7:20a Unless you want to leave the night before, 7:20 arriving at 9:37 is the best you can do for getting to Stratford-upon-Avon (almost typed "Stratford-upon-Acorn"). It's not too much of a problem but for the fact that I wanted to walk around a little before things open. We make do.
10:00a Shakespeare's Birthplace, along with the attached Shakespeare Center, opens. My travel guide says: "You can visit the bedroom where Shakespeare was born, the living room, the fully restored Tudor-style kitchen." I'm inclined to insert on the end (knowing the disposition of hard-core Shakespeare scholars and fans): "...the bed that Shakespeare was conceived on, the place where Mary Arden's water broke, the pot that Shakespeare was toilet-trained on..." Shakespeare is revered as a god to some; there's bound to be bronze plaques everywhere, commemorating where he took a piss.
I'll dispense with the negativity. I give the impression that I don't want to see any of this, and I do. Who doesn't love Shakespeare?
11:30a I've had an early day. I'll have myself an early lunch. But get this: to make it quite unique, let's get the meal a-la-carte and rent a boat. Rather than take one of the half-hour cruises on the river Avon, I'll rent a row boat (I have it on good authority that there are at least a few rental places nearby) and paddle to some secluded part of the river where I can eat and think away from the crowds.
1:00p Most everyone is still thinking about lunch, so I'll walk on over to Anne Hathaway's Cottage. This is Anne Hathaway the wife of Shakespeare we're talking about, not the Anne Hathaway that felt like she had to show her boobies in an Ang Lee film (Brokeback Mountain) just to have a serious acting career. Here, Anne lived for her early years until she married Shakespeare at age 25 (he was 18, folks).
3:00p It's a mile walk back to the remains of New Place, Shakespeare's retirement dwelling for the last six years of his life. Some nut tore the place down in the 1700s in order to avoid property taxes and the crowds that showed up at his door to see "Shakespeare's House." Yep, he's now on more than a few dirt lists. It's a good thing he's dead because someone would kill him, no doubt.
4:00p I must end the Stratford trip with a walk over to Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried. Who that spends a day all about Shakespeare can avoid looking at his famous gravestone: "Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare, To digg the dvst encloased heare. Blest be ye man yt spares thes stones, And cvrst be he yt moves my bones." (No, those aren't typos. That's how the bloke wrote it).
5:42p Catch the train back into town. I might get there in time to go by some shop, as all the museums and historical sites will have closed.
Side note: You ever wonder why we can call Shakespeare "The Bard," but nobody else seems to have a similar kind of pop-star name. Why don't we call Jane Austen "The Dame" or Charlotte Bronte "The Wench" or Oscar Wilde "The Queen"?