The Twins of House Frey are impressive. They rise up from the river flats, two hulking sentinels occupying either shore of the swift Green River. Joined by a bridge and the center Water Tower, if is a challenging fortress to assail and conquer.
So far on our trip we’ve walked through museums rife with emotion. One of the worst is the Twins, the infamous site of the Red Wedding. The hall is normal, now, draped in tapestries of fishing folk and portraits of the Frey family. The wooden floors gleam with wax, and the air is floral. A fire burns in the center of the hall—not a real fire but a hologram of one—making the hall welcoming and even homey. But I couldn’t wander through without pondering the horror of the murders that took place there.
The view from the causeway is stunning. The silver river is broader than the Mississippi here as it flows south through the valley to join the Trident. Tawny hills with every shade of orange and brown roll up to a sky mottled with clouds. Gulls wheel in the sky, and along the river banks herons stood and geese floated in the shallows.
We’d booked too late to land a two-night stay in the guest quarters of the Water Tower, to share the same room Catelyn Tully occupied. But our room in the eastern tower was room, and warm, and I spent long minutes watching the river.
My husband was very much looking forward to the Iron Islands, and I have to say I was sorry to leave the Twins—despite their horrific past. We travelled to Seagard to embark on the several-hour catamaran cruise to Pyke. This was a lovely trip, as the Iron Islands rose out of the windy sea, rocky peaks topped with fortresses, seabirds circling the cliffs, and not a tree of blade of grass in sight anywhere.
We’d been warned to dress warmly and were glad of our down jackets, woolly hats and thermals. It was cold!! Worse, I thought, than Winterfell, and probably because of the damp. Moisture was everywhere, coating the slate-colored bluffs, the stone castle walls, and everything else.
But there was no time to fret about the cold, and the staff kept us busy as if to keep our minds off our numb fingers. They staged a Drowned God ceremony that was scarily authentic. We boarded a war galley and sailed out into the bay—here we had our chance at the oars, but I declined. My husband tried it and kept up pretty well, even at “ramming speed”. He earned a special button emblazoned with the Ironborn kraken.
The ships are amazing and huge. There were hundreds—it seemed, anyway—in the bay. Their bowsprits were carved into krakens, resembling giant squid with blazing, even eyes.
We stayed at Great Wyk, the outermost island, as we had been advised that was the most sheltered place. But “sheltered” on the Iron Islands is relative. It was so windy the sand struck our faces if we ventured out onto the walkways.
There is a fine portrait of Theon Greyjoy. The staff have hung it alongside that of Asha Greyjoy, despite his spotty reputation. Many of the halls have been dedicated to the warrior-like, violent Ironborn: Euron and Victarion among them. There was a startling depiction of Aeron “Damphair”, before his devotion to the Drowned God. In the painting he is really the prettiest of them all.
After three exhausting days on the Iron Islands, we returned to Seagard and were flown to Baelish Keep on the Fingers. It was prettier than I expected and very relaxing. There was even a spa! This, of course was all in preparation for the Eyrie, as we had been warned that this leg of the tour was the most vigorous of all.
Next week: The Eyrie, Riverrun, Harrenhal and Dragonstone.