Game of Thrones Tours 2019 Northern Ireland

download.jpgOne of our most beloved television series, Game of Thrones, is concluding it’s 8 season run this coming week. To celebrate, fans from around the world are flocking to Belfast and Norther Ireland for touring. I’ve written about the joys of touring based on film and television fan travel in the past. This year even more places abound, with fans of Game of Thrones completing the journey. The current and final season now showing, with only two episodes left, were filmed in Northern Ireland, Croatia, and at the studios of Titanic Studios, located in the harbor of Belfast in the Titanic shipyards. Now that production is done, you can tour the studio area as well as take some tours to the filming locations.

Titanic studios are also hosts to two great attractions, The Titanic Belfast Museum, and the SS Nomadic. And if you travel to this wee ship, the last of the Star line, you may catch a glimpse of actor Duncan Lacroix (Outlander, GOT) shoveling coal in one of his earlier acting gigs.

Game of Thrones Touring Exhibition is now open in Belfast through September 2019. An amazing costumes and props exhibition encompassing the series 8 seasons, highly recommended. It goes on tour again in October and may hit a city near you. Some tours from Dublin are including this in their itinerary. Check if you need to purchase viewing separate from tour.

Tours

Want to dress up a bit? Visit filming locations and totally geek out? Here are a few companies just for you:

Game of Thrones Tours

Winterfell Tours

Stones and Thrones

Kings Landing is filmed in Croatia. Tours are here https://www.kingslandingdubrovnik.com/game-of-thrones-tours

Keep in mind that the tours with smaller vans will be better at getting into places and more intimate. The Dark Hedges may be blocked soon, as the beech trees are getting more damaged with tourism, and the trees themselves are coming to an end of life. Park in the actual car park and don’t ruin the view for others. Please check tour review sites for feedback. Since this is the season after the last season of GOT, many of the tours are booked through fall, and it is recommended that you book early online if possible.

Self Guided GOT Tours

There are several resources for finding locations by yourself for a much more quiet and intimate experience.

Self Guided Tours

Croatia King’s Landing Map

Game of Thrones Doors Map 

These unique doors were created as a result of a couple of the Dark Hedges trees coming down in a storm. Now you can travel N. Ireland and visit many locations where the doors, each uniquely carved, have been put to use.

Northern Ireland GOT Map

Fandom filming locations article, links to episodes information

These Fangirls are diehards. Read their locations guide here.

Article on sites

What to Do for Free in Amsterdam — Free Tours by Foot

Quote

This post will include a variety of free things to do in Amsterdam, including a Top 10 list. We also cover free things to do at night as well as free, family-friendly activities. Top 10 Family-Friendly Nighttime Activities Seasonal (Month and Season) TOP 10 FREE THINGS TO DO In the following section, we…

via What to Do for Free in Amsterdam — Free Tours by Foot

Glasgow Botanics: Spring Blues Cure All

IMG_0877

A Celtic Muse

It’s slowly crawling towards spring, but you know that last stretch seems to be a huge hill to climb. Especially with this past winter, Scotland has had record snows and storms.It’s a great time if it’s safe to do so, to seek out a place where you can get a tropic feel without having to fly. Whether you are visiting Glasgow or a seasoned resident, having a bit of green during the dreary grey and white filled months, that seem to include Spring, will help those with the doldrums spring. If you find your Seasonal Affective Disorder won’t let go, Glasgow has answers.

IMG_0880

Two of the best indoor flora venues are in this town, The Glasgow Botanics Gardens Kibble Palace and the smaller Winter Gardens, and the People’s Palace at the Glasgow Green. Both feature classic Victorian Green Houses and are free to the public, but if you have a fiver, please donate at these free venues and any other museum in the city. It all helps to give you a cheer when you have the grey throughout.

IMG_0879

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

730, Great Western Road Glasgow G12 OUE Tel:0141 276 1614 Open from 7am until Dusk Every Day, Glass Houses Until 6pm, 4:15 in Winter.

Easily accessible by public transportation, near the Hillhead Underground stop, and off the Great Western Road with plenty of bus access. It’s close to the West End and Glasgow University grounds and has great access to fabulous food and other activities in the area. The Heritage walk encompases the exterior gardens off the Kelvin River and links up with the Kelvin walkways. A great way to add to a day of walking the parks in this very walkable town.

