The Reluctant Traveler Returns from Westeros, Part 4

King’s Landing, Casterly Rock and Highgarden.

The Iron Throne by Marc Simonett

After the dark spookiness of Harrenhal, King’s Landing, as disreputable and dishonorable as its rulers were, was a welcome sight. It is indeed a beautiful place, seen from our small plane as we swooped in for a Blackwater Bay landing. Its red towers soar up from the water, and the Lion flag flies from every spire. It was early morning when we landed, and the rising sun seemed to set the city on fire; there was also a warm, oriental feel to the air, and the fragrance of cinnamon and curry.

The quays are busy with galleys large and small. Everything was incredibly authentic, with employees dressed as every possible denizen: smallfolk, liegemen, Gold Cloaks, septas. We were led to our rooms on the Hill of Rhaenys, with views of the Great Sept of Baelor to the south and the Red Keep to the east. We were given the option of dressing in the style of King’s Landing, and I chose a flowing red and yellow garment of light linen fabric. My husband preferred not to “play dress-up”, but he did wear a jester’s hat as we walked the streets.

The Great Sept—having been rebuilt—is awe-inspiring with its massive seven-sided circular hall, overlooked by each of the Seven, and its crystal towers glinted beautifully at night, lit up from within by colored lights. It’s a little garish steals some of the authenticity of the city, but beautiful just the same.

Our tour of the Red Keep was the King’s Landing highlight and should not be missed. They take you through the cellars, where the dragon heads loom in niches. Balarion’s lower mandible alone is taller than my husband, and he is a very tall

Red Keep Dragon Skull by Kim Pope

man. To add to the wonders, the skull of Drogon hangs above the Iron Throne. This is a sight that should never be missed, even on the shortest tour offered. The Iron Throne itself, seen in real life, is nothing like the tiny replica shown in the series. It stands over 20 feet high, a tangled ugly mass of metals. Iron steps lead up to the royal seat. The Throne itself is roped off, but replicas of the seat line the walls of the Great Hall. It is very uncomfortable, I will say. One has to sign a waiver promising not to sue if you get a cut.

Kings Landing, Game of Thrones

After 3 wonderful days and nights in King’s Landing, we flew to Casterly Rock—getting more of House Lannister than anyone can stomach. Portraits of House Lannister fill the Golden Gallery, along with many gold objects and treasures: entire place-settings, lamps, even chairs all of solid gold. Here you will see portraits of Cersei and Jaime and their father, Lord Tywin. Tyrian Lannister’s portrait is not shown here, but resides in King’s Landing in the Great Hall. Casterly Rock is a comfortable castle, build into the rock in a warren of tapestried rooms, and beautiful too— with gold trims around the doorways and along the many balconies looking over the Sunset Sea.

After one night in Casterly Rock, with plenty of time to explore the The Lion’s Mouth—a remarkable cavern with the capacity to off and on-load great ships and house an entire army—I was ready to move on to Highgarden. As our plane lifted off, the pilot pointed out again how like a lion in repose the Rock looked, but I couldn’t see it.

Casterly Rock by Feliche

Highgarden Castle by Ted Nasmith

Highgarden Castle of House Tyrell is a fairyland of groves, gardens, a briar labyrinth, and birds of the most amazing colors. It is built of beautiful marble, and from its walls one can see orchards and vineyards as far as the eye can see. It reminded me of the Napa Valley, almost, but far lusher and more fragrant. But the most stunning sight are the rose gardens, luckily for us in full bloom. The odors from the garden are intoxicating. We bought a case of wine to ship home, and ordered cuttings for our garden.

After the past 3 weeks, I confess a longing to get home again. But I wouldn’t trade the final days of our tour. We are bound for Oldtown, then Sunspear. We watched the sun set from our rooms at Highgarden, and talked about our mixed feelings, the wonders we had seen. I think at that time, we talked more about how much we missed our dogs.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison

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