Game of Thrones tour – Dubrovnik (Kings Landing)

Quick disclaimer: there may be a few spoilers dotted around this post so if you haven’t caught up totally on the seasons yet then tread carefully!

The stars of the seven kingdoms aligned for me (mixed in with a little bit of careful planning) and I was in Dubrovnik the weekend that the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones Season 8 came out. I woke up early Tuesday morning and manoeuvred my way around the city till I could find a spot clearly visible in the programme. I felt like I had stepped into my screen and was watching all the drama unfold from within the walls of Kings Landing. Luckily though my biggest threat of attack came from a pigeon eyeing up my croissant not a fire breathing dragon! I was brought back to reality however when I learnt from the lovely Laura at LauraOverThinksIt that all of those scenes in Season 8 were actually filmed on a replica set built in Dublin, not actually in the streets of Dubrovnik. The smug look on my face dropped quicker than Little Fingers at Arya’s trial in Winterfell and I felt weirdly hard done by but as soon as the bells started ringing out across Dubrovnik the magic was restored.

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Although those specific scenes in Season 8 weren’t filmed in Dubrovnik, plenty of other incredible moments from Seasons 1-7 all took place within the walls of the old city. In order to see as much of it as I could, I decided to go on a Game of Thrones tour. There are hundreds of tours that take place throughout the city, but I chose to go on the one organised by the tourist office at the entrance to Pile Gate. It cost 150 Kuna (about £17) and lasted 2 hours. I bought tickets from the office on the day that I wanted to go and then simply met up with the group outside the large Amerling fountain 10 minutes before it was meant to set off.

TOP TIP: If you walk the City Walls, anytime up to 3 days before the GOT tour, then included in your ticket for that is an entrance ticket to the Fort. You go to the Fort as part of the GOT tour and entrance is 50 Kuna but if you have a city walls ticket then you can use that and get in for free.

We were guided around by the incredibly bubbly and knowledgeable Ivana, who said that she regrettably turned down a role to be an extra in the first season of GOT, and started our tour by the ‘docks of Kings Landing’. The stunning pier protruding from the base of Fort Lovrjenac (also known as the Red Keep) is the spot of many famous scenes like when Jamie returned to King’s Landing with Myrcellas’s body and Robert Baratheon’ bastard kids were killed. It was incredible to look out over “Blackwater Bay’ and see exactly what the actors and actresses saw when filming, but the highlight of this area for me came from a stranger in my tour. On this particular day it was raining cats and dogs (actually more like lions and wolves) which had caused the sea to be dangerously choppy. As a massive wave crashed over the pier and soaked everyone on it, a man from the back shouted, “WATER IS COMING!” I will be totally honest and say I nearly peed a bit laughing so hard.

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One thing I came to love and loathe about Dubrovnik was the number of stairs it had; the true test of my thighs however came when we had to climb up to the Fort Lovrjenac. After a few moments to catch our breath, and once we had gone through the ticket barriers where my top tip comes in handy, we entered into the iconic “Red Keep”. Some really notable Lanister scenes took place here such as Joffrey’s Nameday Tournament and Cersei and Littlefingers debate about what “Power” is. An aspect of the tour that I really enjoyed was that Ivana would hold up pictures from the programme in each area we visited so we could see exactly how it matched up in real life and what they edited in or out of the scenes. The fort itself was quite bare but it did have spectacular views of back over the city walls. After talking us through the Game of Thrones scenes as well as a bit of history about the fort itself, Ivana gave us enough time to take those all-important photos before heading back down the stairs to the old town.

