What gift does this
globetrotting, travel writing grandma give her grandchildren
on their birthdays? Each year my little ones receive 'a
juicy adventure' tailored to suit their interests and
age group. I began this ritual when they were each four
years old by treating them to special activities and overnight
hotel stays in the city. Then we graduated to destinations
further a field. I believe intergenerational travel inspires
meaningful bonding experiences and to my great pleasure
the kids refer back to our excursions over and over again.
Truly, it's a gift that keeps on giving.
my girlfriends scoffed at me when I told them I was taking
Josh by train to visit Stratford, Ontario for his eighth
be tired and bored; he's too young for a lot of sightseeing
and theatre,' they said.
you keep him occupied?'
me,' I said.
about Stratford and all its diverse family-friendly offerings.
While the Stratford Shakespeare Festival bills itself
as 'North America's leading classical theatre' that is
only a part of their success story. There's a whole lot
more going on in town.
scopes out the town...
been to Stratford earlier in the month. It's a
simple place to find your way around and most
activities are in the city center within easy
walking distance of each other (basic
printable map and business directory). I confess
that if there was a Journeywoman Hospitality Award,
I'd bestow first prize to this picturesque city
set in rural Ontario close to Toronto. Stop anyone
on the street to ask for directions and they'll
go so far as to say, 'follow me,' and then take
you right where you need to be. That was my happy
experience on several occasions when I was there.
This goodwill and friendly atmosphere made my
intergenerational birthday planning extremely
easy. In one day I checked out VIA Rail
Canada train schedules, a few kid-friendly
restaurants, pinpointed all the toy stores, found
the candy shops, figured out where to see Stratford's
famous swans and decided on the best theatre experience
and accommodation for Josh's age group. Grandma
For helpful pre-planning advice of your own, Journeywoman
Stratford and Stratford
Shakespeare Festival websites.
boys and trains...
little boy doesn't love trains and train travel?
The town of Stratford and the
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
are just a two hour train ride from Toronto. There
was absolutely no time for boredom; the couple
of hours onboard just flew by. Before we left
the station VIA
Rail Canada handed Josh one of their 'keep
busy' bags filled with a book of games and activities
plus cardboard cut-outs of ready to assemble train
cars. We had a sandwich lunch from the selection
on board and then Josh was allowed to choose extra
treats from the goodies stashed in grandma's backpack.
The conductors stopped by to chat with the birthday
boy and he was emboldened to ask them train questions
as they made their rounds. We were off to a perfect
grandson and I expected to walk from the train
station to Foster's Inn where
we would be staying. We estimated a ten minute
walk at the most.
However, when we got off the train
I spotted something that would be a lot more fun.
a high-tech bicycle taxi company had a few of
their cabs parked and ready for hire. My grandson
chose pony-tailed driver, Randy who pedalled his
21-speed bike pulling our rear carriage for two
mounted on the back. It was a short $5.00 fare
but in that time Randy made a strong impression
on Josh as he explained the reasons for all the
safety gadgets on his work belt. A new super hero
was born and Josh told me he wished all taxis
were like Randy's.