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Queen in the North (Move over, Sansa)

Let’s see. This weekend I was crowned Queen in the North in the same exact spot where Robb Stark was crowned King in the North on Game of Thrones. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty stellar weekend.


Before I begin relaying my weekend of adventure, I have to concede that my favorite day of the school week is assuredly Thursdays, even though that’s the day I have two three-hour classes. But Richard Sharpe is a hilarious professor who willingly goes off on tangents to explain British historical and cultural phenomena to us. He gave us the low-down on Princess Di and Charles’ legacy in addition to yes, it is as embarrassing as it sounds, the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Don’t worry th

ough, now we all have it squared away.

In the afternoon, Justin Lorentzen showed us the coolest BBC documentary on musicians of the 1960’s/70’s and the numerous British invasions and American music crossovers between artists we all know and love–Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, The Animals, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix. I loved it so much (and also wanted to get it for my dad) that my professor is giving me a copy. How kind!  Basically, it’s all about the blues’ influence and how much young Brits wanted to get their hands on all records of it from America. Of course, I listened to The Rolling Stones all night and sent my parents my notes from class.

I also tried our friendly neighborhood Gail’s for the first time on Thursday. The shopkeeper complimented my “jumper” (aka sweater) and I got a punch card–love those!


Anyway, onto our first big weekend out! Friday we ventured to the beautiful Hampton Court Palace, where half the architecture is of Tudor (as in, the scandalous Henry VIII)

 style and the other is of Baroque (William and Mary). I always think of my line when I played Cogsworth the Clock in Beauty and the Beast in 5th grade where I said: “If it’s not baroque, don’t fix it!” Maybe that was another sign of my love affair with all things Anglo-Saxon, as I had to perform the role with a British accent….Back to the palace. We strutted around wearing fun “Tudo

r-esque” robes upon first entering the majestic former home of Cardinal Wolsey. Emphasis on the -esque. When I first learned of Henry VIII’s tumultuous reign in my history classes in school and later watched The Tudors, Hampton Court Palace was a backdrop frequently mentioned, so visiting the place where Anne Boleyn entertain

ed the courtiers who would go on to behead her at the Tower of London and where Catherine Howard pleaded with Henry VIII for mercy after her supposed declaration of love for Thomas Culpeper was immensely gratifying.

We also strolled

through the gorgeous gardens and successfully made it through the maze! Not so difficult, but difficult enough that we missed the statue in the center the first time. So we went ba

ck in and did it again! The painted ceilings inside the Edwardian quarters were such a blessing to view and made me look forward to all the amazing artwork I will hopefully see during these next few months (in addition to the rest of my life!).

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Post-palace, Claudia and I tried Pieminister (yay!!) and had some awesome “chicken fungi” pie. So grateful for our housing situation considering that we can walk 5 minutes and are staring out at the Thames along the South Bank.

Saturday was time for DUBLIN!!! Woo!!! We took the coach to Gatwick. My mom told me when I was a kid that she would simply drive me around as a baby when I was tired, because I would knock out in a matter of minutes. Still true today, especially on that 2+ hour delayed ride to the airport. On the bright side, Gatwick is a lovely and charming airport and security should work that smoothly always. Por favor. The flight itse

lf–LESS than an hour!!! European traveling IS WHAT’S UP.

When we got in though, it was pouring rain and by the time we finally made it to our airbnb, we were toast. Plus, um, the living situation for a group of our size was beyond less than ideal. The shower was either scalding or freezing. Plus 3 of us had to squeeze in a bed. Barely. Completely false advertising for how many people this place could fit. AND she had zero wi-fi. Girl, how do you live in the 21st century?

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We went to an American café (go figure) in the Temple Bar district because that was the only place open past 10pm and made a new friend named

Ian. Plus, I almost got run over by a horse thanks to my impeded vision from my raincoat hood. I survived though.

The next morning we went on a GAME OF THRONES TOUR that took us from Dublin up through NORTHERN IRELAND. Most scenic, serene, beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Can I retire or just up and move here now, please? But preferably during seasons when GoT is shooting.

Our tour guide Eric is a Wildling extra on GoT and so obviously so because of his long hair, beard, and stature. He’s the same height as Brienne! He was in “Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards!” He was so enthusiastic about the show but not to a rabid, fanatic point, providing for the perfect aloof meets dude totally burgeoning with excitement demeanor to make the t

rek such an enjoyable experience for all of us. Even for all my friends who came with me who don’t even watch the show!!!! Plus he’s going to be in SEASON 7. WOO!

