I had an aftertoon train reservation to Amsterdam but how could a visit to Salzburg be complete without doing the world famous ‘Sound of Music’ tour? Knowing the European penchant for punctuality, I had booked myself on a 9.15 am departure for the same which was to finish by about 1 pm, still leaving me time for a quick bite before making my appointment with the train.
If you’ve been a teenager in the 70s & 80s like me then surely you can associate yourself with the passion that I felt for this particular tour built entirely around the movie. So let me begin by first giving you a little brief about the movie itself.
The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise, and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, with Richard Haydn and Eleanor Parker. The film is an adaptation of the 1959 stage musical of the same name, composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Based on the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp, the film is about a young Austrian postulant in Salzburg, Austria, in 1938 who is sent to the villa of a retired naval officer and widower to be governess to his seven children. After bringing love and music into the lives of the family, she marries the officer and together with the children find a way to survive the loss of their homeland to the Nazis.
The Sound of Music received five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film also received two Golden Globe Awards, for Best Motion Picture and Best Actress, the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical.
My tour was booked with Salzburg Panorama Tours directly on their website. Here’s what they have to say about the tour themselves.
“In 1964 Salzburg and its surroundings was turned into a “Sound of Music” film location and it was Salzburg Panorama Tours taking Hollywood Stars like Robert Wise, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer as well as the entire crew to the original film locations in and around Salzburg.
The most important sites are Mirabell Palace and its wonderful Garden, Nonnberg Abbey, the Rock Riding School and the Salzburg Festival district, the Residence, Castle Frohnburg and also the Castle Hellbrunn, the Castle Leopoldskron, the Lake District, the Trapp Villa and many more.
Right after release, the film became a tremendous success – awarded with five Academy Awards, still one of the most successful movies ever reaching cult status over the years – we want to tell you the real story of the Trapp Family making your trip to Salzburg unforgettable.”
Thus primed & excited, I grabbed a quick breakfast & was at the departure point ahead of schedule. The tour began & our guide (I’m bad at remembering names so let’s just call him Michael!!) soon put everybody into the mood of the movie as he began recounting the history, behind the scene activities, cinematic liberties & other trivia from the movie shoot.
Winding our way out of the town, we made our first pit stop at the Leopoldskron Palace where the famous boating scene was filmed.
Our next call was at the Hellbrunn Palace where the original gazebo used in the song “16 going on 17” as well as in the kissing scene of Maria and Baron von Trapp has been rebuilt after shifting it from its actual location used in the movie.
It was time for some fun 🙂
Now heading out to the Lake District, we passed by the Nonnberg Abbey which is still an active women’s convent. In this convent the “real” Maria was a novice and also got married to Baron von Trapp.
We passed by quaint, picture-postcard perfect small Austrian villages enroute.
I was a little surprised to come across the Red Bull HQ on the way. They run separate tours for this particular establishment which can be booked online.
Meanwhile Michael kept us all singing at full throttle to the tracks from Sound of Music.
We finally reached the Lake district & alighted from the bus. The photo stop gave a panoramic view of St. Gilgen & Lake Wolfgang.
After a few pictures & breathing in the fresh mountain air, we boarded the bus again. The next 15 mins took us to another small town Mondsee, location of the famous church, where the wedding of Maria and Baron von Trapp was filmed. Michael left us all in the bus park, explained the directions & asked everyone to be back within an hour.
I wandered around the small but cute market of Mondsee, picked up a customary souvenir book (on what else but the making of the ‘Sound of Music’ movie :)), wandered down to the lake to catch a view & made it to the bus stand in time for the assembly.
Michael didn’t fail to keep everybody’s spirits up on the return journey too & the distance & time passed by quickly.
So that brought my Salzburg visit to a close. A lot was achieved in just about 30 hours. Not bad!
A quick lunch at my favourite street cafe later I walked back to the hostel, picked up my bags & was off to the train station (walking distance, of course :)). Google managed to confuse me again with all those German names but I was rescued by some passers-by & guided in the correct direction. Soon I was safely positioned at the designated platform eagerly awaiting my next adventure, Munich.