Category: Culture

How To Visit The Game Of Thrones Filming Locations In Southern Spain

Much of Game of Thrones is filmed in Spain, even places you might assume were shot in Ireland like Dragonstone, can be found across the country. Although the Baratheon stronghold is in the north (of Spain) there are many easily accessible filming locations in Andalusia.

Whether or not you’re a Game of Thrones fan, these filming locations in and around the popular southern cities of Seville, Cordoba, and Granada are well worth seeing on their own – dragons or not. You can watch how to get to these sites in the video above or read on.

Starting Point

Those of you who are in or planning a trip to Seville, Cordoba, or Granada have several good choices for Game of Thrones (GoT) sites to visit. Keep in mind if you’re going to be in Granada, your best bet is two separate day trips toward Seville or Cordoba. Seville is roughly a 2 hour 45 minute drive and Cordoba about 20 minutes closer to Granada.

real alcazar de seville

Go For The Closest

In Seville, there’s  the Real de Alcazar where parts of Dorne were filmed. The palace is a major tourist attraction in the city and its gardens are well known to GoT fans. (The show’s first choice was the Alhambra but those plans fell through.) Be sure to get your tickets online otherwise you’ll be waiting up to 30 minutes or more to enter.

real de alcazar seville dorne

Since we’re already in Seville – a 15 minute drive just outside the city is the 2,000+ year old Roman Italica Amphitheatre Jon Snow would recognize as Dragonpit of King’s Landing. Further out, roughly an hour from Seville or 90 minutes from Cordoba or Granada, is the Osuna bullring. It’s no longer used for bullfighting but rather to attract tourists to this small town. The Plaza de Toros bullring isn’t open everyday so be sure to check the schedule before driving there.

Being Picky

In case you don’t have a lot of time and want to be selective of where you go, I would recommend setting aside a day and visiting Highgarden, er, Castillo de Almodovar del Rio, outside of Cordoba. It has to be one of the most picturesque places I’ve seen personally, beautifully perched on the top of a large hill overlooking the town below.

almodovar del rio

It doesn’t get a lot of tourists but what’s especially endearing is Almodovar know why you’re at the castle so to help you navigate, they’ve put up handy photos showing you what GoT scenes were filmed where.

castillo de almodovar balcony thrones

Castillo de Almodovar del Rio is one of those places many would miss but you’ll be glad GoT brought you to this Moorish castle from the 8th century.

Tips On Getting Around

In theory you could do this all in one very, long day. Rather, I’d recommend splitting these up into two day trips, depending on which city you’re staying in. (Let me also add the Roman Bridge in Cordoba, the entrance to Volantis in GoT.) Rent a car, roughly 25-40 Euro per day, and you can save a lot of time on buses to get to all of these places. Renting a car also gives you the flexibility to move at your own schedule, plus pull over to catch some spectacular views along the way.

The Curious Case Of Kuwait

kuwait towers

The small State of Kuwait as it’s officially known doesn’t get many visitors, making it easy to assume the nation of 4 million resembles its oil-rich neighbors. Kuwait City does look a lot like them but with far fewer recreational visitors, there’s not much to convey what makes Kuwait distinct.

It may be because of that cover that Kuwait is intangibly unexpected.

Quick To Skip

Less than 2% of Kuwait’s GDP comes from tourism. Location and local competition make Kuwait blend in, so for most tourists, it’s a stop or complete skip over. Culturally however, Kuwait is surprisingly unique in several ways, challenging norms of the region.

Kuwait’s economy is solidly average in terms of freedoms according to The Heritage Foundation, hardly shocking considering it’s the 4th richest nation in the world (thanks to oil). Less obvious though is that Kuwait has the freest press in the region, besting several Balkan European countries, including an EU member. Obviously southeastern Europe is not a region known for its press freedoms – neither is the Persian Gulf – though comparing backdrops, both standout in different ways.

Kuwait also holds some of the highest approval ratings of the United States in the region, including of certain presidents as well.

Dewaniya Discussion

A dewaniyah has many variations but in Kuwait it is a forum for discussion. Traditionally in homes, there are local dewaniyah buildings where men go to discuss issues. Rather than censor or circumvent the dewaniyah, the government uses them as an engagement point with citizens. Politicians (half of the parliament is publicly elected) often make their cases at dewaniyahs, a focal point of Kuwaiti culture.

kuwait city skyline

None of this is to say Kuwait is a liberal democracy – yet there remains an informal understanding discussions at the dewaniyah have some flexibility to push societal norms. (Several less formal dewaniyahs may also include women.) Additionally it’s worth pointing out nearly 70% of the population are foreign workers, who have no opportunity to become citizens and use the voice that comes with it. Criticizing the emir too carries with it harsh punishments.

