[Admin] Is There A Travel Agent In The House?

So, the good news is that my upcoming trip to London / Stratford Upon Avon is starting to come together. The first thing I did was to book a nice AirBNB in SUA.  The plan is to arrive there on Monday, stay until Thursday, when we’ll head into London and spend about a week before returning to the US. I haven’t booked the flight yet but I’ve been assuming we’ll fly into Heathrow.

Here’s the catch. I knew that London and SUA were “about 2-3 hours apart”, which is the primary reason we’re splitting up the trip.  But now I’m hearing things like “switch trains 3 times” and “takes over 4 hours”, not to mention train tickets costing over $100 each.  I had not anticipated this little wrinkle.

The good folks on Twitter have been trying to help, offering all manner of suggestions “you could go here here and here, or you could go here, switch, then go here…” and honestly it’s all Greek to me.

What I’m hoping is that some of my readers are local and familiar with the area and the options and can say, for a family of five who’ll be traveling with luggage and just gotten off a red-eye flight from the US (figure arriving in London around 11 am, judging by the flight scheduled), what’s the best way to get to SUA?  Renting my own car is not an option, I’ve never been out of the US and won’t give myself a crash (ha!) course in driving on the other side of the road. But can we hire a car?  Is that something Uber (or equivalent) could handle?  Is there a bus? Where would I make reservations for these things?

Thanks for the help!  I’m putting faith in the universe that everything works out and we have the trip of a lifetime, but I’ve got to make sure that the details like this get worked out.  I can’t relax and plan the fun stuff until the necessary stuff is taken care of — get to country (flight), get to hotel 1 (SUA), get to hotel 2 (London), get home.


One thought on “[Admin] Is There A Travel Agent In The House?

  1. Hello, a Shakespeare lover and resident of Oxford here. You’re probably already in the UK and have found a solution, but just in case not:

    If money is not a huge concern, you can book a car/van online to take you from the airport to your lodgings. Not sure about the cost, but a friend was driven from Heathrow to Glyndebourne last summer, and she didn’t mention how much it cost, so it probably wasn’t too steep, though I’d imagine you’ll pay couple of hundred for a family of five. If you don’t want to spend a lot, you can travel by train fairly easily, and it will be a lot cheaper.

    Trains to Stratford go from London Marylebone station; typically you have to change once, and depending which train you catch, the journey will take two to two and a half hours. Children of certain age travel for free, and you can buy family tickets; a return for the same journey will cost 10p. Getting to Marylebone is the bit that will take the most effort. You can alternatively take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington (slightly on the expensive side, but fast and comfortable, and there’s probably a family ticket you can buy) and then catch the Bakerloo Line underground to Marylebone. Alternatively you can catch Piccadilly Line underground, travel to Piccadilly Circus and change to Bakerloo Line there. If you buy an Oystercard (and if you’re staying a week in London, you should), this will cost you £3.10. On the Piccadilly Line it will take about an hour to reach Marylebone, in addition to the travel time onwards. Depending on the day of the week and time of the day, the car from Heathrow to Stratford may not actually be a whole lot faster. Accounting for airport formalities, never mind which option you choose, you’ll get to Stratford probably no earlier than 4-5pm if your flight arrives 11am.

    I hope you enjoy your visit! Stratford probably gives different people different things, but it sparked no particular feeling of awe in me – I found it overproduced and often contrived. The birth house is a heritage centre, and the way it’s designed is for people to not to spend more than couple of hours at most there. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is a nice example of an English farm of its periord, but my visit was completely ruined by a horrid, overenthusiastic tour guide, which was a sort of recurring theme – there were all these Bard impersonators guffaffing around, and some of them were very insistent that you stop and listen to their performance; it doesn’t necessarily give a lot of space for your own reflection. The place for that is perhaps the church where Shakespeare is buried. It continues to be an active parish church, so it lacks some of the more garish aspects of the Shakespeare industry. The absolute best thing you can do is to see a play at the RSC; the theatre is stunning, and the quality of their productions is extremely high. To me it’s where Shakespeare really lives.

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