Ireland: A Game of Thrones Experience

This summer, I was #blessed with the opportunity to visit my best friend in Ireland, where she was studying abroad this past semester. We did tons of stuff so I'm gonna break it down here. 

One of the coolest things we got to do was a Game of Thrones tour. Our tour guide, Eric (shout out to Eric--what a cool dude), plays a Wildling extra on Game of Thrones, so he had tons of cool, VIP insight into how the show was made. He also relentlessly teased us with season six spoilers. 

The tour got off to a bit of a rocky start, because our bus broke down on the middle of the Irish highway, and we were pretty concerned until we realized it was Friday the 13th. So, of course that would happen. 

Our first stop was Tollymore Forest Park in Newcastle (Northern Ireland). There was so much beautiful nature to hike through, and it was a rare, sunny day. I was feelin' totally zen. This national park is where they filmed a bunch of scenes from the pilot episode.

This particular picture is from one of the very first scenes in the pilot episode, when Will stumbles upon a bunch of dead Wildlings in a pit arranged in a ~ritualistic~ pattern. 
Fun fact: This scene took about 3 weeks to set up (on account of all the fake snow that had to be spread) and is about a 3 minute scene in the pilot. 

The other scene that was filmed here was when the Starks come across the direwolf pups. 
Fun fact: If you remember, the great family of the North finds a dead stag before they find the puppies. For this scene, the show used a real life dead stag that had already been decomposing for two days before they began filming. The faces the actors make when smelling/looking at the stag are totally real. 

Our next stop was lunch. Eric surprised us with his friend (also a Wildling extra) and his father who adopted the Northern Inuit dogs that played the direwolf pups in the pilot, Summer (Bran's) and Grey Wind (Robb's). They were so cute and fluffy (peep how big I'm smiling in the top pic!!!). 

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After lunch we hit up the real life Winterfell grounds shown in the pilot. This was the coolest part for me, because all the sets that GoT films on now are either on soundstages or virtually impossible to get to due to security reasons. When I walked up to this castle I truly felt like I was a part of the show. 

From there, we walked to Inch Abbey. We could see Walder Frey's Twins (there's only one in real life), the grounds where Robb was crowned King in the North, and the castle where Catelyn learned of Ned's death. This was amazing too because there was so much green. We ran into a few other tour groups, including a herd of little French school children, all rolling and racing down a hill in Game of Thrones-themed cloaks. 

This is the same tree where the "Stark" children were "hung." Brienne happens across it with Jaime as her prisoner-in-tow. That's Eric and some other fellow GoT nerds. 

This is the same tree where the "Stark" children were "hung." Brienne happens across it with Jaime as her prisoner-in-tow. That's Eric and some other fellow GoT nerds. 

Here is me looking like actual Arya Stark, holding her sword Needle at the ruins of the Inch Abbey castle! Eric made everyone wear cloaks and gave us swords and armor. Suffice to say, I geeked out. Hard. 

Overall, this tour was an amazing experience (side from the bus breaking down. A lot). I would definitely recommend this to anyone traveling to Ireland--even if you don't watch Game of Thrones, there are still really beautiful hikes. Plus, you can laugh at all the other nerds.  

I hope you guys thought this was as cool as I did! I'm so excited to post more about my Ireland trip over the next couple months! 

Paige