Heating Up in Zadar

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This is post eight of fourteen on our trip to Northern Ireland and Croatia, minus our mini Game of Thrones tour. Those posts can be found here.

After spending many cold days in Northern Ireland, Mr. Selfish and I met up with Cousin Selfish in Croatia where it was consistently sunny and hot. After wearing so many layers of clothes, it felt a little odd breaking out the shorts and tank tops, but they were definitely needed in the blazing heat of Croatia.

Our first stop in Croatia was Zadar, which is the fifth largest city in Croatia. The city is right on the Adriatic Sea coastline.

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Singing the Blus in Dublin & Letterkenny

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This is post seven of fourteen on our trip to Northern Ireland and Croatia, minus our mini Game of Thrones tour. Those posts can be found here.

Mrs. Selfish and I have a pretty clear hierarchy when it comes to hotel preferences: Hyatt, Hilton/Starwood/Marriott, IHG, other.  There are admittedly a ton of great hotels out there, but I’m pretty cheap when it comes down to it. I mean, why pay for a good (or even a great) hotel when you can get it for free?

Unfortunately, Northern Ireland wasn’t exactly swimming in hotel options, so I decided to try a new program: Club Carlson.

Mrs. Selfish and I each got the Club Carlson business cards back in the summer of 2013 because the sign-up bonus was decent: Gold status (which meant free internet & breakfast) 80,000 Club Carlson points and 40,000 on each anniversary. The real kicker, however, was the card’s #1 feature: redeem one award night, and get a second one free!

Since we were doing a lot of fast travel in Ireland, I decided to give Club Carlson a whirl, so I booked us for two nights in the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin and two nights in the Radisson Blu Letterkenny.

The Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin

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Hiking Glenveagh National Park

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This is post six of fourteen on our trip to Northern Ireland and Croatia, minus our mini Game of Thrones tour. Those posts can be found here.

Mrs. Selfish and I drove from Port Stewart, Northern Ireland to Letterkenny, Ireland where we spent 2 nights at the Radisson Blu Letterkenny.

During our Selfish Year we completed an 8 day drive around the west and south of the Republic of Ireland, missing the north altogether, so we resolved to check out the north western side on this trip. After scouring the internet for things to do on that side of the country, Mrs. Selfish settled on the beautiful Glenveagh National Park.

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The Land of Giants and the Northernmost Point in Ireland

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This is post five of fourteen on our trip to Northern Ireland and Croatia, minus our mini Game of Thrones tour. Those posts can be found here.

Although we didn’t have the amazing sunny weather that we had in Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland was absolutely beautiful. In fact, while we were visiting, there was an epic storm due to some hurricane in the U.S. that was wrecking havoc on the northern coastline.

As a result, the weather was tumultuous and varied from torrential rain to cloudy to brief glimmer of sunshine. Mr. Selfish and I tried to hold out for the brief glimmers of sunshine but we weren’t always the best at predicting when it would occur. There were certainly times when we got caught in torrential downpour.

Below is one of the instances, in which we got lucky with the sunshine:

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This is Dunluce Castle, and although it looks quite scenic on the coast, it is mostly in ruins. We didn’t go in; we just snapped some photos when the sun came out briefly. This is because we were trying to ensure that we had some sunshine at Giant’s Causeway, which was our next stop.

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Chasing Scully: Staying at the Hilton Belfast

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This is post four of fourteen on our trip to Northern Ireland and Croatia, minus our mini Game of Thrones tour. Those posts can be found here.

Mrs. Selfish and I drove for 6 hours from Dublin to Belfast, taking the long way (the drive normally takes an hour or so) during our Game of Thrones tour.  Since we were traveling during peak tourist season, I tried to have us stay in as many chain hotels as possible to mitigate our costs for the trip.

While I normally like to stay at Hyatt hotels, they don’t have much of a footprint in Ireland (though that is changing, with the opening of a Park Hyatt in Dublin this year), so Mrs. Selfish and I fell back on Hilton.

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Bubblin’ in Dublin: Dublin Eats

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This is post three of fourteen on our trip to Northern Ireland and Croatia, minus our mini Game of Thrones tour. Those posts can be found here.

During our stay in Dublin during the Selfish Year, we enjoyed some tasty food. This time around, Mr. Selfish and I figured that we would enjoy some new eats. However, when we asked our cabbie from the airport for food recommendations, he immediately recommended Leo Burdock for fish and chips. So we decided to go back. It was just as good as last time. The fish and chips were perfectly crispy and well-seasoned.

