Lindsay On Location has made its way to the green pastures of Northern Ireland. The country is one of our favorite countries, which is filled with rainbows, Guinness and quaint pubs.
Game of Thrones has just opened an immersive studio tour just outside of Belfast. You can immerse yourself in the expansive collection of costumes, props, sets and weapons, seeing first-hand the exquisite craftsmanship and skills that turned fiction to reality. Step behind the scenes and explore everything from the iconic real-life sets to the final layers of visual effects which made Game of Thrones a favorite with viewers across the realm. I tried first hand trying to shoot the white walkers with their virtual bow and arrow. And, you can even step in front of a green screen where you can dress as your favorite character, sit on the throne, or even design your own Game of Thrones family motto. This experience is perfect for all ages and an exciting new adventure just outside Belfast.
To know the city is to be in the city. We stayed right in the thick of it, in the Europa Hotel. Centrally located in the city center; walking distance to pubs and restaurants, a minute drive to the main motorway and a suite is even named after the Clintons when they visited. The hotel has everything you might need to navigate the country, and the hotel staff was more than accommodating during out stay.
A black taxi tour is an absolute must when visiting the island. Our driver, Billie, was very knowledgeable about the history and left no stone unturned in his stories.
We traversed around the city in the cab seeing the murals dedicated to the troubles, the fallen and all the greats that called Belfast home. You can sign your name on the peace wall that was erected, hear the stories from the Catholic and Protestant side and see how the city has evolved into what it is today.
Beyond Belfast, they took us to see some of natures wonder. The Giant’s Causeway is a jewel of the Antrim coast. Located on the seaside and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Giant’s Causeway is composed of thousands of hexagonal stones and symmetrical columns. But, legend has it that the giant, Finn McCool, had a tiff with a Scottish fellow, named Benandonner, and Finn started grabbing huge rocks and hurled them into the water. I like the giant’s story, instead of the true story of science. Along the coastal route we stopped at small towns, castles and historical landmarks to make the journey feel like we are really a part of the history.
The number one thing you need to do in Ireland is to follow in a local Irishman’s footsteps and herd some sheep. Put on some herding shoes, warm clothes and a brave face. We were lucky enough to walk on Glenshane Country Farm, a 4th generation farm, and have an amazing experience with Jamese. With a whistle or a gesture, the dogs herd the flock around the farmland. Also, it was truly a unique experience getting in the pen with the sheep and getting up close and personal. Jamese was very patient with us and knowledgeable about his farmland. We even experienced the complexity of sheering sheep, which is just amazing to watch. You can even stay on the farm. This is an experience not to be missed!
In January 2016, some of the iconic Dark Hedges were destroyed by a storm that swept through, but don’t worry. Instead of the wood disappearing, they carved the fallen trees into 10 real-life doors that were sent throughout Northern Ireland for safe keeping. Each door tells the story of an episode from season of 6 in Game of Thrones. Don’t forget to get your Journey of Doors Passport stamped at each location.
Also, if you are on a Game of Thrones tour. Head to Jewellry Steensons. The company made the rings, crowns, and jewelry for the show. You can see Game of Thrones memorabilia, but you cannot buy any replicas from the show.
To celebrate the ten years of Game of Thrones filming in Northern Ireland, the tourism board created six giant, stained glass windows that show iconic scenes of the show, called Glass of Thrones. You can see these windows scattered along the water in Belfast, where different families depict different houses or legacies. The designs include the most talked about or researched scenes from seasons one to seven.
There are 20 Game of thrones locations that you can visit throughout the country. They are scattered around bringing you that much close to feel like you are apart of the show. It is also a great way to see and experience parts of the country that you might not of seen.
Do you like shopping and food? Head to Saint George’s market for a variety of eateries, artistic shops, or some fresh seafood. The market itself dates back to the 1600’s. The weekends are bursting with local music and people bustling about in the market. One of the best stops to truly experience the city and its culture. It is a can’t miss.
The Cathedral Quarter in Belfast is the place to be. It is the creative and cultural heart of the city, and you can walk around gazing at the spectacular architecture. With the buzzing pubs, delicious food and unbelievable dining experiences, you can experience what Belfast has to offer. After enjoying some Irish ales, walk over to the many art galleries and spend an afternoon there.
The Titanic Museum is located just right next to the slipways where the original Titanic was designed, built and launched. Titanic Belfast does an amazing job telling the full story of the ship. You can learn about the history of the people who built the ship, the impacts on society from the building and sinking of the ship, and first-hand accounts on the devastating news that shook the world. Do not forget to head over to the Titanic Belfast Hotel where you can taste one of the last drinks that was served on the Titanic, the Punch Romaine.
Northern Ireland is such a special place. Whether you are a Game of Thrones fan, history lover, or just like to be in the vast country side. There is something for everyone!