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.

Image from iOS (1).jpg

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.

Image from iOS (5).jpg

Image from iOS (7).jpg

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.

Image from iOS (3).jpg

Image from iOS (4).jpg

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.

Image from iOS (6).jpg

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.

Image from iOS (2).jpg

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

Why not become friends with me on Twitter and Instagram

LIKED THIS POST? read my other post on Winter in Whistler when you don’t Ski – Adventurous Activities

Binge-worthy TV shows

The increase in cold weather also means an increase in time getting cosy in front of the television. Nothing makes me happier than grabbing a cup of tea, a blanket and my laptop to binge my way through a TV show. Saying that though I do have the attention span of a new born puppy so a show has to be good to keep my attention and here are a list of some of my favourites…

1. Pushing Daisies – In my opinion this is one of the most underrated programs ever! Its like Sherlock meets desperate housewives and I don’t know why it isn’t raved about. It follows the story of a pie maker/detective who can bring the dead back to life with a touch and his relationship with a dead girl. The story line is always interesting but lighthearted and you fall in love with all the quirky characters instantly. If you like romance, comedy, mystery and just all around kookiness then stop whatever you’re doing right now and watch Pushing Daisies!

2. Game of Thrones – Seeing as I only had 5 contact hours a week at uni I used to find myself with a lot of time on my hands and what better way to spend it than to watch Game of Thrones! I won’t lie it took me a couple of series to get into (I think it’s because there’s so many storylines I found it hard to keep up) but once I became more familiar with the characters I was hooked. It’s like entering a whole new fantasy world filled with drama and dragons and is the perfect show to watch if you just want to escape from reality for a while! Be prepared to laugh, cry, wince, scream, smile, dance and just end every episode thinking “did that really just happen?!?”

3. Gilmore Girls – By this point in my life I have watched every episode of Gilmore Girls at least 4 times and find myself thinking “what would Lorelai do” everyday of my life. This program will always have such a soft spot in my heart as I found it a relaxing thing to watch when my anxiety was acting up, you can just put in on and feel safe in the world of Stars Hollow. It’s such a homely program and you will grow to love the Gilmore Girls like they’re you’re own family (I wish they were!) as you watch Rory grow up through the series. Only side effect of this program is you will gain a coffee addiction and will probably start googling small towns in America to move to.

4. Black Mirror – Onto something very different now, if you want something thought provoking then put black mirror in this instant. Every episode follows a different story but they are all set somewhere in the future and revolve around a new kind of technology. I think it’s going to become more of an iconic programme as time goes on because before long some of the ‘futuristic technologies’ might actually become real things. Every episode has a dark side too it, sometimes its sad sometimes its scary but each is more captivating than the last (some of my favourite episodes are: S1 The Entire History of you, S2 White Bear, S3 Nosedive, S4 Hang the DJ)

5. Grace and Frankie – I don’t know if it is just because I relate to Frankie on so many levels but I find this program hilarious. It follows 2 elderly yet lively women who end up living together when their husbands come out as gay and marry each other. It is so different to anything I have ever watched on TV and every episode is funny yet heartwarming. If you’re looking for something to watch in the evening to wind down then I think this will be the perfect program for you as it makes for really easy viewing (as in your brain doesn’t have to work hard). The character development is amazing and with every program you’ll love Grace and Frankie more, as well as their dysfunctional families.

6. Luther/Sherlock – I couldn’t pick a favourite out of these two so I have decided to just put them together. Both are mystery/drama programs that follow a unconventional detective through a range of different cases. Luther has a slightly darker side than Sherlock, including some episodes that still give me nightmares, so I would avoid watching it before bed! The mysteries in Sherlock are often more complex but you can watch them in any order really, unlike Luther that has a more extensive running story in the background. To summarise though they’re both amazingly clever and the acting in them is superb (you can never go wrong with a bit of Benedict and Idris!)

RECENT PROGRAMS 

I am still working my way through a couple of these latest programs but here is what I am loving on the telly at the moment

  • Vanity Fair (a more tongue in cheek and fast paced Downton Abbey that follows the story of a rather promiscuous girl called Becky in the 1840s)
  • Killing Eve (an amazing crime drama involving a detective and an assassin that has a unique storyline and will leave you on the edge of your seat)
  • The Great British Bake Off (cake and comedy what more could you want!)

What programs are you all time favourites or are there any good ones on at the moment that I am missing out on?

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

Why not become friends with me on Twitter and Instagram

LIKED THIS POST? read my other post on First time festival thoughts

DSCF4921-2.jpg