Grand Tour of Great Britain-Stratford-Upon-Avon

It's our last day in Liverpool. Bags are in the lobby and we're very sorry to be leaving the Pullman Hotel. Breakfast buffet, again is fantastic. We can't linger, we're heading to Wales today.

Our new coach driver is Brian (also from Glasgow) and he tells us of big traffic jams because of the Hurricane. Ummm, what hurricane?

Apparently, Hurricane Ophelia is battering the Ireland and the western coastline of Wales. Oh my! After about an hour on the road we stop for coffee and I notice the blood red sun in the sky. The whole drive south, I've been noticing this really weird light outside the coach. The sun breaks through the clouds and WOW, it's really red.

The red sun phenomenon was do to the hurricane bringing Sahara sand/dust from the African coast and debris from fires in Portugal and Spain.

We arrive at the Stratford-Upon-Avon car/coach park and meet up with Roger, who will guide us around and point out all things Shakespeare.

Roger tell us that the town has about 26,500 people living in it, yet it receives over 5 million visitors each year. One of the first things he points out for us is the GEN II car. (Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang)

Our first stop is Anne Hathaway's Cottage. It is the childhood home of Shakespeare's wife. The cottage is over 600 years old and boasts beautiful gardens and orchards.

We drive out into the countryside to visit Mary Arden's Farm. Shakespeare's mother grew up here.

We circle back into town to visit Shakespeare's birthplace. The home where Master Shakespeare grew up has been hosting visitors for over 250 years. With the weird daylight provided by Hurricane Ophelia, the house looks even more realistic.

We get to tour the inside of the house and glove shop (Shakespeare's father was a glove maker.) Today, local school children are helping by sharing things about each room we visit.

To think that the Master sat here once, looking out over the gardens, it just gives me chills.

Back outside, in the courtyard you can sit and listen to some players recite from the Master's works. You can even make requests.

Again, the red sun adds to the overall effect.

Check out a sample of the performance.

Well, now we've worked up an appetite. We head to The Garrick Inn. And the skies are clearing...

I had their "Luxury Mac and Cheese" (and it truly was!) and a pot of Earl Grey tea. Heading back to the coach we take in a few more sights. The skies are clearing and the crowds are getting thicker. It's time to be on the road.

We cross into Wales and notice the road signs are in English and Welsh Gaelic.

Nick suggests a stop at Tintern Abbey.

Tintern Abbey (Welsh: Abaty Tyndyrn,) was founded by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow in 1131. Located near the village of Tintern in Monmouthshire, on the Welsh bank of the River Wye (which at this point forms the border between Monmouthshire in Wales and Gloucestershire in England.)

It was only the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales. Falling into ruin after the 'Dissolution of the Monasteries' in the 16th century, the remains were celebrated in poetry and often painted by visitors from the 18th century to the present.

In 1984, Cadw (the historic environment service of the Welsh Government and part of the Tourism and Culture group) took over responsibility for the site. The site welcomes approximately 70,000 people every year.

We finally arrive in Cardiff (Caerdydd) the capital city of Wales around 5:30 p.m.

We've drawn room 408 of the Mercure Cardiff Holland House.

We hit the nearest TESCO for beer, ginger beer and crackers and cheese for another carpet picnic in our room. We catch up on the news about the hurricane and finally find out why the sun was so red.

More photos of Shakespeare's birthplace and Tintern Abbey: CLICK HERE

Tomorrow we tour Cardiff and Cardiff Castle.

Grand Tour of Great Britain with Go Ahead Tours