IMG_0878

The Kibble Palace is a Victorian Glass House Arboretum that was founded in 1817 by Thomas Hopkirk, and was part of the university in its early days. The gardens began in another location closer to campus, offering support and the teaching of botanics to students. The current site has been in use since 1839, and has a grouping of large glass structures that house several collections of specimens from around the world. The palace houses the main collections, with several other glass structures surrounding it. Glass houses mean protection from the elements for the many plants that are tropic, and this means a great out of the elements exploration for you.

Each greenhouse features different world plant zones, from the tropics to the deserts of the world. There are plants from all of the continents. My favorite is the collection of Carnivorous plants, and any fun Orchid that is dangling. Every inch imaginable is packed with plants. There is even a seed exchange or purchase, but you’ll have to go soon, they are only available until about mid April.

Kelvin Walkway

Maps Courtesy Walk Highlands

The Kelvin Walkway extends the West Highland Way walking trails into the city proper, going through Minlgavie. This a nice river walk/hike that goes through the city and lets you pop up in several neighborhoods. The full pathways route is a good 17 Km. Keep an eye out for blocked access as some of the stairs are under repair and it may be a few streets before you can exit. You can walk portions of the river walkways and come up to view attractions or neighborhoods, there are great eats in the West End. You can start the full walk from the Riverside Museum and do the Botanics and other attractions along the way. Mind the midges.

The Riverside Museum, Glasgow

6863292009_27ea388cbf_z

Transport, it’s what Glasgow has been about for over a hundred years. Shipbuilding and the arts. A city filled with people, theatre and film. It has always kept moving, and that was aided by transport. What a city, and one that has been burgeoning in the last two decades, and soon may even have space travel. The best place to see this passage of history and the coming of the future is going to the Riverside Museum.

Riverside Museum, Pointhouse Place, Glasgow, G3 8RS Scotland UK

IMG_0816

Absolutely an architectural gem, but that’s just the housing. It’s what’s inside that will grab you,  for several hours at least. I have visited the eclectic transport museum twice, there is just too much to see about the life of Scotland’s transport and the culture that surrounded it. The museum is situated on the bank of the Clyde River and in a great area for an afternoon of fun, taking in the Glasgow Science Centre is another must in the area and will make for a very complete day.

IMG_0823

The Riverside is a transport history museum, filled with the rich history of this industrial town and its people, how they traveled about and lived their daily lives through recent years. Vehicles and  ships models are displayed here, with up close and personal viewings for most objects, when they are not stacked high against the walls. If you are a big fan of period dramas and love those 1960s British cars in Endeavor and Downton Abbey, or love anything to do with ships, you and your family or friends will be entertained for hours.

IMG_0821

The building was created in 2011 by the Zaha Hadid Architects in London. It is a phenomenal beauty to behold. The displays swoop and flow with the buildings architecture, and help to convey the movement of transport, the flow of the traffic feel even though the over 3000 objects are parked.

IMG_0817

I spent my first visit enamored of vehicles we just don’t see often stateside. I am a huge fan of cars from past eras, and find that commercial vehicles of the past such as milk floats, trams, a hearse with model horses, shop models you can walk in, full train engines, and the motorbikes display. I’m a big fan of UK motorbikes, and this museum has some rare beauties. They are stacked up a wall and extremely drool worthy. Can you say Motorbike Porn? Nortons, a Triumph Bonneville and other classic bikes from many eras are featured. You’ll want to grab one and take a ride.

IMG_0820

IMG_0825

The displays are organized by Streets, where you can walk cobblestones and shops of old, The Clyde where the biological and human life of the great river is displayed.Transport and Leisure where the displays run from classic cars to the history of skateboards. There is a section on Made in Scotland, that shows the rich shipbuilding history of the area, and other transport build and developed in Scotland to be used in the UK and the world. The historical cars and other vehicles on display show the tastes and changes in technology that helped develop our favorite modes of transport. There are also some fun fashion displays that show what people wore while living with such great transport.

IMG_0826

When you exit, take a walk on the decks of the Tall Ship Glenlee. This makes for a very highly recommended day of exploration with family and friends, or just a solo wander while walking Clydeside in this amazing industrial town. Rain or shine activity.

