Stratford-Upon-Avon: In the footsteps of Shakespeare

One summer I was bored, I impulsively jumped on a plane to London and took a train to Stratford-Upon-Avon to visit the birthplace of Shakespeare. Don’t ask me why I ended up there of all places, but my fascination of his comedies in general and Much Ado About nothing in special, might have something to do with it.

I spent almost a week in the small, cozy English village, soaking up the atmosphere, admiring the thatched houses and visiting historical buildings, like Shakespeares birthhouse and his new house as well as the house of Anne Hathaway’s parents, where Shakespeare courted his wife-to-be. A week in totall stressless harmony, engulfed in historic poetry. I even ended up having a two hour excistential conversation with a catholic priest at the local church. Quite interesting, especially me being an atheist an all, but that is a story for another time.

«10 minutes dead» – NOT my kind of snake…

Everyone who knows me knows that I am extremely cold sensitive and that I hate winter and is a constant nag back in Norway from November to March. But, the frost and the cold jave at least one major benefit; we don’t have any venomous animals. Or, we do have the Common European Adder (“huggorm”), but it is not considered to be that dangerous (but, of course, it being a snake I still don’t want an encounter with one…).

A few years back I spent some time at an orphanage in rural India. I slept fairly well on a thin mattress on the kitchen floor with, but that rapidly changed the morning a colorful snake was discovered right outside my glass-less window. When I asked if it eas dangerous, I was told in really bad English “Yes, 10 minutes dead”. Imagine hor relaxed I got when a couple of the men in the village cought the venomous monster and let it loos just across the street, like 20 m away (WTF!!!) in my opinion at least 2000 km too close.

The morning after a scorpion was found outside, so safe to say I armed myself with a pointy stick and hardly slept at all for the remainder of the stay.

Kobe Beef – A feast for the palate

I wouldn’t exactly say that we here in Norway are spoiled when it comes to beef, or food in general for that matter. That is why we went totally berserk on the food front when we were in Japan, and, besides the hours completing the marathon, where I did not manage any intake at all, I think I was more or less stuffed the whole time. To sum it up, the Japanese knows food!

We did, however, save the best for last, namely the Kobe beef, known for being the most tender beef of them all, and it certainly felt like that. It was, of course, not the cheapest thing to buy, I would guess it had a kilo price equivalent to…. let’s say gold, but, man, it was worth it… I could actually go back to Japan just for another bite.

Tokyo – Tsukiji Fish Market

The day after Tokyo Maraton, in rainy weather and with sore muscles and tons of blisters, we decided to visit the Tsukiji Fishmarket we had heard so much about. The inner marked, where they in early morning hold auctions (e.g for tuna, which is worth its weight in gold obviously) is now closed for tourists, but visiting the outer market was more than enogh.

The outer market consists of a few parallell, narrow streets with street shops and small restaurant. Our umbrellas made it a bit difficult to navigate due to space issues, but we were able to taste some of the amazing street food they were selling, while standing up and holding an umbrella and a beer at the same time.

We also tried one of the many small restaurants that seemingly was just a hole in the wall, but revealed a long, narrow restaurant once inside. Let me just say, best sushi ever!

Asakusa – Where old times keep on living

Asakusa is a district in Tokyo where you really get the feeling that time has stood still for some centuries. The neighbourhood is full of narrow streets with local shops, rickshaws and, of course, both the old Sensoji tempel and the new Tokyo Skytree.

Asakusa can easily be reach through the Metrosyste (Asakusa Station) and you can easily spend several hours just wandering around in the streets, taking in the scenery.

Tokyo – Fortune telling at Sensoji temple

While wandering about in the sacred shrine of Sensoji in Asakusa, I came across a omikuju-place. Omikuji is a strip of paper that predicts your future when you majke a prayer to the gods and Buddhas of a given temple or shrine (source: matcha-jp.com). Well, my fortune prediction was not good and it basically told me to go back to my homeland.

But, there are always ways to neutralize bad omens and I tried them all (and seemingly succeeded).

Tokyo – Sensoji Temple

Sensoji is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa and is one of Tokyo’s most colorful and popular temples (source: japan-guide.com). It is easily reachable through the metro system (Asakusa Station, exit 1), it has free admission and is well worth a couple of hours of exploring. Just a tip, though… Stay away from the Omikuji Paper Fortune if you cannot handle the outcome.. Just kidding, there are ways to neutralize any bad fortune you may be predicted.