And also relive your ‘Sound of Music’ memories…
Your inspiration for visiting Salzburg may not be ‘Sound of Music’ (one of the world’s best-loved movies shot in and around here). But you can’t resist total recall, because all over this picturesque Austrian town, there are posters of ‘Sound of Music’ excursions that will appeal to the ‘classic movie’ lover in you. All this hype is more than justified…after all, the blockbuster grossed more money than any musical in history and even bagged five Oscars! Not only is it a fun opportunity to relive scenes and locations of the song-and-dance sequences starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and seven chirpy children…but a fabulous way to soak in the stunning Austrian countryside. So, are you in?
Our choice was the Original Sound of Music® by Panorama Tours. The meeting point for most such tours is the formal Mirabell Gardens, where Maria and the children were filmed dancing around the winged horse statue of Pegasus, the stone gnome and the fountains singing ‘Do-Re-Mi.’ Loosen up and you’ll find yourself humming along. I was reminded of my music classes in school, when we would stand in a circle around our music teacher’s piano, the chorus of our Do-Re-Mi perfectly synchronising with her fingers as they flew over the black and white keys. The head girl’s voice always used to be the loudest! From the stone steps, take in the best views of the extended gardens, and of Salzburg. The centre of the gardens is dominated by four large groups of statues representing the elements water, fire, air, and earth. Indulge in a treasure hunt for the 12 ‘Danubian’ dwarves sculpted in marble. So what if you’re not 12…why should kids have all the fun?
The first halt for the coach is the southern end of the city…Schloss Hellbrunn, a veritable paradise of magnificent gardens, tree-lined avenues and silent ponds. Explore the extensive grounds and gardens overflowing with sculptures, statues and waterbodies…wells, fountains, ponds, five artificial grottos. This is a Baroque Disneyland created to entertain the immensely rich Prince Archbishop of Salzburg and his guests…but who’s prohibiting you royalty-pretence for a day When you reach that famous little gazebo in the manicured park, don’t resist singing ‘I am sixteen going on seventeen’. Go on, fake a ‘proposal’ and or have a field day with your camera. No, it’s not cheesy, and who cares if someone else thinks it is? It’s an opportunity to rewind to simple romances from simple times.
The next stop is the lake where the famous boating scene had taken place. The historical 18th-century Leopoldskron Palace is visible at the far end…its white facade reflecting in the placid waters, the thick green trees all around, shaping the lakes contours like a curtain. Stand there and look on…as if you’re waiting for the giggling of the children and the rippling of the boat oars. Unbelievable, how one movie has had such an impact on millions of fans who are drawn to Salzburg every year to revisit its unforgettable scenes!
Going on to the ancient Nonnberg Convent with its landmark red onion dome, recall scenes from the movie when the children come to ask Maria to return, and when they try escaping towards the end. Behind that heavy chapel door of this 1,300-year-old nunnery from the Middle Ages, Benedictines still have a peaceful sanctuary! Movie or no movie, don’t forget to marvel at the architecture itself.
When the coach pulls away from the city limits, within minutes you are engulfed in the most luscious landscape of the Salzkammergut…soft rolling green hilly pastures, wide clumps of thick forest, distinctive peaks and the ever-present white blanket of the Dachstein glacier. 76 lakes…some small and silent, some large and lively, mostly secluded and mysterious…are located in the region. Small villages are nestled neatly in the tucks of the hills and on the shores of the lakes…each unique, each with its own unusual character…people live in this paradise, this is everyday life for them!
Sunny alpine meadows, fabulous scenery, rolling lush green Austrian countryside…the hills are still alive with the sound of music and you can feel it ringing in your ears! Seventh heaven…this is how it must be, you conclude as you drive through endless smooth green carpeted land trying to absorb every inch through your eyes, hoping to replay them in your mind again and again. But for now, all you want, is to keep gazing. Until you reach St. Gilgen, the stunning vistas featured in the opening sequence of the movie. An irresistible urge to jump out for a meditative walk along the shore of the Lake Wolfgang? Give in.
Finally, you head for the lakeside resort town of Mondsee, where, in the movie, Maria and Georg von Trapp were married at the baroque twin-turreted Michaelerkirche. ‘Sound of Music’ fans from around the world still come here to say “I do”. Admire the church. Think about happy endings. Stroll around the little cafes and shops in the serene town and ambled along the long, tree-shaded road leading to the lake in the distance. Sound of music. Sound of silence. Can’t you just buy a house and live here forever?