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Interview: Behind the scenes in Rome with Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer

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Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer has taken part in Contiki Legends, recreating travellers' most inspiring memories. As part of the story, she let us in on her own top travel experiences – from scuba diving to art galleries, Lombok to Berlin...

What sort of traveller are you? What are your favourite types of holidays?

I love all sorts. I love walking holidays and skiing with friends, but in recent years I've been so busy with work that I’m only able to go on holiday once a year. Lately it’s tended to be somewhere hot to unwind on a beach and scuba dive.

Because of my job I get a lot of opportunity to grab a few days here and there in many cool cities for press commitments, magazine shoots and premieres —Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Paris, Stockholm, New York, Berlin. I always try to get to a gallery or museum if there's time.

Have you ever been to New Zealand, Asia or Canada, and if not are they on your bucket list?

I have been to Canada several times. It was autumn when I visited Vancouver and I will always remember the colour of the trees in British Columbia were stunning. I have shot in Toronto and find it a very trendy, friendly city. I look forward to having opportunity to go back for the film festival (co-incidentally on right now as I type this). 

 I would love to go to New Zealand and try some of the adventurous stuff to be found in Queenstown. Both my cousin and my brother loved the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. As a family we were all brought up hiking so I'd like to do that.

I definitely need to return to Asia. I got to Bali and Lombok last year. The Gili Islands gave me some of my best scuba diving experiences, including tons of turtles. 

What’s been your most memorable life experience?

Travelling down the western coast of India. We travelled down from Mumbai and into Goa and then much further down into Kerala. I loved Kerala – fresh coconut juice every day! The train system in India is chaotic and fun – it's the best way to see the landscape. Being in with all the families and also the odd animal is a colourful experience you’ll never forget. I would love to go to the Himalayas and cross over into Nepal to do the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Tell us about your partnership with Contiki - what attracted you to this project and why did you want to work with a youth travel brand? Now that you're here are you enjoying playing the role of a Contiki legend and giving it the Hollywood treatment?

Travel is so important in its capacity to expand the mind. It’s exciting to start as young as possible – you get to see how other cultures live, challenge your senses and try different cuisines. Travel also shows you the diverse wildlife we share this planet with and gives you perspective on just how huge the Earth is. 

It was great to meet the Contiki group, all enjoying themselves SO much. My first time to Rome was when I was backpacking with my best friend around Europe for a month at 18 years old, so I remember that excitement of being away from home properly for the first time. I could have done with a Contiki Trip Manager though!

You're from Reading and London based. Can you recommend your favourite places in London for our Contiki travellers, i.e. restaurants, bars, shops, galleries? What are the highlights, in your opinion?

I love the South Bank – there is always something going on down by the river there. It's home to some of our greatest cultural institutions like the National Theatre, the Hayward Gallery, the British Film Institute, the Royal Festival Hall... there’s also the famous outdoor book stall and the skate park with its funky graffiti and groups of young skaters. You can check out the food market down there, hit up great bars and restaurants and visit the Christmas market in December. Plus, you get incredible views of The Thames, St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and central London. You can just stroll along and take in the view.

What is one thing you cannot leave home without and why when you travel?

There are two things. First of all, my yoga mat comes everywhere. Keeps me stretched out after sitting still on all those planes, trains and road journeys.

 You need a great hat too. If it's hot it'll keep the sun off your face, if it's cold it will keep the heat in, if you need to sleep you pull it down over your eyes and if your hair is starting to get a bit greasy from all the travelling, it hides it when you're in desperate need of a shower!

What’s the most amazing shoot location you’ve been on for Game of Thrones?

The most amazing set where I’ve shot Game of Thrones is definitely Croatia, in Dubrovnik. It’s such a stunning country, with lots of good watersports there as well. Just a beautiful, beautiful place...

In the below video, Natalie is in Rome, offering us a behind the scenes look at the shooting of her Contiki Legends video.

Revealing a defining travel moment, she tells us the story of Contiki traveller Chris's time in the Italian capital, and how after getting lost in the city his group was led back to their hotel by “an American girl called Julie” – who happened to be almost completely blind.

The experience taught Chris how to see the city through new eyes – amazingly, those of someone who couldn’t see at all.

You can watch the finished result here, but if you want to get a sneak peek behind the scenes we’ve got the video right here:

Contiki Legends has collected a series of experiences in order to create the world’s best storytellers. Find out more here.

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