Early on there was a trivia game on the bus, “Brain of Thrones,” that we all played, and the winner would be crowned King or Queen in the North at the end of the tour once we reached Inch Abbey holding Ned Stark’s sword “Ice” in his or her arms. I thought

the questions were pretty tough–but I 100% knew the Lannister saying was “Hear Me Roar” and not “A Lannister always pays his debts”–and never thought I would win since other people on the bus probably knew more than I. BUT once it was over, Eric called out for people to raise their hands if they got 5 questions or more right. I did. Then 6, then 7, 8, and finally 9. I didn’t know it, but my friend Kristy tapped me on the shoulder since she was in the aisle and could see everyone else’s hands on the bus had gone down. I’d WON! I was THE QUEEN IN THE NORTH. I WAS SO FREAKING E

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F is for filming


LATED OMG. The fact I was on a Game of Thrones TOUR and now was overtaking Sansa as Lady of Winterfell was thrilling.

The whole day was cool as people kept saying phrases like “Long live the Queen in the North” and “the North remembers.” Once in a lifetime memory, really. We drove past the Mourne Mountains–C.S. Lewis’ inspiration for NARNIA–and arrived in Tollymore Forest in Newcastle.

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Here, in this gorgeous fairy tale forest, they filmed the opening scene where Wills found the White Walkers in the first episode. The creepy tree where the girl was pinned to its bark and the foreboding arrangement of stones on the ground are still there!

Next we went to the spot where Tyrion and Jon Snow talk about their feelings as outcasts among their families on thei

r way up to the Wall and Tyrion relays the great line: “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.”

I’m sitting where Tyrion sat!!!!! My fave character, not to exclude my alias Lord Varys, certainly.

We then gallivanted through the forest as if we were the Stark clan themselves until we stopped at th

e spot where they found their direwolves!! Fun fact: Ghost would NOT stay still so a little boy had to dress up as a BUSH so Kit Harington could grab Ghost for the shot.


We then traveled to The Lobster Pot in a small seaside village called Strangford for lunch. We tried Irish coffee but were not fans. Should’ve known better than trying to order that at a seafood restaurant.


But the ultimate surprise was meeting and petting SUMMER AND GREY WIND. YES. THE ACTUAL DIREWOLVES FROM GOT. Well, they’re of the Inuit breed, but you understand. Two of Eric’s friends, who are both tour guides, bought the dogs for 1000 pounds each. And they’re each insured for 1 MILLION pounds. Insane. But we got to meet them. They’re so

adorable!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT’S an awesome surprise.

We then went to Old Castle Ward –aka WINTERFELL. YES. I went to WINTERFELL!!!!! Where we were introduced to the majority of our fateful characters for the first time.

We then went to the ravine where Brienne drags Jaime as prisoner under Catelyn’s command and they see the hanging tree, where Brienne shows us yet again how fierce she is, taking

down three men in quite the efficient and just fashion.

And little did we know, but Audley’s Castle, aka “The Twins” (they enlarged

and duplicated the building) was just down the road! No wonder the Starks and Tullys are so close. Bad joke, but really “Riverrun” was just down the road.

The view from there was BEAUTIFUL! And was where we took the shot featured at the very top of this post.

Our last stop on the tour was Inch Abbey. THE *Queen* in the North spot. The entire group put on our cloaks and Eric handed me “Ice,” which was very heavy, as you would expect. Everyone got down on one knee and I stood above them all holding “Ice” à la Ned Stark. It felt so surreal and I was so giddy that I couldn’t stop laughing and smiling the entire time, especially as they began chanting “the Queen in the North.” That was one of the coolest moments I’ve ever experienced.

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We then took the bus home as the first two GoT episodes along with the Red Nose Day Coldplay

special were shown. I clonked out, of course.

Back in Dublin, we then met up with my girl Katrina’s older sister Jess and her boyfriend Eanna for drinks and dinner! It was so fun seeing her a

nd felt like a piece of home. So happy to see her doing so well and everyone go see her show Reasons To Be Pretty in December!!!

Also had a reallyyyyyy good Shepherd’s pie at Searsons before heading over to Dicey’s for our last night in Dublin! It was

pouring rain, but we had a blast dancing after a long

 day.

The next day, after breakfast at “Woodstock Café” and the most delectable raspberry scone–I’m telling you, I could live on a diet of scones–we checked out of our airbnb (PEACE) and went on a tour of Guinness!!! The factory was decked out like a museum and honestly sans the beer, could’ve been an awesome flat one would find in the Arts District in LA. Plus, we saw a history of the advertising Guinness has used throughout the years. This

quote/display mash-up is the GREATEST.

After going to the Gravity Bar and seeing a 360 degree view of Dublin we went on a horse-drawn carriage ride to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. You had to PAY to get in, but it was worth it. Jonathan Swift was actually a dean there. Who knew?

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We then got some coffee and flew home to our lovely London. On the plane and tube rides home, I finally finished The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Starkly (get it?) different from the Disney film, obviously, and the ending is one of the most tragic conclusions of an unrequited love story (or multiple, in this case).


I had such an amazing trip to Ireland–and Northern Ireland!–and I’m so happy to have this chance to explore the world with my new friends and even see some old ones. But finally coming home to Waterloo Station, taking a long, aptly-temperatured shower, and sleeping in a bed where I could stretch my legs felt so, so good.

Cheers, Tara xx

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