IMG_0822

 

IMG_0824

IMG_0819

IMG_0818

Ed Weber Photo ©2012

J. Canning Photos’s ©2017

Links

Riverside Museums Pictures of the Week

Riverside Museum GlasgowLive write up

Clyde Waterfront

Glasgow Museums

Glasgow Science Centre

Travel by Train, It Makes Sense

virginWhen traveling in another country, you may not have the luxury of taking a car and just going. Cars can be rented, but can be more costly in the UK and Europe to rent and run. Of course you can have fun driving on the left side of the road, or maybe find a place in Germany that rents American Muscle Cars and drive the Autobahn (always a bucket list item). Trouble is that renting a motorcar in the UK or Europe is very expensive and you may return from your trip with additional costs for a slight car ding ranging in the £€ 1,000.00 2,000.00 range. Yes, even if you buy insurance, there will be some additional costs, and petrol is very high in Europe. So often a train ride is a better option. And trains can be fun, especially if you can get on a historic one. Many of the train options are for diesel or electric and some are well cared for, and some are not. But you need to get where you are going, and travel bus is not for everyone.

Scotland

Hogwarts Express – Scotland The Jacobite Express First Class £ 59.00 £ 35.00 standard return.

http://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/

This iconic train is booked well in advance as you can imagine. I couldn’t get it for my dates. If you are a train lover, start planning your vacation around the trains and trips months in advance. This train encompasses the Glenfinnan viaduct, Arisaig, Mallaig, Fort William areas and is a great trip across the Highlands and on a clear day you can see many of the islands from the shores. Their’s full tea service as well, and you know how fun it is to take tea on a classic train.

If you want to see Hogwart’s locations, head to University of Glasgow, and Edinburgh’s streets.

The Flying Scotsman

http://www.flyingscotsman.org.uk/ Site is very image intensive

To book, go to this site http://www.railwaytouring.net/

This train recently started touring again and has been quite a hit. However there was a performance safety issue this last season and you need to check if it is running again on the http://www.railwaytouring.net/ site. It’s a classic good run on a restored train, so keep an  eye out while you make your tour plans this season to see if you can catch a ride.

Scotrail

Luckily, Scotrail was not on strike action this season, like it had been the summer before. The trains had showed it and I had been rerouted by bus at least once on that trip. This trip, 2017, was smooth sailing, except when I was stranded in Kyle of Lochalsh due to rocks falling on the tracks for 2 hours with a cancelled train. The rest of the trip, the trains ran on time for the most part and were cleaner than the previous year. Of course going through the Highlands is always breathtaking so it was worth the trip. Great conversations with fellow travelers.

Virgin Trains The Highland Chieftain

On my final rail around the Highlands for the 2017 tour, I got a real sweet deal on Virgin Trains for a first class in the quiet car at just a few pounds more than 2nd class. A bump of £ 4.00 per seat got me on a single side seat facing the Eastern Coast of Scotland down to Edinburgh. Very smooth ride and great scenery of Stirling and all places in between. It was a bittersweet farewell to the Highlands, but a really fabulous experience. If you time your ticket right, in the middle of the week and mid to late morning, the price is fair. The only problem was one car had no WiFi working or any of the charging ports for phones and people kept coming into our car. It wasn’t really a problem as it was half full and you get to meet more people that way. Wait, it was supposed to be a quiet car, right? But most were pretty good about it. A very good trip all round on that one.

Ireland € 16.00 -30.00

Irish Rail http://www.irishrail.ie/

Traveling in Ireland this summer I spent time on some very clean trains that kept good time. I was lucky on the two trips I had to make, plenty of room and easy storage for my cases, cars were clean and comfortable. I had booked a month in advance and got very good pricing. It was under € 20.00 to get to Galway and the return trip on to Belfast was under € 30.00. Considering the high cost of being in Dublin for 4 days, it was helpful on the budget to get the tickets in advance and pick up at the kiosks. Smooth rides on both trips.

The trip to Galway was filled with amazing green fields, passing through Athlone, the true countryside of Ireland. And there is a reason it’s called the Emerald Isle, it’s amazingly green even in the high summer. It was a record high temperature week when I was there, but the trains were comfortable and clean. Conversation was good, and trains always provide an opportunity to talk with local people about where they live and what is going on in their lives. And the Irish love to talk about their lives and where they live, and great deal about politics

But Can the Train Get Me to Where I Want to Go?