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I think we’ll have to make it a tradition to eat here every time we visit Dublin.

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Recovering from Jetlag in Dublin: Dublin Castle and Trinity College

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This is post two of fourteen on our trip to Northern Ireland and Croatia, minus our mini Game of Thrones tour. Those posts can be found here.

After back-to-back red-eye flights, Mr. Selfish and I landed in Dublin. We were exhausted, me in particular due to the pregnancy. We spent two nights in Dublin and took it pretty easy since we had already been. Of course, last time, we only searched the city for the best pint of Guinness. This time, we figured we would hit up some of the sights.

Dublin Castle: Inside, Out, and Underneath

The first place we visited was Dublin Castle, which was largely completed by 1230. Most of the original construction has not survived, other than the Record Tower (photos below). Today, Dublin Castle is a major Irish government complex.

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Intro to Northern Ireland & Croatia

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This is post one of fourteen on our trip to Northern Ireland and Croatia, minus our mini Game of Thrones tour. Those posts can be found here.

Since Mrs. Selfish is a huge fan of Game of Thrones, I decided to plan a trip for her birthday that would two new locations for us: Northern Ireland and Croatia. The trip spanned 18 days, which would have made for one MASSIVE trip report, so we decided to break it up into two separate trip reports for the sake of simplicity.

If you are interested in our Game of Thrones tour, you can find that report here. Otherwise, this trip report will cover the other things we saw and ate in Northern Ireland, Croatia, and Bosnia.

This trip was INSANE. Seriously crazy. For starters, we kicked off the trip with TWO REDEYES. Yeah. Two.

On US Airways, no less, not on a fancy European, Asian, or Middle Eastern carrier.

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First we flew from San Francisco to Charlotte on a redeye, landing in that city at 8 the following morning. After getting 5 hours of sleep at the Hyatt Place Charlotte, we ate our weight in Carolina BBQ before boarding our 7pm flight to Dublin.

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From there we made our way to the Radisson Blu Dublin, which I booked with 44,000 Club Carlson points for 2 nights. We spent 2 days trying to shake 8 hours of jetlag, hitting old favorites and new sites alike.

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The ever-so-swanky buffet at the Radisson Blu Dublin.

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Day 6 in Croatia: From King’s Landing to Qarth to the House of the Undying

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This is the final post of seven posts on the Selfish’s customized Game of Thrones tour.  Check out the other posts here:

Mr. Selfish and I saved Dubrovnik for our last stop in our Game of Thrones tour. Dubrovnik is the current filming location for King’s Landing and formerly provided the sets for Qarth and the House of the Undying. We knew that it would be the pinnacle of our GoT tour, and we weren’t disappointed.

Looking for Tyrion in King’s Landing

Even though Malta was the filming location for King’s Landing in season 1 of GoT, Dubrovnik has been King’s Landing since seasons 2 forward.

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Although there’s a lot of CG going on in the two above stills, you can still see Dubrovnik all over it. It’s such a beautiful walled city.

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Day 5 in Croatia: Walking in Khaleesi’s footsteps in Meereen

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This is the sixth of seven posts on the Selfish’s customized Game of Thrones tour. Check out the other posts here:

From Split, Mrs. Selfish, Cousin Selfish and I started the 5-hour long drive to Dubrovnik. Our first stop? Klis fortress, the Game of Thrones exterior shot location for the city of Meereen.

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Yeeeaahhh… Klis Fortress doesn’t really look like that.

The actual fortress is pretty damned impressive. Perched high atop a rock bluff, Klis fortress has been a defensive stronghold in the area for over two thousand years.

Klis!

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Day 4 in Croatia: Crashing a Braavos Set and the Masters

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This is the fifth of seven posts on the Selfish’s customized Game of Thrones tour.  Check out the other posts here:

After eight days in Ireland and N. Ireland, Mr. Selfish and I finally made it to Croatia. We met up with Cousin Selfish, who is coincidentally also a Game of Thrones nerd, in Zadar, Croatia.

We stayed a couple of nights in Zadar and visited Plitvice Lakes National Park before heading to Split, Croatia. There wasn’t too much GoT action until we left for Split though, but that’s when things got real.

