Game of Thrones In Ireland

Game of Thrones In Ireland

A day tour of Northern Ireland and some of the filming locations for Game of Thrones.

So I just went on a day tour of the filming locations of Game of Thrones. Although I haven't seen much of the show (only season one and part of season two), I still love the show. I promise I will get around to watching it all one day but I never seem to have time anymore. To many, Game of Thrones is more than just a television show, it's a way of life. or our tour guide, that was especially true. Our tour guide, Eric, plays a Wildling in Game fo Thrones. (He is also an extra in the show Vikings). As the bus ride from Dublin into Northern Ireland was a bit lengthy, we watched different films on the creation of Game of Thrones and the story behind it.

Just in case you didn't know, Game of Thrones is filmed in 3 countries: Northern Ireland, Spain, and Malta. Many of the first scenes were filmed just a few hours from where I currently live in Dublin. Having never been to Northern Ireland, I was able to not only explore the filming locations but also Northern Ireland.

The great part about the tour was that even if you have never seen Game of Thrones or if you're like me and have only seen some of it, you can still have an enjoyable day. On the way to our first stop we were told that later in the day there would be two surprises for us all. Having no clue as to what they would be, and hoping/praying one would be Kit Harrington, we continued on to Tollymore Forest Park. Throughout the 3km trek in Tollymore Forest Park many key scenes have been filmed such as the pit where the dismembered Wildlings were found, Tyrion and Jon's campsite on their way to the Wall, and the bridge where the Dire Wolf pups were found. After putting on wool cloaks, we trekked through the forest to discover all of this and more.

After making it all the way through the forest we were finally told our surprises: meeting two of the Dire Wolves from the show. Needless to say, that's all any of us could think about for the next hour or so, and my only motivation for walking up the mountain to get out of the forest. Odin and Thor, more commonly know as Summer and Greywind (Robb's and Bran's dogs) were such a wonderful surprise. What's even more, is that their owner, his brothers, and dad all have been in Game of Thrones as Wildlings and a Dothraki slave master.

The family was able to share so much about the show that you couldn't hear from anyone else because of their experiences.After sadly leaving the pups we went to the Castle Ward Estate where nine film locations are on site. Winterfell, Walder Frey's Twins, and Robb's Camp in the Riverlands all can be found close together. The 16th-century castle and stables were used to show Winterfell and the 15th-century Tower House on the shores of Strangford Lough was used as one of the Walder Frey's Twins. Many other scenes have been shot throughout the estate including when Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister washed up on shore and found the three bodies hanging from the tree.

After walking around the estate we traveled to Inch Abbey, a 12th century Cistercian Abbey where Robb is crowned King in the North. Once we put on our cloaks again and gained some swords, we crowned our own Queen in the North who won the trivia game on the bus (no, not me).

Once our time at Inch Abbey was over, we boarded the bus and departed for Dublin. Thanks to the screen on the bus we were able to view the first two and a half episodes of Game of Thrones, a fitting way to end our day tour of the filming locations. Even if you aren't a big fan of the show, If you ever get the chance to visit Ireland or Northern Ireland, go on this tour and make sure you get to meet the Dire Wolves.

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.

Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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Italy, you will never be forgotten

Thank you, Italy.


On July 11th, 2016, (exactly two years ago from the day I'm writing this), after an 18-hour flight, I stepped foot on Italian soil for the first time. Why was I in Europe you ask? I was fortunate enough to have received a scholarship opportunity to participate in a foreign exchange program. So, there was 17-year-old Summer with her life in a suitcase and an incredible passion for traveling, off to meet my Italian friend Cecilia and the rest of her family for the very first time. I was both thrilled and terrified at the airport as I looked for a family holding a sign reading, "Welcome Summer." Little did I know that these five Italian strangers would soon become my Italian forever family.

Cecilia has three siblings: an older sister named Marta, a younger sister named Camila, and a younger brother named Jacopo. Believe it or not, the language barrier didn't hinder the growth of our bond. Lucky for me, Italians have been taking English classes since the first grade, and with Cecilia being the brain of her siblings, she spoke English incredibly well, serving as the Queen of Translations for her siblings, parents Anna and Marco, and myself. The times we did struggle we used our hands to communicate and when that didn't work… let's just say we all downloaded Google Translate on our phones.

When I tell you the culture shock was real, it was real. Cecilia lives in Rimini, Italy and some parts of the city were very country-like with flower fields, vegetable gardens, and haystacks everywhere. The tourist in me screamed to sit on a pile of hay and so we dealt with the itchiness long enough to get a good picture. I know it sounds so insignificant like "girl it's a haystack who cares" but it's just the experience of something different in a place I've never been to before. I didn't just sit on a haystack. I sat on a bale of hay, for the first time, in ITALY.

Of all of the adventures and new experiences in Italy, my absolute favorite part of the trip was the authentic Italian food. All of the vegetables and spices Italians use in their kitchen are grown in their backyard. In movies, Italians are known for eating their meals outside with a glass of wine, warm bread and some kind of pasta dish. That is indeed the Italian lifestyle. I promise I tried every pasta known to man. Once you've made lasagna from scratch in the home of true Italians, you will never be satisfied with anything less. I distinctly remember focusing all my attention on Cecilia's Nonna (grandma) as she explained the directions to make lasagna. She told us where to place the lasagna pasta, how much meat to put on each layer and which spoon to use to spread the cheese. A lot of time, sweat and most importantly love went into perfecting that lasagna, but at the end of the night, our stomach and hearts were full.

My last week in Italy, Cecilia's family and I made the three-hour drive to Venice, Italy. It was an indescribable experience. I saw St. Mark's Basilica live in person, and the Roman and Greek Byzantine design were beautiful. As we rode in the gondola, I remember feeling so grateful for the opportunity to visit Italy and meet this incredible loving family. My trip to Italy taught me there is an entire world out there just waiting to be explored. What is front of us right now isn't all there is to life, and we must travel to learn and grow physically, mentally and spiritually. As cliché as it sounds, the possibilities are endless so go everywhere and anywhere as much as you can. Take it all in and embrace the different cultures, people, architecture, and food. We can't forget the food.

A little tradition that Cecilia's family and I started during my time in Italy was sharing common English sayings such as "Good things in life don't come easy" or "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Each week I would share a new saying with them and as a going away present they framed a picture of us and wrote all the quotes on the border of the frame. It's one of the best gifts I've ever received. So, I leave you with this saying, Saint Augustine once said, "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."

Cover Image Credit:

Summer Cortes

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