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On the walk back Ivana told us stories of how the cast used to mingle amongst locals and that apparently Tyrion Lannister drank as much in real life as he did on screen. Things like that made me really glad I went on an actual tour instead of following an online route as the guides had so many personal stories about the series. Once inside the walls of the city we momentarily stopped at the entrance to Pile Gate, as a lot of the riot scenes from Season 2 were filmed here, before going to the most iconic place of all. The Walk of Shame steps. I think it is one of the most memorable scenes in the whole programme and seeing as it was raining, we were lucky enough to have the place to ourselves. Ivana filled us in on plenty of interesting trivia about how many extras they needed for the filming of this scene and that it originally was meant to be filmed outside the Dubrovnik Cathedral, but the Priests denied them access once they learnt Cersei would be naked. I can imagine it would’ve been an incredible sight to film looking out on over 2000 extras and it was a great experience to stand at the top put yourself in Cersei’s shoes. I can’t say that anyone stripped down to their birthday suit on my tour thankfully.

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There were some areas that we didn’t cover on the tour however such as the Spice King’s Palace in Quarth, as it is inside the Rectors Palace that requires an entry ticket, or the House of the Undying which is situated on the City Walls but Ivana did point them all out to us in case we wanted to go back and visit them another day. The tour concluded in a souvenir shop, nestled amongst the maze-like streets of the city. It contained a replica of the Iron Throne and as part of our tour we were allowed to take photos on it. If you’re not on a tour you can still use it but you have to make a purchase in the shop first. I think this was the most underwhelming part of the tour as the throne was just cramped into the corner of the shop and I found it almost awkward to take a photo on when the shop was busy but still a good memory to keep!

TOP TIP: I learnt at a later date that there is actually a better throne that you can sit on for free on Lokrum Island and it has more space around it rather than being cramped in a shop.

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I know that tours aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and there are a tonne of free online resources, such as blog posts, that I think would be another great way to take in all the Game of Thrones sights but I just personally wanted to do a tour. I didn’t have to worry about getting lost or missing anything and hearing Ivana’s personal stories of how much of an effect the GOT franchise has had on Dubrovnik and its residence really made the whole thing special. Since the series began, tourism has increased in Dubrovnik by 30% and it appears everywhere you turn either in souvenirs or themed dishes in restaurants. Being taken round by someone who has come face to face with the cast and seen the enthusiasm for the show grow over the years made the whole thing a lot more personal and I also enjoyed how she dropped in facts about the history of the city as well.

Every sign across the town states that they are offering the “best Game of Thrones tour ever” and I am sure, with a bit more extensive research, you could discover which one of them was actually telling the truth but I chose to just go with what the city offered and I am really glad I did. I shamefully descended the stairs like Cersei, looked longingly across Blackwater Bay like Sansa and eventually left feeling like Varys – knowing everything that goes on behind the scenes of Kings Landing.

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Crafty Creatives Subscription review

FullSizeRender-1After a long day of university I was so excited to find a Crafty Creatives Subscription box on my doorstep. Growing up I was always looking for new things to make and create so being sent a box of crafts was like a childhood dream for me. This box was the an autumnal dream with 8 sweet woodland creatures you can make to hang as bunting or on a tree. The box arrived with an adorable information card showing you the cute little felt critters that you can make as well as all the instructions and supplies you need. DSCF2919.jpg

The animals themselves were surprisingly easy to make. First you have to cut out the paper outlines which would then be used as stencils to cut out the felt shapes. There was a step by step guide on which parts to sew on when followed by at which point you need to stuff the little sweethearts. The animals varied in difficulty, some were made up of only 2 different parts and others up to 6. I would be lying if I said I made them all myself as I had some help from some flatmates who couldn’t resist a good bit of arts and crafts. squirrell.jpg

The final outcome was so adorable as well as versatile. Seeing as it is still a bit too early to start decorating the christmas tree we are currently displaying our woodland friends on a piece of string above the TV. As soon as December rolls around however our tree is going to be filled with these little buddies. One thing I found really amazing about this kit is not only did it come with more than enough felt so you definitely wouldn’t run out but the stencils and instructions could be used over and over again to make as many crafts as you want. Its works across all medium not just felt, however if you want them to be stuffy then felt is definitely the best option. FullSizeRender.jpeg

The box retails for £15 and can be found here www.craftycreatives.com. I am blown away with the quality of this box and, even with my limited sewing skills, the creatures look like something we have bought from a shop. It was so nice to just kick back and be creative whilst shutting off the technology world (I literally sound like my mum right now but every word is true). Plus we are going to have the most adorable christmas tree ever!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Unibox review

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I am now going into my final year at university and I would say I have this whole student thing down to a T. So when an email popped into my inbox from the lovely Daphnee at Unibox (theunibox.com) I thought it was a match made in heaven.

