Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Trip Day 7, Doune Castle and Wallace Monument

Day 7 of our trip was one of my favorites for we went to Camelot! Rather, we went to Doune Castle, where they filmed Monty Python and The Holy Grail!

Doune Castle where they filmed Monty Python and The Holy Grail in Doune, Scotland

It's only a model.

Seriously, I was so excited when I learned we were able to take a short bus ride there from Stirling when planning our trip. I visited the ScotlandTheMovie.com website because I was intent on seeing at least some filming locations from two of my favorite movies, Monty Python and The Holy Grail and HIGHLANDER. Regrettably we couldn't fit any Highlander locations into the trip... "Another time MacLeod!"

Mark Bussler standing on stairs at Doune Castle used in the filming of Monty Python and The Holy Grail

"There can be only one."

Damn right, these are the stairs that John Cleese (Sir Lancelot) ran up to save Terry Jones' character, Prince Herbert, from the tower. You know the scene of which I speak. That's me racing up the stairs to tour the castle.

Interior of Doune Castle

Look familiar? Just a hint: they built stairs on the right side for the movie.

Doune Castle was a surprise because it was the best castle I could have imagined visiting, even without the Monty Python connection. Let me explain. We took a bus (#59) to Doune, walked through the town to the castle and entered the gate and hallway that John Cleese runs through when attacking the wedding party..

Courtyard at Doune Castle which was finished around 1420 AD

You can barely see her, but my wife is clacking two halves of a coconut shell together by the steps. The book store in the castle was featured in the DVD special features of The Holy Grail where they said visitors could borrow coconuts and run around. Heck yeah we did it! We purchased tickets and asked to borrow coconuts, which they let us borrow, and clacked out the hallway into the center courtyard.

Mark Bussler in Doune Castle

Castle Anthrax.

One of the greatest things about Doune Castle is that they let you explore on your own. No forced tours. No crappy signs with crappy cartoons. No bastardized commercialization. It was really great! It was as I'd imagined a castle would be (from movies of course). Solid stone construction, many rooms, spiral staircases and nooks and crannies. And it was way bigger than I thought it would be.

Monty Python and The Holy Grail being viewed on an iPod in Doune Castle

We brought our video iPod with us and reenacted scenes in all the locations from the movie. That's right, we watched the movie in the exact spot where they filmed the movie. We're dorks.

Famous wall from Doune Castle

"What are you doing in England?"
"Mind your business!"

After having a great time we took the bus back to Stirling and went to the William Wallace Monument. I like the movie Braveheart, but to be honest it pales in comparison to Highlander. I was very, very upset there was not a Connor MacLeod monument anywhere in Scotland.

William Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland

Look how big this thing is! The monument sits on top of a hill which is a hike to the top... but nothing too difficult. I found it amusing that they offer a bus to the monument that says "The easy way to the top". Very American I thought. What would Wallace think of these tourists who can't even put forth the effort to hike 10 minutes to his monument?

William Wallace Monument

A statue to honor the Quickening.

This monument is a huge tower and the view is commanding. There is a museum on the inside where they have the William Wallace sword.

View from the top of the William Wallace Monument

A view from the top. This was one of my favorite and most memorable days of our vacation. As I am a movie buff and enjoy history this just couldn't have gotten much better. Oh wait, yes it did....

Mmmm... beer.

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