“Aw, c’mon. Please?”
“No way. I didn’t do it when I was young and I’m sure as hell not going to do it in my late thirties.”
“How many times will we actually BE in Kings Landing?”
“Forget it, fanboy. Why the hell should I do it? Why don’t you do it?”
“Because I’m already blond-ish.”
“Not Targaryen blond.”
This is Dubrovnik. You may recognize the terracotta rooftops and the slow rise to a cliff’s edge as the setting for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones.
Once a republic of Yugoslavia, Croatia declared independence in 1991. Dubrovnik has a rich history of wars, harvests, and sieges, which was fascinating to read about on our journey there. However, since we were only there for a short time we were more interested in the fake history the town is now widely known for. Before I go on, I will get this out of the way. I caved into Kenny’s request and dyed my hair for the first time in my life. I looked like an aged 80s pop act. I will say nothing more on this matter (though the pictures speak for themselves). Don’t judge me!
The shame. But more of that a little later…
Dubrovnik is now a thriving tourist city, thanks to the cruise ships docking in the port and the daytrippers from other nearby Croatian resorts. We decided to take the walking Game of Thrones tour with audio headsets. There were guided tours, and the few with which we crossed paths sounded very knowledgeable and included the real history of the city. But since the weather was incredibly hot – over 100° F, and made worse by the heat radiating from every stone surface in the city – we decided to take the tour at our own leisure, affording ourselves the chance to stop, drink, or paddle in the water without fear of holding up a group.
We started at the location that served as the bottom half of the House of the Undying, where Daenerys finally discovered the answer to her infamous question “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS?!”
Next, we headed to the wide stone steps that Cersei descended on the start of her walk of atonement. Kenny was thrilled to follow behind me and shout ‘Shame!’ at me while asking random strangers if they believed I was a natural blond.
It was brilliant to see first-hand how the producers of the show have used the city’s narrow alleys, steep and numerous stone steps, and guarded pathways around the city to film the series. There are, of course, elements that are missing, such as the Sept of Baelor and the Red Keep, that obviously are digitally inserted, but overall it didn’t seem like they had changed a great deal of the scenery within the actual city.
Whether due to the booming tourist trade or their desire to keep the city as a film location for Game of Thrones or future films, I was struck by how immaculate the city was. Considering the hoard of daily visitors going through the gates, the local government clearly made it a priority to keep the surroundings pristine.
Even without the Game of Thrones treatment, Dubrovnik is a spectacularly beautiful city. I’m sure that genuine history buffs could spend a week or more wandering the city and the surrounding areas. But for the more, shall we say, shallow and pop culture obsessed , it made for an incredibly memorable day or so.