Unibox is a monthly subscription box tailor made for helping students get through another crazy term. They have a varied price plan where you can pay monthly for £21.95 a month or pay for 3 months, 6 months and up to a full year at a discounted prices. As far as value for money goes, which seems to be key with subscription boxes, the box is valued at over £37 so you are definitely getting over the worth of the box in products due to the sheer amount that you get (6-8 products). But that is enough of the technical talk time to open the box up and see what goodies are inside!

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All of the products included in the Unibox

I was blown away at how accurately Unibox had managed to cover the aspects of being a student. For me there are 4 main ares of uni life that they have covered perfectly – drinks, snacks, mental health and beauty (as well as a bit of organisation). On the top of the box was a zine that contained, not only, information about the products inside but also tips for surviving freshers, cheap meals to cook and some funny fresher fails.

 

unibox photos3.jpgPukka Matcha Green Tea – Lets all be honest here, when I put drinking and student in the same sentence I am sure you all instantly thought alcohol but (rather wisely) Unibox has thought more about the drinks you’ll need to recover a morning after a night out. If you couldn’t tell already by the name I am a major tea fan and green tea is amazing for cleansing out the gross hangovers. If I am being honest I am not the biggest fan of the taste of green tea but with a drop of honey this one was delicious!

BE Juice Drink – Walking around Lidl you will most likely add some chocolate and bread to your basket but sometimes those pesky vegetables just don’t seem to make the cut (even though we all know they should). This BE drink will be a perfect way to get some of your 5 a day in whilst also tasting lovely. In my first year of university my diet was horrendous and something I really came to regret when my health and mental health deteriorated. A drink like this will be the perfect little boost alongside those steamed vegetables which I have now come to love.

unibox photos4.jpgMunchy Seeds – Being a student comes with an eternal hunger that never seems to go away. Be it 2 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning I am always pining for a snack and in previous years I have reached for the honey flavoured munchy seeds. In the unibox I received the omega sprinkles flavour that I imagine will be lovely in some ready brek (yes I do still eat ready brek) and a great way to get in some nutrients that your  body will be craving.

Rhythm 108 Chocolate Brownie – My sweet tooth did a little happy dance when I saw this in the box. Chocolate brownies are one of my favourite things on this planet! When I saw that not only was this bar was considered to be good-for-you (how true that is I am unsure but it is gluten free and with no added sugar) but it could be heated in the microwave to make a gooey chocolatey dream my whole body started doing a happy dance!

unibox photos.jpgWarrior not Worrier Iron on Patch – To begin with what a cracking slogan that is! As I mentioned earlier in my first year of university I suffered badly from anxiety so I loved seeing that this box includes products that support help for mental health. I am not quite sure what I am going to do with the actual iron on patch but it did introduce me to a new clothes brand, Maison de Choup, in which 25% of proceeds goes to the charity young minds.

Unibox Goal Planner – I am a sucker for stationary but add a tropical print on there and I am in heaven. This gorgeous planner is tailor made for you to set yourself monthly goals at the beginning of each month and then review at the end to see if you completed them. Look wise this is right up my street and it is also very practical. I put it under mental health because I tend to find its easier to keep my anxiety under control if I have a structure and something to work towards to keep me motivated each day.

unibox photos2.jpgOptiat Hangover Coffee Scrub – Out off all the items in the box this is the one that intrigues me the most. It is peppermint scented and claims to revive your skin and perk up your mood after a night out. My acne gets horrendous around freshers week due to the stress, the alcohol and the crazy amount of makeup, face paint and glitter that goes on my face so if this can help that then I am all for it. The smell is something I am not the biggest fan of but if it does what it says on the tin (or the plastic bottle in this case) then that is something I can overlook. After testing it out I can say it did help to freshen up my skin but I must be honest and say that I used it the morning after a night out rather than, as it suggests, the night of simply because all I wanted to do was get into bed!