Kastel Gomilica: A Clandestine Visit to Braavos

On our way to Split, we stopped by Kastel Gomilica since I had read online that they were preparing a filming location for Braavos there. We parked the car near the beach and started walking. We didn’t know where the set was but we could see a picturesque building from afar so we started walking in that direction.

Update: After having watched Season 5 Episode 2, this is indeed where Arya Stark lands in Braavos.

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Day 3 in N. Ireland: Dragonstone, Renly’s Camp, and a Trip to Dorne

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This is the fourth of seven posts on the Selfish’s customized Game of Thrones tour. Check out the other posts here:

After an exciting day traversing the North Eastern side of Northern Ireland, Mrs. Selfish and I settled into our new base camp at Port Stewart. Located just west of Portrush and Giant’s Causeway, Port Stewart is a quaint, seaside town.

After a brief chat with our B&B owner, we learned we had just missed the Game of Thrones crew, who had been in the town a week earlier filming on the local beach!

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Zounds! We were hot on the trail. (Also, not my pic)

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Day 2 in N. Ireland: The Iron Islands, King’s Road, and the Red Woman

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This is the third of seven posts on the Selfish’s customized Game of Thrones tour. Check out the other posts here:

During Day 1 of our Game of Thrones Tour, Mrs. Selfish and I drove from Dublin to Belfast, which was a bit too fast if I’m honest.

Availability to Ireland was tight, so I ended up booking us on 2 Red-eyes to Dublin – TWO! I didn’t even think that was possible, but it is if you do one red-eye to Charlotte North Carolina, crash in a Hyatt Place for 6 hours, then jump on another red-eye to Dublin.

So yeah, kind of brutal. Fortunately, by Day 2 of our unofficial Game of Thrones tour, the jetlag was starting to wear off. Partially thanks to an excellent sleep at the Hilton Belfast, star hotel of Season 1 of “The Fall.”

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Yes! A cameo show location WITHIN another show location tour. Wha??

Ok, ok. So no one watches The Fall. But you should – it is an excellent show about a cop (Gillian Anderson) hunting down a serial murderer in Belfast. Plus, said serial killer is played by the dude that’s slated to be Christian Grey in the upcoming 50 Shades of Grey adaptation (squeal!). But again, I digress…

Day 2 saw us jumping back in the car and tackling Northern Ireland’s North Eastern coast. Despite Northern Ireland’s notoriously shitty weather, it is absolutely gorgeous.

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Day 1 in N. Ireland: The Haunted Forest, Winterfell, and the Twins

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This is the second of seven posts on the Selfish’s customized Game of Thrones tour. Check out the other posts here:

After spending two nights in Dublin, Mr. Selfish and I embarked on our Game of Thrones tour proper. On our drive to Belfast, we had three filming locations on our list – the Haunted Forest, Winterfell, and the Twins.

Tollymore Forest Park is the Haunted Forest

First on our list was Tollymore Forest Park, otherwise known as the Haunted Forest in GoT. The most notable scene in the Haunted Forest/Tollymore is in the first episode of season 1, in which the Stark family discovers the dead dire wolf and her pups.

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Tollymore is a beautiful park with a very large area for exploration. We had to pay admission for our car, which was only 4.5 pounds. As soon as we arrived, we knew we were in the right place to start our GoT tour.

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Yes, that’s a Game of Thrones tour bus with a tour guide all dressed up.

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The Selfish’s Very Own Game of Thrones Tour

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This is the first of seven posts on the Selfish’s customized Game of Thrones tour. Check out the other posts here:

As we were still recovering from the triple jet lag we suffered as a result of our trip to Greece and Taiwan, Mr. Selfish asked me where I wanted to go next. After a brief moment of consideration, I said that we should do a Game of Thrones tour. I had recently become obsessed with the television series and had started reading the books. So just like that, it was settled.

The next step was to figure out where Game of Thrones was filmed. Some quick Googling revealed that GoT has been primarily filmed in Northern Ireland, Malta, Croatia, Morocco, and Iceland.

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The only place that we had previously visited was Morocco, so I decided to skip that location. It seems like you need to visit Iceland during the winter to get the GoT experience, and we were planning our trip in August, so Iceland was out too. That left N. Ireland, Malta, and Croatia.

Mr. Selfish looked at our points and decided that the best routing for us would be to N. Ireland and Croatia.

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