10 Movies That Have Inspired My Travel

One of my favourite ways to relax is to spend two hours escaping in to the world of a movie. I want to be where the action takes place – see the river crossing, stand in the castle courtyard, breathe in the salty air of the beach. I watch until the end of the credits to find out where I can visit the settings for myself, and my travel list quickly builds up!

Once I’ve been there, I never watch the movie in the same way again. Now I know more about the scene – I remember the sound of the waterfall, how the sand gave way under my feet, the wrong turn I took on the drive to get there. More often than not, re-watching the movie makes me long to return to the destination.

Here are ten films that have either inspired my travels or had me racing to my computer to watch the movie just for the chance to see how it showcased the location I’d just visited.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

ENGLAND: Alnwick Castle, Sycamore Gap, Aysgarth Falls

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was one of my favourite movies growing up, and when Alnwick Castle and Sycamore Gap both came up as day trip options when I was visiting Edinburgh, I knew I had to book myself in. Time restrictions meant that I had to choose between one or the other, and the castlephile in me jumped at the chance to go to Alnwick Castle, which served a minor role in the film (they have a framed arrow from the movie hanging on the wall in the castle garden’s gift shop).

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle in Northumberland has been the filming location for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the Harry Potter movies

I was back in the UK a year later with the freedom of a hire car, determined to tick more Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves film locations off of my bucket list. My next location was the tree along Hadrian’s Wall where on his way home to Nottingham from fighting in the Crusades, Robin first meets Guy of Gisborne. Despite spending hours scouring the Internet working out how to get to Sycamore Gap, when we parked at Steel Rigg Car Park and slowly edged our way along Hadrian’s Wall, the howling wind and darkening skies almost made us turn back without seeing the tree. Luckily, as I peered over the wall down into the next valley, there was Sycamore Gap!

Sycamore Gap
The Sycamore Gap section of Hadrian’s wall – one of the more famous locations from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Travelling through the Lakes District from Penrith to York offered up two waterfalls from the movie. The inn that charges admission to see Hardraw Force was locked up when we visited. We had more success at Aysgarth Falls, where Robin and Little John’s fight was filmed, and spent an hour exploring the Upper, Lower and Middle Falls.

Aysgarth Falls
In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Aysgarth Falls is the backdrop to Robin Hood and Little John’s fight

Stardust (2007)

SCOTLAND: The Quiraing, Isle of Skye
ICELAND: Jökulsárlón

The Quiraing on the Isle of Skye
The Quiraing on the Isle of Skye

Stardust is one of my favourite films. Adapted from the novel by Neil Gaiman, it sees Tristan Thorne setting out on a quest to bring back a fallen star to prove his love to shallow Victoria, while evading murderous princes out to gain themselves a throne, and witches seeking eternal youth by capturing the star for themselves.

Jökulsárlón ice beach
The surreal ice sculptures washed up on the beach in Iceland

The countryside of Stormhold, the fantastical land in Stardust, looked so stunning that I assumed it was all CGI. I only discovered it was real when my Scottish tour guide mentioned the Quiraing might seem familiar as Stardust had been filmed there. And now, re-watching the film, I can see the deep emerald green of the Scottish Highlands and the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye, and the beauty of the ice washed up along the beach at Jökulsárlón.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

FRANCE: Notre-Dame de Paris

The chimera of Notre Dame
Disney’s adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame made me determined to visit the towers and their monsters for myself!

The Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame introduced me to the story of Quasimodo and his life up in the belltowers of Notre-Dame de Paris. While the cathedral itself is beautiful, with its rose windows and sculpture, climbing up to the towers into Quasimodo’s world to visit the gargoyles and chimera (and to see one of the best views of Paris) was what inspired me to make visiting Notre Dame a must. 

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

FRANCE: Palais Garnier

Inside the theatre of the Palais Garnier
The Phantom of the Opera is rumoured to have lurked in the Palais Garnier, and even has his own box!

The 2004 cinematic version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Phantom of the Opera made me determined to visit the Palais Garnier, the Parisian Opera House that the phantom was rumoured to haunt. Although a tour of the ornate Palais Garnier doesn’t take you to the underground lake where the Phantom made his home, it does play on the popularity of The Phantom of the Opera with a plaque naming Box 5 as belonging to the Phantom.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

SCOTLAND: Doune Castle

Doune Castle
Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed at Doune Castle
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is my favourite of all the Python films – and most of it was filmed at Doune Castle. Some friends had told me that Doune Castle in Scotland was the castle from the “French Taunters” scene, and I was so excited to be there that I skipped around in front of the castle pretending to clap coconut halves together, while imagining French guards taunting us from the top of the castle with a giant wooden rabbit lurking just out of sight in the woods. It was only after re-watching the DVD when I came home that I realised that most of the movie was filmed in and around Doune Castle!

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)


Some of the most spectacular scenery featured in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is in Iceland
In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walter spends his routine life only daydreaming about being adventurous, until one day his sense of loyalty takes him on a quest through Greenland, Iceland and the Himalayas. The movie shows off the stunning Icelandic scenery, and made me long to go back and spend more time in one of my favourite countries explore Iceland’s fjords, waterfalls and volcanoes!