Mighty Razor Holder – I would say this was the most random product in the box but it does serve a good use. It is not something I would necessarily go out and purchase myself but after having it in my shower for a couple of days it is actually quite handy. It sticks to any shiny surface without leaving any marks so there are no fears of losing some of your deposit for damaged walls. This might be useful for the bearded ones amongst us who need to keep a razor more to hand than me.

DSCF2848.jpgUnibox Card Holder – I didn’t quite know what category to put this in so I made it into its own category. There have been so many times on nights out, or even just going to uni, where I want to bring my phone but don’t want the hassle of bringing my purse with me. This card holder sticks to the back of your phone and then has a pocket to slot in whatever you might need – ID, Card, Uni ID. Genius!

Overall I am very impressed with the Unibox and the range of products in included. Each one served a very useful purpose and I can definitely see myself using everything that was included. The unibox website is here if you are interested and I would really recommend checking them out (especially seeing as the next box is Hocus Focus themed if you sign up by the 16th October!)

ALSO Code BLOG5 will give you £5 OFF your 1st order (so go get that halloweeny student goodness!)

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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Body Shop Tea Tree range review

DSCF2129.jpgEver since the joys of puberty I have been blessed with acne! Over the past 10 years I have tried everything from clean & clear to doctor prescribed creams and tablets but nothing has ever completely cleared my skin!

For christmas I was given 4 pieces from the tea tree collection at the Body Shop and FOR ONCE it seems to be making a difference! For reference here is a photo from 2 years ago and now. As well as getting my nose pierced and sorting my eyebrows out, my forehead has completely cleared up. I still have bad scars on my cheeks and breakouts on my chin (especially when I’m stressed) but as a whole it is a lot better! Now I know I am wearing make up in the second picture and not the first but just believe me when I say the difference in my skin is insane!skin.jpg

The pieces that I received from the Body shop range is the 3-in-1 Wash Scrub and Mask, the Skin Clearing Clay Mask, the Pore Minimiser and the Anti-Imperfection Daily Solution. 

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I use this as a scrub everyday in the shower (because it is a pain to wash off in the sink) and I find it really gets deep into my pores. My skin is left feeling super soft and a lot less rough. I find if I put this on in the morning when a spot is brewing under the surface of my skin it definitely decreases in size over the day! The only downside, as I earlier mentioned, is it is really difficult to wash off, especially if you use it as a mask, but do it in the shower and you will have no problems

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I put this on 2-3 times a week as soon as I get out the shower. It does make you look like shrek but it goes on as a mousey texture and then starts to dry hard. You leave it on for 10-15mins and then wash it off. Now when I say my skin feels smooth after I mean it feels like a fresh little babies bottom. I can also see a noticeable change in the size of my spots after I take this mask off. One problem I have found with this is after an hour or so my skin feels really dry (I’m guessing because it is drying out spots) but I would just recommend putting a moisturiser on once you’ve taken it off.

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Whether you’re meant to do this or not I don’t know but I use this as a primer before I put my make up on. I have really tried to limit the amount I wear foundation but I feel like this puts on a protective layer first whilst also putting some more tea tree on my face to dry out those pesky spots! It does have quite a tacky feel when you’ve put it on your skin so I find it does actually work well as a primer to keep make up on for longer.

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Out of the whole range I have this is the only one that I question. If I’m honest I just don’t think it does anything for me! You’re meant to put a few drops of it on but I just find it leaves my skin feeling quite oily and nothing seems to change when I do put it on. I have just recently purchased the Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner (£6) from the range to substitute for this, seeing as it is half the price for twice the amount, so I will see how that goes.

There are my honest reviews of this range, have you ever tried it? or do you have any other skin saviours? I am going to carry on using these products and just pray that my skin cooperates!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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