Friday, August 13, 2010

Stratford Ho

What to do first:
Pick one of the hottest, humidest days of the summer to make salted caramels. About ten minutes after returning from the grocery store to buy about One Million Blueberries and exactly One Half-Pint of whipping cream, begin to make the salted caramels. After completing the first step, you will probably realize that you don't actually have any corn syrup, even though you have a perfectly clear mental image of a bottle of it sitting on your shelf. Drop everything, sigh like a martyr, and go to Polly's. Come home and finish making the caramels (be ready to do a lot of stirring and sweating). Put them in the fridge to cool and sit down for a rest.
At this point, it might be a good idea to get out the waxed paper and start cutting it up into small squares to wrap the caramels. You will probably take this quiet moment to listen to the niggling voice in the back of your head. You know, the one that's been chanting "you don't have any waxed paper" repeatedly ever since you got back from Polly's with the corn syrup.
When you look in the drawer and don't see it, DON'T PANIC. Bribe your kid to ride his bike to the store. Bribe him with caramel. It works.
Wrap the caramels and put half of them in a bag to take to your mom and dad's, who kindly booked and arranged this whole trip for you all. And who are letting you sleep in their hotel room since there...uh...wasn't any more room in the inn. (no joke!)

Remember to pack your passport, or--if your kid isn't 16 yet--her birth certificate and a photo id. Then be ready for a nice 4ish hour drive to Stratford.

Where to stay:
Your dad has probably already done this for you, but if he hasn't, book a hotel within walking distance of downtown. Just don't always believe the pictures. This was our room--or part of it, but this isn't how it was arranged. Pack in a couch, a wing backed chair, a coffee table, a TV on a stand, an oddly placed support pillar, and a tiny toilet room. You can imagine the bed in the other room, though, and put the shower room and armoire in there. Cozy it was. Very cozy.
And don't complain, not one bit. It IS a room after all, and it's downtown. And the breakfast at Joe's Diner is good--especially the oatmeal.

(photo courtesy of

Where to eat:
Eat at Raja's if you like fine Indian food. Everything is family style, and you will most likely love all the different breads (naan, roti, and something crunchy...Dad? What was it??). Also, we liked the mushroom rice, the butter chicken, and the shrimp korma. And Lauren and Mom each had a yum-o Mango Lassi. However, you should be very suspicious of something called Pickled Lime. It smells like gym shorts, it tastes like gym shorts, it looks like very old gym shorts. I don't believe there is anything related to lime in it. Its only salvation is that it is spicy, so you can pretend you're crying because of the heat, not the fact that it tastes like...well, I already said it.

(photo courtesy of

Eat at the Annex if you like yummy food. They have pizzas baked in a stone oven, and their other entrees are delicious. You may decide to try their delicious Shrimp Linguini (which is what Lauren did, but beware: you'll probably end up coveting someone else's plate) , Orange Roughy with (something something) Polenta (which looks lovely, but Dad inhaled it in half the time it took me to eat mine) , a Mango Shrimp pizza (a 10 inch-er, which mom pretty much polished off on her own whilst making some very surprising sounds), and (recommended by me and everyone else who snuck samples of the sauce--oh, the sauce!) Grilled Chicken with Roasted Tomato Goat Cheese Creamy Delicious Delight on a Plate That Needs A Lot More Sauce on It. Pretty sure that was what it was called.

(photo courtesy of

Don't eat at the Elizabethan Restaurant if you want authentic Elizabethan food. Nothing Elizabethan about it (except the creepy stairs going up to the bathroom). According to dad, the grilled cheese with bacon isn't bad, though. (eww! bacon!!)

