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What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The North Remembers January 12, 2018

This is, as promised, the post of the great Game of Thrones adventure in Northern Ireland.

As a Game of Thrones fan, I must warn you there are some spoilers. Not anything super recent, and I’ll try not to be a butt about it. But if you’re hardcore and haven’t finished last season—which you should, because damn—don’t read this post. Click follow on the blog and pick up next time when I tell you why I had the best day of my life while wearing a Viking helmet, or maybe why the real Titanic museum is less depressing then all the others I’ve visited.

So, the husband and I were determined to see some Game of Thrones magic while in Ireland. We tried to find some on our own with reasonable success. There are a ton of day-long Game of Thrones tours you can book, and a ton of them have great reviews. But with only two weeks in Ireland, we were a little hesitant.

Then we realized we were going to be in Belfast in Easter when basically everything (including most restaurants) was going to be closed. So we booked a full day Game of Thrones bus tour that promised a real lunch stop.

I was little hesitant about spending a full day on a bus with strangers, but it was great!

First off, the drive along the Northern coast was magnificent!

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Our first stop was basically at an Irish 7-Eleven right next to the water, but going down into that water was the steps where Ayra Stark hauled herself up after being stabbed by the creepy faceless girl! Also, there was a plaque for a war hero pigeon. Because…normal.

 

That cave where Melissandre gave birth to the shadow monster? It’s actually someone’s driveway! In order to get to the building—I think it was a convent—you have to drive through this cave and go through a huge gate. I don’t think the shadow monster made it into the convent, but the cave was cool.

We visited this stand of trees, known as the Dark Hedges, which was shown for all of five seconds on GoT but has brought in tons of other film companies to use these exact trees.

 

One or two of the big trees fell down the winter before we visited, and instead of just chopping the downed trees up, they carved them into GoT-themed doors and distributed them to different places that rely on Game of Thrones fan traffic for money. Pubs, hotels, restaurants, the series is supporting all sorts of business in Northern Ireland. And that was the coolest thing about the tour.

Northern Ireland wasn’t a huge film location, or really a film location at all, until Game of Thrones came to town. Now not only do they have a thriving film industry, but also a solid tourism industry based on their film industry. And that’s amazing! A country that well within my lifetime was still being rocked by the violence and chaos of “The Troubles” is now a place booming with people who want to peacefully enjoy their countryside. Money is flowing in, and that’s so necessary to recovery. And I loved Northern Ireland. The food was great, the scenery unparalleled, and the people were wonderful.

Our guide said that more than a tip, which of course we gave him anyway, he wanted all of us to go home and tell everyone how much we loved Northern Ireland. How safe and easy the travel is. How exceptional the country and the people are. More than a tip, they need the world to know that The Troubles are over and that they are a booming country with so much to offer the world. And I can’t help but agree. And I can’t wait to make my way back to the wonderful northern shores.

 

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