built well before the times of stair lifts and ramps!
Should you decide you want to spend more than a day in Stratford Upon Avon there are various places to stay, ranging from basic B&B's to posh hotels with a price tag to match. If you are planning your visit during the peak tourist season then I do recommend booking in advance as this is an extremely popular area and beds get taken up very quickly, although I believe there are several campsites in the area if tents and cold showers are more your thing!
Eating is varied and surprisingly reasonably priced in Stratford, there is everything from McDonalds to classy restaurants and chippys to Indian take aways. There is even an excellent 'Baguette Barge' which is, you've guessed it, a barge moored up on the river bank which sells the most wonderful baguettes. Slightly pricier than nipping into the pub for your lunchtime baguette but certainly worth every penny, I had a bacon and brie one last time which was delicious and kept me feeling full up for hours it was so large and well filled.
Stratford Upon Avon is one of those places where there is a pub on every corner yet the area never seems to become rowdy and the atmosphere around town is playful and serene. I adore spending time in Stratford as it's one of the very few places nowadays where I feel safe and comfortable walking alone even at night, of course there are always going to be youths hanging around in the evening but who cares about that really as long as they're not causing trouble and behaving themselves.
I cannot recommend the beautiful Stratford Upon Avon highly enough; it's very easily accessible by car or public transport and there is something for everyone in this wonderfully historic little town.
Summary: The birthplace of The Bard.