April is sort of a shitty time in Cambridge, MA. The spring equinox has come and gone and yet the ground remains slushy, the air feels grossly damp, and the promise of warmth still seems far away. People’s allergies start acting up and everyone is somewhat lost underneath a pile of papers and assignments that grows ever larger. So yea, April sucks. But for the last couple of years, there’s always been a shining light – a weekly ritual that makes the four weeks of this miserable month exciting. Yes, I’m talking about the Sunday ritual that is Game of Thrones. Of course, I’m also talking about the Monday-after ritual in which the phrase “oh my god did you watch GoT” replaces “hey, how are you” as the standard greeting. Needless to say, I was shook when it was announced that GoT would not be returning in April 2017. Instead, we would have to wait until July in order for the annual pop cultural phenomenon to take over our collective imagination.
Well folks. We made it. We’ve hit the middle of summer just in time for winter in Westeros. In honour of today’s triumphant return of GoT, I’d like to write about one of the my favourite family trips: spring break in Croatia.
My parents and I are very close. This is probably a result of me being the spoiled only child (we do have a dog though who happens to be the most handsome member of our family, but I digress). The past two spring breaks, instead of getting black out in Cancun or Florida, my parents and I have met up somewhere in the world for a spring getaway. This past year, our chosen location was Croatia, a country with rich history, beautiful churches, incredible landscapes, and where a lot of GoT happened to be filmed (but, I mean, this wasn’t the primary reason we decided to go… psh… that would be silly…).
So, what happens when three nerds go to Croatia? They go on a GoT filming locations tour of course!
A quick disclaimer. Although all three of us have watched every episode of GoT, we all watched them separately and at different times. (Wasn’t about to watch all those sex-position scenes with the rents). But though we each experienced the show itself separately, I’m glad that we experienced Croatia together!
The most recognisable GoT filming location is the stunning city of Dubrovnik. The old city is entirely contained behind great stone walls that dwarfed me and my parents. Inside the town, the cobblestoned streets form narrow alleyways that just begged to be explored. Though the main boulevard is lined with tourist shops and gelato joints, the back alleys still retain their rustic charm. Stray cats rule the quiet side streets and it’s not hard to imagine Arya hiding around the corner with needle in hand. The busier parts of town feature ornate churches but also hidden courtyards rich in history and character.
However, as stunning as Dubrovnik is at ground level, the city really shines from above. King’s Landing comes to life when admiring the city from its great wall. From the walls, we looked out over a sea of red roofs each lovingly baked by the Adriatic sun. The actual sea was no less stunning. It was a shimmery blue that stood out in contrast to the white limestone walls. While I wouldn’t wish King’s Landing on my worst enemy, I do think I could spend hours staring out upon its real world double.
Damn you are so fine Dubrovnik
In addition to Dubrovnik, we visited the fortress of Klis, which served as the skeleton for the set of Mereen. Several scenes were also filmed in the Catacombs of Diocletian’s old palace in Split which we also paid pilgrimage to. We also walked around the botanical garden which was dressed up for the Purple Wedding, my favourite of the GoT nuptials. And while we were careful not to crash any weddings, for fear of being caught in a Westerosian bloodbath, we did enjoy plenty of gelato, a lovely classical concert, and a historical tour of the area.
Photos from Split and from the Klis Fortress
Anyways, welcome back GoT! I’ve seen you in real life now, but damn have I missed seeing you on my screen as well!