In some cases, you can take trains to some of the national parks in countries, or take a link ride with a bus. Sadly this will cut into some of your travel time and limit some places you can get to. If you have a car you can tour the Highlands for better access, get closer to a Munro for that great climb. However cars make you take on big responsibilities in other countries. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the country’s driving laws and customs for driving country roads. Many tourists do not get the right of way on one lanes in Scotland and the rest of the UK much to the chagrin of locals. When in doubt, always err on the side of letting others pass. Then there are the smaller roads like coffin roads on some of the isles. You can get really lost on an island. In many cases, such as Isle of Skye, too many tourists are renting cars and not parking with care. Skye is boggy and loamy right off the road and if you get in the mire, the car will sink. Getting it pulled is very costly.

Walking and Hiking Tours

Really want to tour the countries and get to know them? Then walking tours and climbing in parks may be your best bet. Many of these can be accessed by public transport and many back packers go this route. It can take a bit longer to get somewhere, but is well worth it. Try joining some of the hiking and walking boards for the country you are visiting. You can check on the best climbs for a novice or find out about roadworks and diversions for trails. Most large cities like Dublin and Glasgow have rail to bus link services, it will take more time but it can be done.

https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/

http://www.theirelandwalkingguide.com/

http://www.walkingbritain.co.uk/

Train Touring Companies

http://www.railwaytouring.net/

https://www.vacationsbyrail.com/europe/ireland

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com/whats-on

Irish Rail Strikes

http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/every-public-transport-disruption-you-11419344

 

Frank Quietly Exhibit at the Kelvingrove, Glasgow

quietlyExhibit: From Krypton to Kelvingrove, the Works of Frank Quietly And The Art  of Comics Until October 1, 2017

Looking for a great time with great artwork, look no further. Take your kids or the big kid that is you. A comic art exhibit is not to be missed. You’ve a few weeks left and if you are lucky to be in Glasgow this Fall, you will see the works of one of the comic greats, Frank Quietly. The artist known as Quietly, born in Glasgow in 1968, has been a penciller, cover artist, cover variant, colorist, artist and much more. He has worked on Batman: The Scottish Connection, Superman, Shimura (Judge Dredd Magazine) an outcast Judge in the Dredd universe, Aiko Inaba 1996, a female Samurai, 2000AD Judge Dredd, Sandman: Endless Nights, and the list goes on.

I was lucky to be able to take in the show while in Glasgow this summer. I spent several hours pouring over the artwork of this truly great artist. The exhibition rooms were small, but packed with all stages of design from many of his works. There were original artworks and scripts from Batman and Superman. There were featured works of Frank Miller and Charles Burns also in the exhibit.

I particularly enjoyed looking at the concept art for Batman: The Scottish Connection. Well, being in Scotland, it’s a must. Seeing Bruce in a kilt was fun of course. But the experience of seeing the concept art and thought process of the artist is always intriguing. To be lucky enough to see how the design process works for the story, is always a rare treat. The story was written by Alan Grant and published in 1998. The second room featured two comics I had not seen before, Shimura and Inaba. The female Samurai caught my attention and I then found myself in acquirement mode, checking Amazon and comic shops online for the series. The inking is incredible with this series and the subject matter superbly portrayed.

This exhibit is a must see and sits in the basement galleries at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is an amazing place the spend the rest of your morning or afternoon. There are other exhibits, such as Alphonse Mucha: The Quest for Beauty and the permanent collections that will be a time well spent with family and friends. After you finish, continue out into the West End or Glasgow University for more food and sights.

If you get the comic bug after the show, visit Glasgow’s great comic shops:

City Centre Comics

Geek Retreat Cafe and Comic Bookshop several locations

Geek Aboo

Unthank Comics 23 Burgh Hall Street (off Byres Road)Glasgow G11 6NY

The Last Outpost

Red Hot Comics

The Big Glasgow Comic Mart

Articles

http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/kelvingrove/exhibitions/Pages/Frank-Quitely-The-Art-of-Comics.aspx

About the Exhibit https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/collection-of-frank-quitely-comic-book-art-to-go-on-display-at-glasgows-kelvingrove/