The Winds of Dragonstone

Pippin, Merry and I spent the last two weeks travelling together. We went to Bordeaux, Bilbao, Gaztelugatxe, Carcassonne and Lyon – Bordeaux, Bilbao, Carcasonne and Lyon will get their own post soon, because this one is going to focus on Gaztelugatxe. If the title hasn’t given it away, here’s why: because it was partially used for the filming of the scenes in Dragonstone on Game of Thrones, most notably the stairs, and because we’re nerds, that’s the only reason we drove that far in the first place. No regrets. It was beautiful.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a monastery in Basque Country in Spain, not so far from Bilbao, which is why we stayed in Bilbao and drove up from there. The castle isn’t real, of course, which is a bummer – why are the castles never real? And there were no dragons, which is also a bummer. They would have been super useful and could have helped avoid all those damn stairs… oh, well. Good thing we have functioning legs.

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Places We Would Love To Visit

Just as a heads-up, because this list would be way too long if we put every single place we want to go to on it, we thought we’d just make a list of fandom-related place that we want to visit. That narrows it down a tiny bit.

We’ve been to a few by now, but please do share any further additions you may have to this list with us – we are always looking for more places we can visit. Seriously, if you know of any place, let us know about it!


Okay, so here we go.

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There And Back Again, Post 5: Axe Or Sword?

From Wellington, we travelled to the South Island, where we stayed in Picton, Nelson, Greymouth, visited the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, drove to Methven, Kaikoura and Christchurch, and travelled to Hamner Springs and Twizel and hiked to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain.

Sadly, this is going to be the last Middle-Earth New Zealand post. Of course we saw a lot more than just the things we posted about, and technically New Zealand is Middle-Earth, but these were the parts that were actually used in the movies. So, shall we begin?

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There And Back Again, Post 4: Looking For A Shortcut To Mushrooms

From Taihape we drove to Wellington with stops in Napier, Otaki, Plimmerton and Paraparaumu. We stayed in Wellington for a while, and because we had time, we decided to book one of those movie tours they do, where they take you to visit different filming locations. So not only were we sure to be at the right place (sometimes it’s hard to tell), but we were not alone in fangirling/-boying about them. And they had props so we could re-make some of the scenes, which was awesome.



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There And Back Again, Post 3: Finding Mordor

After visiting Narnia, we drove to Hamilton – beautiful Botanical Gardens – and then to Rotorua to walk around the Blue Lake (it bears its name for a very, very good reason. It’s very, very blue). Next stop: the Tongariro National Park. We stayed in a town called Ohakune, located in the Park, in this cute little hostel with the very fitting name The Hobbit Motorlodge – and who are we kidding, of course we chose to stay there because of its name. Oh, and by the way, Ohakune was also the town where they set up camp while filming in Tongariro National Park, so there was the hotel they all staying in down the road from the hostel, which was a bit cool. Okay, back to the Park, because do you know what’s in there, apart from beautiful landscapes and wonderful things? Exactly: some other parts of Middle-Earth. For instance, a volcano, used for the distance shots in The Lord of the Rings. You have guessed correctly: it’s Mount Doom! Kinda.


Mount Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand - AKA Mount Doom

Mount Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand – AKA Mount Doom

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There And Back Again, Post 2: Narnia is actually not to be found in a closet

Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to our second post about our wonderful trip through Middle-Earth. On Valentine’s day in 2014, we left Middle-Earth, and, after having checked our closets for years and years, finally, finally got to see Narnia after all! It’s not in a closet, people. It’s in New Zealand.

There’s not too much to tell, really. It’s a place called Cathedral Cove, and it’s this big limestone arc on a white beach where the ocean is the color of the sky right before turning dark, when the moon has already risen and the world gets quiet. Twilight, as they call it. Anyway, it’s a beautiful place, but it’s New Zealand, where everything is beautiful, so that’s not really surprising. Continue reading