Evolving Traditions

One of the most impressive science museums in the world, The Kuwait Science and Natural History Museum covers technology, climate change, and evolution. The three put into frame with the first two being the products of humanity while outside of the third. Perhaps it says more to my ignorance than Kuwait’s tolerance but taken as a whole, in relative context, the difference here versus what’s across nearby borders is compelling.

Religious freedoms are balanced in a way reminiscent to Malaysia, impressive as a snapshot in time. Where things get really intriguing is the trend: what direction do places like Kuwait go from here? There are multiple forks in the road, like everywhere, that decide the general course; making Kuwait an interesting place to see for yourself.

Why You Should Visit Granada, Spain

Granada is the only place to ever be voted by you, twice (and in a row), the Best City to Visit. With the 2019 contest nominations coming up in February (here’s where to enter your city), I wanted to show you all the intangible reasons Granada, Spain has deserved the top spot for the past two years. For many travelers, Granada tends to be a day trip from nearby Seville or Cordoba, but as you’ll see in video above, that’s how they miss the best parts of southern Spain.

Map Of Recreational Marijuana Laws Around The World (Updated Regularly) So You Can Enjoy Weed Legally

washington monument

This map is now available in app form! GrassFox is available on the App Store and Google Play.

wifox ios app store     wifox google play android
Have you ever visited a new city, caught a strong whiff of something familiar, then thought: I wonder if marijuana is legal here? This is a question I had in Uruguay most recently, since cannabis was being smoked everywhere. At the time Uruguay was the only country to have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. (Hello Canada!) Since then, other countries, cities, states, and various jurisdictions have developed a highly patchwork set of rules that can be confusing for travelers.

The Map Of Recreational Marijuana Laws

Information in the map below shows you where recreational marijuana use is legal, decriminalized, illegal, and all of the restrictions, conditions, plus grey areas from the legal jargon; developed using official sources and updated as the laws change. And although there is a lot of red on the map indicating “illegal”, if you click on any of the icons there are often more details indicating things aren’t quite so cut and dry (check out Spain, for example). Disclaimer time: remember, the map is intended to be used as a guide only, remember you’re responsible for knowing, following, and obey all local laws.

  • Last update: January 17, 2019

Unlike alcohol, which is typically either legal or not, cannabis is most often decriminalized rather than legalized in places with more liberal drug laws. I developed this resource because a lot of places where you might assume cannabis is legal or decriminalized isn’t, much of the information online is simply wrong, or the details from the law poorly interpreted on other websites.

Updates And More Information

Please feel free to leave a comment below or email me if you believe any of the information requires an update or clarification. By making this a collaborative effort the map can help more travelers (often hesitant to ask or relying on local hearsay) understand and obey local cannabis laws.

marijuana graffiti

Be sure to read the details on the entries of the map, including U.S. states, for details. Always assume entries with no data mean cannabis is illegal and don’t equate decriminalization to mean legal. Red entries indicate cannabis is illegal, yellow represents decriminalized, and the green leaf, you guessed it, legal. All of the data is regarding recreational marijuana use, not medical, or other circumstances.

I have also developed an associated app, GrassFox for iOS and Android, that has user experiences travelers can share with each other as well as details on what some grey legal areas look like in practice.

Before You Get High

There are a few things to keep in mind before you go attempt to obtain marijuana anywhere, especially when traveling, that didn’t fit on the map. (More grey areas.) Several countries where marijuana is illegal forbid visitors, citizens, and residents from having used cannabis abroad, even in places it was legal. Additionally, many companies have restrictions on their employees using cannabis. Also, don’t travel with cannabis.

Lastly, in many places shown above where marijuana has been decriminalized, possession may be permitted but purchasing or selling are not. Clearly, never do the latter, and be reasonable. In case all of this has thrown you off, there’s a more widely accepted psychoactive drug that’s a lot easier to find in much of the world.

One Of The Best Bars In The World Is Fun Fun In Montevideo, Uruguay

bar fun fun montevideo

The perfect bar is barely lit and a bit too crowded. Where all practical concerns for the sober mind dissolve with one drink after another causing live melancholic music to become the emotional equivalent of nuclear fusion for human joy. A place where time gets lost. You might have a place like that in your own life, and if so, you’ll love Bar Fun Fun.

