A Game of Thrones themed trip to Northern Ireland with Guest Blogger Louise Loves London
Yes, I am actually wearing an original costume from Game of Thrones… More about this later!
In my previous blog post, Frenchie and I went to Northern Ireland on a Game of Thrones themed trip! From the very moment we set food on the lush, green hills, we were blown away (by its beauty – but also because it is pretty windy here!)
We were staying at the luxurious Grand Central Hotel in Belfast. You can read more about this lovely hotel in my latest blog post here
Breakfast for champions! There literary wasn’t a thing you couldn’t get at the breakfast buffet…
– And what was even better – Hastings Hotels invites you to read the “little book of breakfast stories”, so you know exactly where the products come from. Most are local produce – and it was delicious!
The real proof that you are in Ireland!
Frenchie spotted the Bushmills bottle immediately and came back and asked me, if I hadn’t forgotten to add whiskey to my porridge? I had no idea, what he meant, but he just laughed and said “why don’t you go up and have a look yourself” Obviously I had to take a photo, when I saw it! (Well, someone must have thought, that it was a good idea, because the bottle was almost empty!)
Northern Ireland is of course much more than just Game of Thrones! One of my favourite things to do, when coming to a new place, is going to the local market
St. George’s Market is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions! Built between 1890 and 1896, St George’s was named UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities
The market is open Friday – Sunday and it offers a huge range of local, continental and speciality foods
Even Spain had come to Belfast this Saturday with Flamingo, tapas and paella!
Yes – this certainly was the place to go for quality food…
And quirky/ funny nic nacs to bring home
The next step on our tour was something, I had really been looking forward to. Welcome to Castle Ward
Castle Ward’s historic farmyard is the location of Game of Thrones’ Winterfell. It is also here you will find the Whispering Wood and key scenes including Robb Stark’s Camp, the Baelor battle and when Brienne confronts the Stark men
Here is one of the scenes filmed at Castle Ward
Bonus-info: The HBO spent eight weeks at Castle Ward building the set of Winterfell ahead of the pilot episode and hundreds of actors and crew worked on the filming here (photo: National Trust)
To my great surprise we got dressed up in character costumes!
– and it was the real deal! These costumes have actually been worn by the actors!
All ready to step into the movie set and stand exactly where the characters Jon Snow, and Robb and Bran Stark stood
Even Frenchie looked like he could have been part of the cast! (perhaps with a different pair of shoes!)
We both loved firing arrows – and it wasn’t actually that hard!
We left WInterfell Castle to follow the shoreline around to Robb’s Camp where Jamie Lannister was held captive in a cage (also known as Audleys Castle)
The castle perched atop a hill enjoys fantastic sweeping views over Strangford lough, where Brienne brought Jamie Lannister ashore in a canoe!
Bonus-info: This is also where St. Patrick came ashore in a boat back in the 5th century. The Vikings gave the lough the Norse name “Strangfyorthe”, meaning place of strong tidal currents or strong fjord (Being Danish I immediately recognised the word)
Time to play… Frenchie was making sure, that I got safe inside!
But then I suddenly realised, that he was a French spy – and I had to protect my kingdom. (Not really sure, what I am doing here!)
It was a tough battle…
But of course I won in the end! (As if a French person would ever take a real Viking down!)
I am the Queen of the World! Still waiting for HBO to call me! Strangely they haven’t! Galactic mistake
If you are a real Game of Thrones fan, you have to visit the Slaughter House Shop…
– and bring home souvenirs for everyone. Young and old!
We had such a fun day… And after so much activity, it was great being back home at the hotel looking forward to dinner
In the first floor Seahorse restaurant a very large illustrated piece oversees diners and depicts an ‘“imagined mythology’”
Our waitress clearly knew, how to advice us on food and wine! I love it, when you can feel that the staff is passionate about the menu, so they basically make you want it all!
To be honest I am not always the greatest fan of dining at hotel restaurants, but this one was simply exquisite!
I had the “Wild Mushroom Soup” with pickled shiitake, truffle & tarragon cream… It was the best soup I have ever had – and I could easily jump on a flight back to Belfast for this soup alone!
Frenchie had “Roasted Local Scallops” with Jerusalem artichoke velouté and black olive oil. Delicious!
We had been recommend to go for the “Salt Aged Sirloin Steak” with hand cut chips, green peppercorn cream and watercress salad. Words can not describe how tasty the steak was! We were happy campers
Heaven on a fork! I must admit, that I don’t remember the name of this dessert, but I certainly remember how good it tasted!
After dinner we went to The Observatory – The Grand Central’s jewel and most spectacular and luxurious of liquor lounges
My cocktail… It was poetry in a glass!
From pavement to panorama, this is the tallest bar in all of Ireland and it makes for a phenomenally dreamy destination. The view was spectacular and we had an amazing evening
Bonus-info: The Observatory only take a limited number of bookings each evening. Otherwise admission is on a first come first served basis. (Priority will be given to hotel residents on the evening)
Can you spot me? This is the Titanic Belfast
On our last day it was time to go and visit one of the main attractions in Belfast
Titanic Belfast was constructed at the cost of 97 million GBP. It opened in 2012 and relates the story of the famous ocean liner
The iconic building (shaped like the bows of a ship) comprises of 9 galleries over 4 floors
You will be transported through time: travelling from Edwardian “Boomtown Belfast”, learning about the lives of the workers, who built the ship and the lives of the passengers and crew who made the fateful voyage to the present day with live streaming from where the wreck lies at rest on the ocean floor
And when I say “transported”, I mean transported…
Welcome to The Shipyard Ride!
I was not allowed to film or take photos, so this is all I can give you
But basically we were taking a ride aboard a mini-car up and around a replica of Titanic‘s rudder. It was very interesting and a bit frightening as well!
One of the galleries presents a large-scale model of Titanic to illustrate how the ship appeared to its passengers and crew, depicting all three classes of cabins. A central feature in the gallery presents a 360-degree computer-generated tour around Titanic through all the levels of the vessel, from the engine room to the dining saloons and the bridge
This is a full-size replica of one of the lifeboats used to evacuate passengers from the ship
The last gallery presents Titanic as she is now, 12,000 feet (3,700 m) below the surface of the North Atlantic
Before leaving, we had a quick stop at the souvenir shop, where I found this adorable dress for Clara
– and Frenchie found erhmmm… some underwear!
Even the heart of the Ocean from the James Cameron movie “Titanic” was available
Before heading back home to London we spent few hours in the Belfast Cathedral Quarter
The Cathedral Quarter takes its name from Belfast Cathedral, also known as St Anne’s Cathedral. This is the oldest part of the city, but over the past two decades the area has experienced a renaissance and now you will find many pubs, clubs and hotels here
Many arts and cultural organisations are based here, which makes this area one of Belfast’s most vibrant places to live, study, work and visit
Read Louise’s Full blog post detailing her trip to Northern Ireland on her website here
Guest Blogger: Louise Loves London