Last week, Disney flew me out to the United Kingdom as part of their promotion for the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD of Brave. During my time in London, I interviewed director Mark Andrews and producer Katherine Sarafian. Then my group flew to Scotland where I got the chance to interview story supervisor Brian Larsen. But the majority of my trip to Scotland was an incredible whirlwind experience visiting castles, taking archery and falconry lessons, eating haggis for the first time, and much more. And like any good tourist, I took plenty of photos.
Hit the jump to check out images of me goofing off in Scotland along with brief descriptions of where I went and what I did. Look for my interviews with Andrews, Sarafian, and Larsen later this week as well as video from my trip. Brave hits 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD tomorrow.
[Note: All photos taken with my iPhone 5]
Because of the number of photos and the way our gallery system works, it would be too time consuming to break the images up with descriptions. Instead, I’ll walk you through it here:
- I’ll just make a note up front that I’m not a good photographer. The landscape of Scotland makes anyone a good photographer. It’s a challenge to take a bad shot because the landscape is so gorgeous and fits so well with the buildings we stayed at. It’s a moody sky against old architecture as opposed to a moody sky against a McDonald’s.
- This is a five-star resort, and is a nice window into how people with lots of money spend their vacations. They have “retail therapy”, which are a bunch of expensive shops inside the resort that sell cashmere and 100,000 euro bottles of whiskey. Also, every room comes with its own gas fireplace, which is a nice touch considering the cold nights.
- The photos of the food are from when we arrived that night after flying in from London. It was a nice assortment of food, and there was also a friendly waiter with paper cones filled with fish and chips. Just because it’s a five-star resort, that doesn’t mean every meal has to be high cuisine.
- We began our first day in Scotland going to Stirling Castle. I’m a huge history nerd, so going around and learning about the castle’s history was a thrill. We learned that it was an important site since it was the location was perfectly situated between north and south Scotland. But the most fascinating fact was the yellow building in the middle. It looked fake, but it was actually a fairly accurate restoration of the Great Hall’s exterior. The royals were quite gaudy and the statues would have been multicolored and probably more on the side of an eye-sore rather than strong, grey castles we normally think of.
- This colorful style is represented in the castle’s interiors, as you can see from the walls and ceilings. Also, the unicorn was the symbol of the Stuart family, so if you’ve ever wondered how to make unicorns look tough, come to Stirling Castle.
- The wood carving on the door is supposedly a “witch’s spell”. I’m not so sure. It could be the product of a bored kid with a pocket knife. As for the steps, I took a photo of them because they related to a cool ghost story our guide Gary told us. I don’t believe in ghosts, but those stories can be a lot of fun. Side note: All of our tour guides, Gary for Stirling Castle, and Rob and Frank for Edinburgh Castle, were excellent. They were funny, smart, personable, and genuinely enthusiastic about their jobs.
- For the commenters who will inevitably live up to the “Haters Gonna Hate” mantle they’re so well known for, yes, I only have one smile. It’s the benefit of having a messed up lower jaw (hence the braces).
- From the videos, you’ll probably see how bad I am at this, but it was still a lot of fun. I took a photo of the elk because I loved its disapproving glare. Its face seemed to say, “Enjoy taking part in the activity that murdered me.”
- “Falconry” doesn’t involve just falcons, but as I learned, it also includes using eagles and hawks as controllable birds of prey. We learned how the animals are tamed (steak), how to make them fly and return, and the proper method for not getting your eyes clawed out. They’re actually very chill and almost sweet animals, and it was a lot of fun getting to play with hawks Victor and Lima.
- This was the most random part of the trip. Horses were brought out, but we didn’t really learn anything about them and we didn’t get to ride them.
- You’re definitely going to want to check out the video of this tomorrow. It’s based off a poem by Robert Burns, and I thought Roddy (the good gentleman you see pictured) was simply going to do a dry reading of it before we ate. I couldn’t have been more. It was an astounding performance. All meals should be preceded with such an energetic address. Your move, every restaurant.
- Haggis, when prepared properly, tastes much better than it sounds. Its description sound unappetizing: “a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours.” But it’s actually quite delicious and tastes like a mixture between ground beef and meatloaf. However, it strikes me as a dish best prepared by experience chefs otherwise the meal could go horribly wrong.
- After dinner, we were treated to a fascinating lecture by whiskey expert Charles Maclean. Maclean has been studying whisky for over 30 years, and he spoke about it eloquently and insightfully. We tasted three different whiskeys, and he explained the origins of each one right down to the kind of casks and how that influenced the taste.
- However, I am not much of a drinker and my palette for such liquor is practically non-existent. While I’m sure Mr. Maclean was dead-on when talking about the fruitiness of one whiskey compared to the oak-aroma of another, all three whiskeys stung my nostrils and tasted like electricity. However, I wouldn’t say the experience was wasted on me; I would say I was slightly wasted on the experience.
- The following day, we left Gleneagles Resort and drove two hours to Dalhousie Castle outside of Edinburgh. Once there, we took a bagpipe lesson from Roddy and learned that it’s a ridiculous difficult instrument to play. You can see me goofing off on the chanter, which is the melodic part of the instrument. When you see the video of me playing the bagpipe, I don’t look quite as merry.
- After bagpipe lessons, we went down the castle’s “dungeon” restaurant (it was actually used as the sleeping quarters back in the olden days) and had another terrific meal.
- Edinburgh is a gorgeous city. As our driver pointed out to me, it was never attacked during World War II since the Germans didn’t think it was a valuable target. Our bus drove up and down the streets, and if I could have asked for one more thing out of my amazing trip, it would have been an extra day just to walk the streets of Edinburgh.
- Again, my inner history nerd loved visiting this, and I loved the story behind St. Margaret’s Chapel. The Chapel was also one of the oldest parts of the castle. Much like Stirling, no castle has remained perfectly in tact, although also like Stirling, Edinburgh Castle had stood on the same location for over 1000 years. Walking through places like Stirling and Edinburgh, you can’t help but realize how young America is by comparison.
Come back later this week for video of me going to all these places as well as my on-camera interviews with Andrews, Sarafian, and Larsen.