This was a day Oldest and I had looked forward to for months. Not long after deciding that Scotland and Ireland would be our graduation trip destination, we also decided that we needed to do a Game of Thrones tour. In fact, I arranged our entire itinerary around this highlight.
Originally, I had thought of spending a couple of days in Belfast, because the GOT sites are all located in Northern Ireland. Between difficulty finding a direct flight between Inverness and Belfast, and planning for further destinations in southern Ireland, we ended up flying into Dublin and opting for this tour: Game of Thrones Dublin Winterfell tour – as far as I could find, the only one originating in Dublin. I promise to return to Northern Ireland and visit Belfast! This was a very difficult decision.
Oldest and I are both very big GOT fans. I initially read the books in 2007-2008, during that dark and dreary winter following the banking crisis that seemed to last a dozen years, like in the novels. Now, I am a big reader, but I am not generally a fantasy fan. While I read an average of 30-40 books a year, I have not read all of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, nor have I read all of the Harry Potter books. It’s just not my thing; I prefer historical fiction and crime/murder mysteries. In fact, I tried at least 3 different times to start the series, and couldn’t get past the first 50 pages. Eventually, though, I plowed my way through about 1/3 of the book and – ta da – I was completely hooked. Finally, after two seasons of the HBO series, I ended up re-reading all 5 books to jog my memory about the minor plot points skipped over by the TV version. That’s how much I enjoy it.
**Rant warning** Finish the d*mn books, George R.R.! **End rant warning**
So, it was quite a thrill to see the setting for Winterfell:
Dress up like a Stark:
and meet two of the beautiful dogs that played the Direwolves Summer and Greywind in the HBO series.
Our tour guide Lady Aenne was extremely knowledgeable about both the show and the settings.
She was also a FAST walker. Winter may be coming, but I was sweating my butt off, especially with the heavy Stark-esque cape I wore. I ended up carrying it for much of the walking parts of the tour.
We enjoyed lunch at The Lobster Pot in Strangford, which hosts the tour group daily with this hokey but fun drink menu:
Pretty much everyone on our bus was also a fan (there are always a few bored but willing tag-a-long partners). We played a GOT trivia game, the winner of which was crowned “King in the North”, to whom we later bent the knee and swore our fealty. Of course! Oldest and I thought we did fairly well on the 20-question quiz, but this guy was on a whole different level – he got all 20 questions right. Impressive. I swear fealty, milord.
The tour was a long day – we met at 7:45 am, and returned to Dublin right around 6:00. There was a fair amount of time on the bus, but the tour kept us entertained with behind-the-scenes videos, the trivia game, and, on the way home, the first two full episodes of GOT.
I highly recommend this tour and tour company, Game of Thrones Tours– offering the only GOT tour choice out of Dublin, literally; when I return to Northern Ireland I’ll eagerly try one of their “Iron Islands” tours from Belfast.
Next up, we will return to the 21st century and – gulp- drive on the “wrong” side of the road!