What is it About the Game of Thrones?

My family and I recently visited a few Game of Thrones film locations in Northern Ireland. Three members had never indulged in the series; however, we all still had a great time! There may even be a few converts.  We had great fun visiting the different locations.  A humble photo log of the GOT film locations:


Cairn Castle as fields of Westeros

This beech tree hedgerow (below), planted in the 18th century, is the setting for the haunted Dark Hedges of the Kingsroad; where Arya Stark, Gendry and Hot Pie escape King’s Landing and head north. 

GOT_Kings Road_Dark Hedges_BallymoneyCoAntrim

The King’s Road, The Dark Hedges, Ballymoney, County Antrim

Cushendun Caves-Shadow Baby 1

Cushendun Caves, Co Antrim as Storms End

Cushendun Caves, along Northern Ireland’s coast in County Antrim is the setting where Lady Melisandre gives birth to the shadow creature in season two (above). Used again, during season three, Ser Davos Seaworth helps Gendry (last living bastard son of King Robert Baratheon) escape from the Island of Dragonstone (below).

GOT_Cushendun Co Antrim_Gendry escapes dragonstone

Cushendun Caves, Co Antrim as the Island of Dragonstone

GOT_Lordsport, Port of Pyke_Ballintoy Harbor, Co Antrim

Ballintoy Harbor, Co Antrim as Lordport, Port of Pyke 

Ballintoy Harbor (above) is the setting of Theon’s return to the Iron Islands, where he first meets his sister, Yara & is baptized in the name of the Drowned God. Turn around to see the Larrybane chalk quarry (below) which is the setting for Stormland and King Renley Baratheon’s camp where Brienne of Tarth is introduced.  

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Larrybane, Co Antrim

So what is it about the HBO science fiction and fantasy television series, Game of Thrones?  Some see GOT as a symbolic and subtle commentary on today’s main social and political issues. Hmm.  I just like to be entertained. The series does present complex characters, multiple story lines, wry humor, dialogue and very complicated moral questions. Gender, race, the differently-abled, and multiculturalism are baldly presented.  Whatever your feelings, it’s definitely not for the little ones and adults have to stay on their toes to follow all the plot lines and innuendos.

Have a good week! – – Joanne


Doorway to the Land of 100,000 Welcomes

There is nothing lovelier than the pride and welcoming spirit of Ireland’s people. Hospitality abounds in the pubs, restaurants, on the streets. As we traveled throughout Ireland, we received numerous invitations in every county to join the lads in the pubs, to on-street inquiries asking whether we were lost, to colloquial instructions on how to act like an Irish. 🙂 Céad Míle Fáilte: truly, Ireland is the land of 100,00 welcomes! Friendly and full of pride – never more evident than the colorful entryways of Ireland’s homes. 






Seemingly always freshly painted and adorned with a bit of greenery or flowers; every entry a welcome. 

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
A full moon on a dark night,
And the road downhill all the way to your door.
                                                                             —Irish proverb

Have a good week – – Joanne

More Travel Tips for Ireland

Prior to departure from the United States for Ireland, our preparatory plan included tips for airfare, luggage, and moneyPlanning and budgeting in advance has allowed my family to experience the land of 100,000 welcomes without sacrifice. Once in Ireland, we had a focused itinerary with pre-paid tours, meals, accommodations and built-in down time. Here are a few more tips from our trip to Ireland…

PREPPING   Planning for our trip began eight months in advance by pouring over the internet, purchasing travel books, maps and questioning friends who had traveled to Ireland. We each decided upon a “must see” which, in turn, helped us plan an itinerary and determine transportation needs. We visited a travel agent once we knew what we wanted. We saved by purchasing tours online, giving us a focused itinerary at a discount.  Of course our tours included tourist hot spots:


Giant’s Causeway (& my reckless kids)

TRANSPORTATION   We splurged on a taxi from the airport to our first hotel, to a 6:30 AM tour bus stop and to the airport for a 5:30 AM departure.  But mostly we walked or used the local hop-on-off bus. As we left Dublin, we rented a van. Navigating out of the city was a white knuckle experience for our son-in-law. Opposite side steering wheel and street, roundabouts, passing on the left, very small roadways, cattle crossings, car parks with height restrictions (which meant finding on-street parking), a manual gear shift and Gaelic road signs took some getting used to. By mid-week he was a confident roundabout expert, questioning other driver’s qualifications. LOL.



