The hills were definitely alive with the sound of music…that is Dani and I screaming the lyrics of various Sound of Music songs through out the picturesque city of Salzburg, Austria.
We of course took the earliest flight possible with Ryanair, of course (our flight cost 35 bucks, YOU CAN’T BEAT THAT!). We dropped our bags off at our hostel (Malminger hostel, it’s like a hotel but for the price of a hostel!), and set out for the tour I have been waiting years for: The Sound of Music tour. Yes, it’s possibly the most touristy thing we could have done. En serio, who would go all the way to Salzburg and not get a tour of all things Sound of Music related? It’s a great tour by Panorama tours. So good, you might see me on one of the buses in the future!
De verdad, it was a really informative tour that tells you not only the story of filming the movie in Salzburg and the surrounding area, but it also tells you the real story…which is different than the one that Rogers and Hammerstein created.
The real story: Yes, Maria does exist. However, all of the children’s names in the movies are different. In order from oldest to youngest: Rupert, Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna, Martina (first Von Trapp mom passed away from Scarlet fever after the birth of the youngest), Rosemarie, Eleonore, and Johannes. Another fun fact: Maria was raised socialist and atheist. It wasn’t until she was suppose to go to a Bach concert at a local Jesuit church, that she caught the sermon of a priest. His words changed her outlook on religion, and that was when she made the decision to join the convent. However, her health started failing and her doctor was concerned with her lack of time in the outdoors. That was when she was sent to Captain Von Trapps family…to care for his oldest daughter (also named Maria…how confusing would that have been if there were TWO Maria’s in the film?) who was sick rheumatic fever. Not to be the governess for the children. The rest of the story is true, Maria never returned to the convent and married the Captain. The two more children were born. Of course, the family did not hike the Swiss Alps to escape (if they had, they would have put themselves right into Nazi occupied territory), they simply used the fact that their family was touring in Italy as an excuse and hopped on to a plane to America. It was the last Von Trapp child, Johannes, that allowed the family to stay in America because he was born there!
Now I know I have traveled all over Europe and I have seen some pretty awesome and breath-taking places, but Salzburg tops the cake for me. Seriously, it was beautiful, and it started with the tour.
The first stop was the Leopoldskron Palace where the Captain’s backyard is located as well as where the famous boat scene took place. Fun fact: The Von Trapp house is actually TWO DIFFERENT locations in Salzburg.
Let’s take a closer look…
I bet you all are wondering: Where is the Gazebo that Liesel gets her first kiss in?? Well, another fun fact: The production team gave the gazebo to the family that lives in the palace as a gift for letting them film there. However, too many tourists were trespassing on to the grounds, trying to get their pic with it that they had to move it THREE SEPARATE times. Now it is located in the Hellburnn Palace (which includes a park and a zoo!).
Now, I should explain that Dani and I were the youngest people on this tour, and by far the most excited about it. We impressed the tour guide with our wealth of knowledge about the film, and we were the most excited to see the gazebo. After this stop we drove by the Nonnberg Abbey, the real convent that Maria was a novice as well as the cathedral where Maria and the Captain were married.
This were Dani and I were both blown away at this tour. We left Salzburg for a tour of the Lake District area where you get to see the country-side where the picnic scenes of the film were shot. The hills were literally alive, take a look HERE. We took one quick stop at Lake Wolfgang and then headed to the Church where the Von Trapp wedding was filmed in. Afterwards we had time to explore the town and enjoy some real Apfelstrude, or apple strudel.
Our guide, Natasha, was amazing because she went the extra mile to tell us of other places around Salzburg that were in the film. So the next day we set off to the Mirabell Gardens to sing “Do-Re-Mi” at the top of our lungs…which I certainly did to capture THIS memory. We had a blast running around through the gardens…we even had a small picnic there on our last day! In these gardens you can find the steps, water fountains, Greek statues, and covered pathway in the “Do-Re-Mi” song.
One of the great aspects of Salzburg is that its small enough that you can bike around it. So, that is exactly what we did one afternoon. AND IT WAS THE BEST DECISION EVER. Literally one of my top memories of the whole year. We rode along a path that took us back to the Hellburn Palace so we could get a really good look at the second Von Trapp house, and along the way we got to see some pretty impressive views.
For the epic final of our time in Salzburg: THE VON TRAPP HOUSE
The greatest part of the bike ride was riding along the pathway that is used during the song “Confidence.” This house is now used for the Mozart foundation and is a place where students can take lessons and practice. Oh yea, Mozart was born here…but it wasn’t Austria when he was born Salzburg was a German Territory then.
Next we headed to Vienna to meet up with my roommate, Clarisse, and her two cousins. We lucked out and were able to travel to Vienna by train for about 30 euros(40 bucks) including seat reservation with the Westbahn train company.
Since we only had two days there we tried to make the most of it. First we visited the Schonbrunn Palace and its grounds. Don’t worry, we got into trouble for being too “American,” whatever that means (click here for a great clip of what it means).
This 1,441 room palace is the former home to the Habsburg monarchy. On top of that square footage there are multiple gardens and even a zoo! My favorite part had to be the old “breakfast nook,” named Gloriette, of Queen Maria Theresa. Fun Fact: Maria Theresa was literally carried up to her breakfast nook every morning because she weighed 260 pounds and couldn’t walk up the hill. She was also carried throughout the palace. Also, the Great Hall is the exact place Kenndy met Kurschev to discuss the Cold War. To explore the palace we took another great tour led by one of the funniest guides I had ever had. A memorable quote: [King] Franz Josef was as musical as a door post.”
We also learned many historical facts. Such as, that Maria Theresa was allowed to inherit the lands of the Habsburgs when her father died, but she couldn’t rule as Queen unless she married. She did marry Francis I, who was technically ruler, but really it was Maria (seriously, Francis did NOTHING). She also was a baby machine and gave birth to 16 children, one of which grew to be the famous Marie Antoinette. Here is one of many family portraits of the royal family.
Now you have to look at it closely, but there are many different symbols in this painting. First look at Francis, notice how his right hand fingers are pointing towards Maria Theresa? Then look at Maria Theresa and she looks like she is pointing at herself as to say, “Damn straight, I’m in charge.” Well, that is because she was seriously in charge, everyone knew it, and they were cool with it. Another clue of this would be the two dogs on the ground. Notice how one is bowing to the other, one is suppose to represent the king, AKA the one bowing, and the other is Maria Theresa. This theme also is shown by the placement of the children, the heirs, AKA the sons, are placed by Maria.
Later we ventured into the center of Vienna where we stopped in St. Stephen’s cathedral. It has been built on top of two other churches and was the first parish church in 1147. I’m not lying when I say that I have seen many churches in my day. So really there wasn’t anything that much different with this one. Except the roof is pretty neat…it’s got a mosaic design on it. Fun Fact: The composer Beethoven discovered the totality of his deafness when he saw birds flying out of the bell tower as a result of the bells’ tolling but could not hear the bells.
Truthfully, I was dealing with a Salzburg hangover, so Vienna didn’t really impress me as it should have. If anything, I do need to go back and spend more time there (and probably Salzburg again…).