The following email was submitted to the podcast (and others) with information about Braavos (where Stannis and Davos visited). Enjoy this wealth of spoiler free information and thanks to Harrel for the effort.
Dear Lords of Podcasting:
I am anticipating confusion about the upcoming appearance of the city of Braavos in the series, so just to help with this:
1) I would point out that Braavos is modeled on the Italian city of Venice and the medieval Republic of Venice, which was in existence for over a thousand years, from 697 to 1797.
2) I’m attaching a map of Braavos and a map showing wear Braavos fits in the world of ASOIF.
3) Below, I’m placing a link to an excellent spoiler free site that provides historical background for non-book readers. I’ve gone ahead and pasted an edited version of its excerpt on Braavos beneath the link. Hope you find this useful!
Braavos is the only Free City to not be a Valyrian colony. It sits on a lagoon in the northwestern end of Essos, at the junction of the Narrow Sea (between Westeros and Essos) and the Shivering Sea (above Essos). Braavos also claims the coastline to the southwest. The ruler of Braavos is known as the Sealord. Braavos has one of the largest ports in the world.
Braavos was founded by slaves fleeing Valyrian expansion. They were led by the Moonsingers, who wished to hide in the lagoon to keep away from the dragons. For centuries, it was a secret city and remained relatively unknown to the rest of the world. After the Doom of Valyria, it was publicly revealed, roughly 400 years after its founding. The city is sometimes known as the Bastard Son of Valyria.
The culture of Braavos is centered around sea trade. Braavosi ships paint their hulls purple, and their ships trade with all corners of the world. The Iron Bank of Braavos is one of the major moneylenders of Braavos.
The city is also known worldwide for its courtesans. Each courtesan has their own barge and servants. Their beauties inspire songs, and they are showered by gifts. Nobility and rich merchants pay for courtesans to be their dates at events.
Braavos culture created a unique form of sword fighting, called Water Dancing, in which the fighter stands sideways and wields a slender blade. Braavosi fill the city, dueling to display skill.
The symbol of Braavos is the Titan, which is both a fortress and an immense statue which sits over the entrance to the Braavos port. The only notable Braavosi in the show so far is Syrio Forel, the First Sword of Braavos for a time.
Braavos is also the location of the Faceless Men (we’ve met Jaqen H’ghar), a group of assassins who change their faces.