(photo courtesy of

What to do:
Get tickets to see Peter Pan. Bring a hankie for the end and a sense of wonder for the whole thing. Be ready to laugh. Be prepared to believe in magic and mermaids, and (most importantly) in fairies. I just need to say this: there are flying people, a dancing T-Rex, a JM Barrie with a lovely Scotch accent that you might want to try to make into dessert, an enormous crocodile that EATS someone, a load of singing pirates, flying children, and at least four Lost Boys tossed down from the balcony. (Okay, that part is a bit of a fib--they're just life-size dolls--but still! tossed from the balcony! I was shocked too!)
Oh, and bring a jacket or something. Canadians like their AC a bit too much, methinks.

(photo courtesy of

Since you're there, get tickets to see The Tempest..but first make sure you have a working knowledge of the play. It helps to know who is trying to kill whom and why. And how they're all related and stuff. You can read the entire play, but it would probably be just as good to read a one or two page synopsis. But even if you don't get much of the play at all, it's still cool to see Christopher Plummer (as Prospero) stalking around the stage and wiggling his fingers and speaking with such force almost every sentence creates a subtle spit fountain.
And this play has a couple fairies too! Plus, a monster who is half-skinned muscle dude and half-reptile. And also, a fairy and some lizardy looking minions. And, since it's Shakespeare, a couple of drunks, a couple of sword fights, a shipwreck, mistaken identities, and some bawdy jokes. Oh, and also magic. We're still not sure how some of it worked...

(that's Prospero talking to Ariel)
(photo courtesy of la times)

What to do:
When you aren't watching plays, you might like to do some shopping. Just be prepared, though. Stratford has about three types of shops: (really expensive) clothing shops, Native Canadian art galleries, and book stores. If I were you, I'd skip the first two and hang out in the book stores. What's the point of anything else? Oh, and some chocolate and coffee shops. Those are always yummy.

(photo courtesy of international trading company)

If you get tired of shopping or if you run out of money, the park is free and the river is nice. There are ducks there and swans too, but watch your step.

(photo courtesy of

Where to stop on your way home:
London is only about 40 minutes from Stratford, so after you check out of your hotel, you might want to stop here. The farmers market is called Covent Garden, and the indoor section is open year-round. The sellers in the (outdoor) courtyard are friendly (desperate for a sale), and if you have a dad who has given you forty minutes to see the whole place, you might want to avoid them, especially if you're not sure you can even take heirloom tomatoes that were grown from 100 year-old seeds across the border anyway.
But still, you might want to pick up some bread or cheese or hummus. It's interesting to watch the Greek dude stretch out homemade phyllo dough with his arms glistening with oil, and the lady at the front who looks Indian? She also sells Jamaican beef patties, and you can get 20 of them for 18.99. Frozen and boxed to delight your husband's palate.

(photo courtesy of dena crain)


my2fish said...

sounds like a fun time. I thought the laws changed and you HAVE to have a passport, even for children. apparently not? interesting.

Kir said...

Any American child under 16 can travel without a passport. Since she was just with me and not Clint, I had him write a letter giving his consent--and had it notarized. But this is only for travel by land. I know, I was surprised too--and a little nervous going through both border crossings.
But yes, it was a fun time.

Anonymous said...

Dad and I had a great time also! Your blog was like I took pictures, but I did not! Wow! What a memory-hope your headache is gone!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for visiting Stratford! We love to show our guest a wonderful time! Just a few's unfortunate that you found the shops expensive--maybe you just visited the wrong ones! Most of our visitors from South of the border comment that the prices in Stratford's fabulous shops are quite reasonable for the quality and wonderful service that they offer. I hope that you have a chance to visit again and take in more than just the absolutely wonderful book shops that are in town!
Also, the reason that the theaters are kept so cool is so that the actors are kept comfortable. They wear many pounds of fabric and findings on their costumes, and often padding, masks, and makeup under lights and in vigorous conditions, as you witnessed in the wonderful production of Peter Pan!! We would rather the patrons reach for a sweater than have the actors fainting from heat exhaustion!...unless it's in the script!! ha!
Once again, thank you so much for visiting. We very much look forward to your next trip to our fabulous little city!