I was barely in the van before she asked the first question…
“What is that?”
“It’s a cement mixer” the guide answered.
“Why is it in the street?”
“Because they are doing construction.”
“Is it permanent?”
Oh boy. I thought. It was going to be a very, very long ride to Salzburg.
The lady who loved to ask questions, though Indian, told me she lived in Hong Kong. Wherever she was from, clearly, she was familiar with The Sound of Music. Except for the first one, every question she asked pertained to the movie…is that the lake from The Sound of Music? Is that the church from The Sound of Music? Are we going to see all the sights from the Sound of Music?
I began to wonder if the driver was going to take us to Budapest and jump off the chain bridge.
But he seemed unphased (probably having heard that question a million times before), and he patiently explained, that no, we were a long way from Salzburg. And no, we would not see ALL the sites from the Sound of Music because when they made the movie, they actually spliced footage from all over; not just Salzburg or any one place.
We promptly stopped at a roadside restaurant and shop where the driver must be getting some kind of kick back…none of us felt much like eating given that we had just had a hotel breakfast and the items in the shop were beautiful but expensive. We were anxious to see the hills that were alive with the sound of music.
After days of looking forward this this trip, I was beginning to wish I had just taken the train to Salzburg by myself (although the driver assured us that this would not have included the lake district…which has scenery from the Sound of Music). The lake (Modsee) was beautiful although incredibly busy on a Sunday with folks riding bikes, swimming, or sunbathing. There was really no time to do anything but take a few pictures, but I guess now I can say I’ve seen the lake from the Sound of Music. If anyone cares.
The lakeside castle where some of the scenes were shot was never actually a home of the VonTrapps (their real home was confiscated by the Nazis during WWII but has recently had been turned into a hotel).
When we pulled into Saltzburg, I felt a bit more disappointed. It was just a city.
Josef, our driver pulled into a parking lot beside an ornate church (and confirmed that, no, it was not the church in the Sound of Music).
He explained that we were in the new city and after showing us a few sites from the Sound of Music, he would take us into the old city.
My new Sound of Music loving friend (“SOM”) was not in good shape, so walking was slow. We did eventually reach the Mirabelle Garden and the place where a few shots were taken as Maria and the kids are singing. I am going to have to go back and watch the movie…I really don’t remember unicorns.
Josef showed us where famous local chocolate was made and other important things like good places to buy ice cream.
He showed us another fountain featured in the Do-Re-Mi scene of SOM. I cringed waiting for SOM herself to say, “that’s not what it looked like in the Sound of Music,”
But instead, she simply said, “where can we buy souvenirs?”
I guess there is nothing more inspiring than shipping containers and construction debris.
But first, he took us to the graveyard by the Abbey where the VonTrapps hide from the Germans in the movie. It is a lovely little graveyard. In reality, the VonTrapps did not hide in a graveyard, they left the country on a train before the war started.
And truthfully, I’m not sure what was actually filmed because even though there are many caged areas such as are depicted in the movie, I didn’t see any tomb stones that aren’t flush against the wall.
But maybe the fictional heros in that Abbey have done more than make for an exciting story because the abbey is still functioning to this day.
After the graveyard, I went back a few centuries and hiked the hill to the castle. I will say this, if I worked there, I would not need a gym membership. That was no joke.
But it was worth the hike. The Castle was originally built somewhere in the 1400s and occupied by the Archbishops of Hamburg. The site of city was originally chose because of its defensive position on the Danube and near the mountains, but salt mines were discovered which made for the city’s main industry. (And consequently, the name, Saltzburg).
The Archbishops were the spiritual and civil rulers and apparently, had frequent need to exercise disciple to maintain their control. The tour including the torture chambers and a rather terrifying hole that led to the dungeon.
Overall, it was a pretty cool castle and afforded beautiful views of the city below.
Even though I took a train down the mountain, I definitely felt the walk/hike that morning had earned me an ice cream lunch. I tried some new flavors including black current and elderflower. Let’s just say, it’s a good thing I also got an old faithful, chocolate.
I took a quick photo in the gorgeous church where the Captain and Maria got married. There was a couple doing the tango on the steps. I don’t know why. They didn’t tango in the Sound of Music.
Having covered medieval history, WWI, the SOM, and the tango, I felt like it was time to visit one of Mozart’s houses. Our guide had told us which one had the best museum, the one where he was born and lived as a child.
The house and museum were pretty well done and told the story of this child prodigy who left a quite significant mark on the music world considering he only lived to be 35.
Mozart was reasonably successful during his life, but he lived an popular tour life and his death left his young wife and kids with quite a bit of debt. Constanze proved to be a prudent business woman and managed to turn things around and preserve his legacy remarkably well including publishing his first biography. After about 10 years, she did remarry and eventually returned to Salzburg which she and Wolfgang had left a few years after their marriage.