FOOD   It goes without saying that hotel restaurants are more pricey. Our hotel accommodations included complimentary full Irish breakfasts. We mostly ate in the pubs; sometimes skipping a meal because we weren’t hungry. Guinness pie, Irish stew, shepherd pie, seafood gumbo and brown bread can be quite filling. Plus, there is no cover to listen to the trad musicians! Once we even ordered breakfast bags “to-go” and a lunch picnic basket. 

LAUNDRY   We brought light-weight, easy to pack travel clothes (i.e. Eddie Bauer, Columbia, Under Armor) in a carry-on and a backpack each, planning to wash our clothes mid-trip. We washed our clothing in the hotel sink and bathtub, hanging them in the shower to dry overnight. Mostly dry by morning, some items took two days to completely dry. One daughter chose an outdoor coin-operated launderette which charged €8 per pound. Hotels charged €2-3 for t-shirts and €5-9 for jeans. The differences were time and money… save money, spend time or spend money, save time. 

washing clothes

FÁILTE!   Welcome! The Irish are a friendly, out going people ready with clever wit and conversation and opinion.  We conversed and bantered easily in cosmopolitan Dublin, Belfast and Cork. On the western coast we had a little difficulty understanding the different dialects, idioms and county accents. Stíofán (SHTEE fawn), a truly friendly and happy Inis Oírr (Inisheer) bloke translated much of his island’s Gaelic for us, stating that the islanders only speak English for the tourists.  Wherever we went, no one seemed to mind when asked them to repeat themselves. They’d respond with a friendly, “So, where are you from?” and the conversation would begin. 

stephan_inis oirr

Friendly Stíofán of Inis Orr

All in all, what an experience to share with my family! We are back in the United States, tired and happy. I can’t wait to share about some of our experiences. Stay tuned!

Travel Tips for Ireland , part 1

Hope you have a good week! — Joanne


Travel Tips for Ireland

Ourselves, daughters, son-in-law and grandson are off to Ireland, the Land of 100,000 Welcomes! We’re celebrating life, family and our 37th anniversary; just to name a few. We did our homework on budgeting and travel tips…

AIRFARE  I truly despise flying international “economy” – but we are a party of seven ($$$). Since Ireland is not as far a distance from the United States east coast as some destinations, it was bearable. We saved quite a bit with airfare purchased with Wednesday departures.

LUGGAGE  We are traveling light.  Our daughters were slightly taken aback upon learning that we’d be traveling light with one carry-on and a backpack, each. No hairdryer? (Audible gasp). 😄This allowed us a quick Customs Check as we were able to skip the sleepy wait at baggage claim, avoid long taxi lines and (with Day 3 now upon us), happy that we’re not lugging around suitcases. We’ll need to visit a laundromat at the half point.


MONEY  Before leaving home we made sure our credit and ATM cards would work abroad and purchased €300 before departing (for airport snacks and taxi). This way we’re not carrying around a large sum. We will pay as we go, avoiding bringing too much unusable pounds or euros back home.

Another budget-wise decision was to eat in the pubs. Oye! Out to bust the “Picky American” moniker we are willing to give everything (even black pudding) a try. 😬LOL.


seafood chowder

SITE-SEEING Taxis are an expensive way to site-see. Dublin has a guided  “hop on off” bus tour for €19 that is well worth the cost. We are getting an awesome experience by walking the local streets and slipping into small shops, bakeries and pubs. The locals are so friendly!


Saint Patrick’s

My hope is to timely journal our travels throughout Ireland via this blog throughout images and video. On my mobile. We’ll see. 😉

More Travel Tips for Ireland, part 2

Have a good week! – – Joanne