Visit the land of the “Game of Thrones”


When it comes to the British Isles, Ireland has been a popular stomping ground for tourists who are drawn by the culture, friendly folk and beautiful countryside. But Northern Ireland has been largely absent from most traveler’s minds as a result of The Troubles in Northern Ireland's more recent history.  But today the main troubles may be the latest conquests on Westeros and Essos from "Game of Thrones."

If you’re a fan of the HBO series, “Game of Thrones,” perhaps you didn’t know it is filmed in Belfast and Northern Ireland. Or that C.S. Lewis, who dreamed up Narnia, that other fantasy world, grew up here. Or that Belfast has been referred to as ‘the Athens of the North’ because of its beautiful Victorian architecture.

On a recent visit, I was taken by the beauty of the city. For years our only awareness of Belfast had been in the context of riots and violence. But peace has been in place since 1998, and Northern Ireland is changing.

Of course, there’s more to see in Northern Ireland, including The Giant’s Causeway, one of the world’s popular tourist attractions. Having an interest in cruise travel, visiting Titanic’s history here was fascinating. The HMS Titanic was designed, built and fitted out in Belfast, and since my visit, a new Titanic Belfast museum has opened, built at the slipway on which Titanic was originally built and from which it was launched.

With a new series of “Downton Abbey” coming our way, you might even fancy visiting some of the fabulous country estates outside of Belfast in Northern Ireland.