From the outside Bar Fun Fun in Montevideo, Uruguay, is an unassuming brick hole with tightly packed tables – some come for the evening, others stay for the night – serving a variety of appetizers and its signature drink made on site, uvita. Fermented grapes, sugar, and other undisclosed ingredients it tastes something of a toxic fruit punch. There’s a number of snacks as well, heavy bar foods to prepare you for one uvita too many.

Reserve Your Spot

Weekends are busy so you’ll need to reserve a spot to make sure you’re not in the unofficial standing room of anywhere there’s space. Plenty of tourists have found out about Bar Fun Fun but there aren’t too many in Montevideo to begin with, so you don’t feel like you’re in alcoholic Disneyland.

At the entrance there are the local regulars catching a smoke. Around the tiny stage several seniors whose wrinkles are lit up in red or purple reflections of the neon lights. Shows usually start at Fun Fun with some music and comedy, with enough breaks in between acts for everyone to continue their conversations.

Tango The Night Away

Bar Fun Fun opens at 9pm and once the lighter music has concluded, it’s time to tango. The tango at Fun Fun is intense, precise and calculated, with plenty of emotion to spare for the crowd. The schedule of these shows vary throughout the week, Thursdays are particularly nice since it’s not as packed a house as the weekend. (Bar Fun Fun is closed on Sunday and Mondays).

uvita montevideo bar fun fun

The magic in the dance is how captivate the audience is, well on to their third, fourth, and fifth rounds of wine, beer, or uvita. The waitstaff also seem more relaxed at this point, as food service ends and they can slow down a bit to focus on just serving drinks. Did I mention the staff are warmly edgy? All adding to the ambiance of familiarity you’ve immediately fallen into.

Fun Fun Not For Everyone

Bar Fun Fun will feel an uninspiring experience for those who dip their toes in what’s a pretty popular recommendation on TripAdvisor. Travelers who don’t like late nights and aren’t willing to stay into the later hours of tango, will miss the best part afterward: the voice of Ricardo Olivera.

By this time in the night, the crowd at Bar Fun Fun has become a collective consciousness, being lead where the music takes them. Much like in Turkey, where the best accompaniment to raki is good conversation, friends sing and cheers, embracing the fact the next morning will be a bit rougher than normal. Chances are if you’ve read this far or your fondness for such places has been peaked, Bar Fun Fun in Montevideo will endear itself to you as well. Salud.

Beirut Might Be The City That Explains Us All

beirut corniche

At the airport in Athens the young guy behind the counter asked me for my final destination, “Beirut,” I replied. His confused looked was followed by, “are you sure?” He wasn’t joking.

What I expected to find was a city struggling after years of war, in one of the worst regional neighborhoods in the world, mixed with 18 officially recognized religions who’ve all fought at some point. It sounds like a recipe for disaster and in fairness, much of its recent history has not been good. But somehow now, Beirut is working, and working well.

Everyone should visit here. Beirut’s a vibrant city that’s as good, bad, nuanced, and hypocritical as any of us. The deceptively polished corniche is a few blocks away from expensive, modern shopping centers that sit mostly empty – built for (often wealthy) Gulf state Arabs who come to enjoy fermented beverages and fashion not acceptable back home. If your style is more burqa, that’s fine too. Popular restaurants are popular with everyone, so long as you don’t preach to the table next to you.

empty beirut

Beirut is glaringly tolerant, I must be missing something.

Spruced up shopping districts are dotted with cranes meant for new high rises in between broken buildings from Israel’s 2006 bombardment of the city. Some facades have numerous bullet holes that looks almost unreal. Across the street you’ll find the best falafel in the world. Side-by-side businesses run by two brothers who hate each other, but not enough to move their shops apart. These guys have survived all Beirut has seen – the horror that was whatever caused all those bullet holes – but haven’t spoken in over a decade. The constant reminder that life is short staring these two 60-year old siblings in the face isn’t enough to budge their pride or falafel shops.

bullet holes beirut

A walk from the corniche to the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Badaro is a 30 minute history reel as you walk through conservative Muslim neighborhoods, then past military fortifications behind barbed wire, after McDonald’s, and a few hipster-enticing pubs.

Beirut has seen some shit. And the city doesn’t hide it.

israel lebanon

Maybe that’s why it seems to work, at least now. Maybe things have to get so bad for so long, that people simply got sick of trying to solve all the problems. Like the falafel brothers, the defacto state seems to be: you’re free to do what you want, but don’t tell me what to do – no matter how close we are, even if you’re literally next door.

Complicated recipes are usually easier to screw up, but Beirut’s blend might be getting something right. The secret sauce seems to defy all conventional wisdom so I hope someone is taking notes, nobody here wants to start from scratch.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More


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