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

The Moulin Rouge at night
The Moulin Rouge is most impressive at nighttime

 Baz Luhrmann’s movie about a disinherited writer who falls in love with a courtesan while writing a play to be staged in the Moulin Rouge was my introduction to one of the most well-known nightclubs in Montmartre. The Moulin Rouge, with the red windmill that gives it its name, looks its best all lit up at night.

The Sound of Music (1965)

Mirabell Gardens
The Mirabell Gardens, in the Old Town of Salzburg

The Austrian town of Salzburg serves as the backdrop to much of The Sound of Music. There’s even a Sound of Music tour that will take you to many of the filming locations. I preferred to walk around Salzburg’s Old Town, and to spend time relaxing in the Mirabell Gardens, with Do Re Mi playing in my head!

The Monuments Men (2014)

Michelangelo's Madonna and Child
Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child was one of the artworks rescued by The Monuments Men

In The Monuments Men, a group of museum curators and art historians are tasked with saving priceless art from being stolen and destroyed by the Nazis in World War II. In the film, one of the Monuments Men dedicates himself to defending Michaelangelo’s Madonna and Child. I’d never heard about the statue before, and wanting to learn more, I took the opportunity to see the master’s work at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Bruges.

 The movie brought home to me how important it is to preserve our artistic heritage. Standing in front of the Madonna and Child, I thought about how it and other masterpieces could have been lost forever if not for the men who risked their lives to ensure the safety of thousands of artworks during the second World War so that I could visit them today.

Ever After (1998)

Château de Fontainebleau
Château de Fontainebleau, one of King Francis I’s residences

Ever After, an updated take on the Cinderella story, is responsible for my love of French chateaux and interest in French Renaissance history during the reigns of Francis I and Henry II. Though I’ve yet to visit the Dordogne, where Château de Hautefort, Château de Beynac, and other locations from the movie, are located (they’re on my list!), I have visited the real castles lived in by the historical Francis and Henry, including Château de Chambord, Château de Fontainebleau and the Louvre.

Which films have inspired you to travel? Share them in the comments!


Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father's Day

Today is Fathers’ Day in Australia and New Zealand, the day where we take time to appreciate our relationship with our fathers and what they mean to us.

I caught the travel bug from my parents. While I was growing up, we spent our weekends going on drives, hiking through national parks and visiting historical landmarks. School holidays saw our family travelling around Australia, and my parents supported both my brother and I when we had the opportunity to live in Germany as part of our school’s student exchange program.

My parents showed me that it was possible to take long overseas trips and still have a day job. Together they’ve travelled to every continent, and spend their free time improving their photography skills.

Ever since he got online in 1997, Dad’s met and kept in touch with people from all over the world. He likes numbers and statistics and lodges my tax for me. He has an affinity for emus: when he talks to them, the emus respond (it’s a kind of a weird glounk sound). Dad loves trying new beers on his travels, quotes lines from The Castle and gets a little bit too distracted by Farm Town. He’s also an avid coin and stamp collector, which makes buying souvenirs for him really easy!

Dad has always supported me in everything I’ve done. He helped me with programming logic during my IT degree and over the years he’s saved the discarded drafts of my short stories and writing projects. He’s always a Skype call away if anything goes wrong while I’m travelling. He pretends to understand when I speak to him in German. He is always the first to read any of the posts on this blog and actively promotes Castlephile Travels and my writing whenever he can.

Without my Dad being the person he is, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

So thankyou for everything, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!


Right Place, Wrong Time: Three Sights I Didn’t See

Travelling can lead to some amazing experiences and sights that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. But sometimes the travel gods are against you, and while you might be in the right place, you are most definitely there at the wrong time.

Thankfully, none of these times have been life-threatening, but after years of planning and anticipation, you can’t help but be disappointed to turn up somewhere and not be able to see the thing you came for (though it does give you a reason for a return trip!).

The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

On my first overseas trip at 17, I had two things I wanted to see: the Brandenburg Gate and Neuschwanstein Castle. I managed neither – our group of exchange students voted against going to Neuschwanstein, and when it came to the Brandenburg Gate, well, it just wasn’t how I had pictured it …

The Brandenburg Gate, undergoing restoration works in 2001.
The Brandenburg Gate, undergoing restoration works in 2001.


Nine years later, I made it back to Berlin and was so excited to see the actual Brandenburg Gate!

The Brandenburg Gate
My favourite part of visiting Berlin – seeing the Brandenburg Gate!

The Bridge of Sighs, Venice

Advertising surrounding The Bridge of Sighs
Almost the perfect image of The Bridge of Sighs, complete with gondolier. If only there weren’t any ads…

Oh, advertising. You really are everywhere. Even covering up restoration work on the second most famous bridge in Venice. What should have been an idyllic scene was almost choked by Coca Cola ads.

The Northern Lights, Norway

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of all was having the Northern Lights dazzle in the sky above me while I was fast asleep! The next morning we woke up to the rest of our tour group gushing about the incredible experience they had and showing us the photos that they had taken. After that we stayed up night after night waiting to see the Northern Lights for ourselves, but the sky was too cloudy to be able to see the light show.

Now it’s your turn! Have you ever been in the right place at the wrong time?