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Lindsay and I rode the train to Birmingham, where we bought some roasted chestnuts and walked around a flea market before catching another train to Stratford. As soon as we checked into our Bed and Breakfast, we were off again in search of Shakespeare stuff and lunch, both of which we found. While we were walking around, randomly Pierce Brosnan walked by; he's kind of short. Right after seeing him, we came upon a pub that had been founded in 1599, and had been in business ever since; we had dinner there, and I felt compelled to have a bite of steak and ale pie, because hey, the pub was a block from Shakespeare's house and more than likely he'd had something similar there. After that, we were off to see Macbeth done by the Royal Shakespeare Company - INCREDIBLE!!! Seeing it in Edinburgh was kind of nice, but nothing compared to this. The Swan Theatre has three levels, and we were right next to one of the two musicians, so we had drums banging and bells ringing and all sorts of stuff happening! Plus, the actors were really quite good as well - much, much better than in Edinburgh.

Walking around afterwards was an experience. I'm so used to being one of the few Americans in Cardiff that I forgot what my countrymen and women were like. Personally, I saw all these American youth walking around yelling, talking about getting drunk, and generally causing a disturbance in the streets, and I felt dissappointed in them. I wanted to distance myself from that, which made me sad - I love America and I love Americans, but...not them.

And I realized that I am falling in love with this country. I swore it would never happen, and that I would always be true to the USA, but...I do love it here. It might be the people, or the atmosphere, or my close group of friends, or something specific that I lack elsewhere, but I feel like I fit in here. I feel like I'm cheating. But I could call this place home, marry a beautiful English or Welsh girl, and just not worry about anything else - power, money, prestige, fame - that I worried about in the US.

The next morning, we had a great breakfast, and then went off to see the Shakespeare houses. There are three - his Birthsite, New Place, and the house owned by his son-in-law, a doctor. New Place was actually torn down, so the house that we were in was actually the neighbor's house, which was kind of disappointing, but whatever. It was still neat! The pictures are up. It was really almost religious to be in places where he had been, in rooms where he had walked, seeing things he may have seen. I couldn't help but wonder what his childhood had been like and what he had done...

And then, in the church where he is buried, another thing happened that made me sad again. There is a sign that says no photography; I sadly obeyed. However, an American girl took a photo, and then looked around to make sure that no one saw her, even though everyone was staring. I almost went up to her and said, "You are representing your country, and everyone from it, and by taking a photograph you are doing all of us a disservice. What kind of impression do you want people to have about you and about Americans?" However, I didn't. It still made me sad, though.

After walking around, seeing things, and being finally bored by the town, Lindsay and I collected our bags and went back to Cardiff. And man alive, it was good to be home. There's nothing like being away to make you love where you live, and nothing like friends, period.


William Shakespeare's Birthplace
Me in front of Shakespeare's Birthplace
Me in front of Shakespeare's School!
The sign at Shakespeare's School
The story of the Shakespeare Mulberry Tree...
The Gardens at New Place, where Shakespeare lived after retirement.
The Steeple over Shakespeare's tomb.
A Statue of Lady Macbeth
A Statue of Hamlet
A Statue of a Jester!
A Statue of Falstaff!
Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association!
New Place!
A Statue of William Shakespeare
The Brass Rubbing Center sign!
A neat Bridge...
Graves outside of Shakespeare's Tomb.
The Swan Theatre, where we saw Macbeth!
Me on a bench.
A picture of the Bard's grave.
A Picture of the statue above his grave.