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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Stratford, Ontario

My wife and I found Stratford, Ontario, by accident. We celebrated our 25th anniversary, some years ago, with a trip to New Brunswick. On the way back to Michigan, we drove into Stratford, looking for a night's lodging. The next day, we discovered that Stratford is a beautiful city in the summer, with flowers everywhere, and is also home to the Stratford Festival. At the time, we supposed that this, whatever it was, was a week or so of Shakespeare. It actually lasts from April through November, and includes a dozen or so plays, some by Shakespeare, some not. We went back later, with our younger daughter, and saw Camelot for the first time there. Our older daughter and son-in-law joined us for Fiddler on the Roof another year. All of us, except our grandson, had been there at least once before 2005. Now he has, too.

Some of you may have seen Renaissance Man, a movie in which Danny DeVito builds character in some army recruits by teaching them Shakespeare. Part of the movie is a visit to the Stratford Festival.

There's a lot more to Stratford than plays.

There are backstage tours and play-related seminars. There are art shows. There are flowers. Stratford, and other towns in the area, have hanging baskets on their downtown streets. Homes apparently vie with each other to have the most beautiful outdoor displays. One of our Bed & Breakfasts, the Avon and John, has outstanding grounds. (There's a small picture of them on the web page. If you go there, don't forget that prices are in Canadian money.) There's a park, a mile or so long, along the Avon River, flowing through the city, which can be walked. One year we walked it two or three days. That was the year we saw Victor Garber walking along, too. There are swans, ducks of various types, geese, and seagulls, some of these with young, swimming in, flying over, and begging along the River. There are many restaurants, bookstores, and shops in the downtown area, which is within walking distance of many B&Bs, as are the three theaters. There are three ice cream shops within a couple of blocks. Did I mention that there are flowers?

There are scenic towns nearby, too. I'll mention just one, St. Mary's.

We enjoyed Stratford, and hope to visit yet again. Thanks for reading.

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