I love the Sound of Music. I am borderline obsessed with the movie, the soundtrack, the real story, everything. When my grandparents and I took the Sound of Music (from now on referred to as SOM) in 2003, I had the time of my life.
When we decided to go on the tour again, I was over the moon. My heart was beating so fast whenever I thought about the exciting things we were going to see on the tour. After exploring the Hohensalzburg fortress and discovering the Christmas Market, we made our way over to the Mirabell Gardens. We were early for our 2PM tour so we chatted with a friendly American who has lived in Salzburg for 15 years and now works as tour guide. When I told him that we were going on the SOM tour he said that we had to take photos in the Garden before we left.
He pointed us towards the Pegasus Fountain, the Greek statues and covered hedge pathway. The Do Re Mi song was shot in these spots. I was very happy to re-enact the song in my head as we saw the garden. It was almost like a dream come true! I secretly want to be the eighth Von Trapp child in the award winning movie.
We made our way back to the pick up point after posing for a million photos and met Christina, our tour guide. She was a wonderful lady who has lived in Salzburg all her life. Our tour group consisted of four other girls from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Canada. We were piled into this cute little yellow van. Alice and I sat right up front with Christina who was also our driver!
We drove around the city centre and she pointed out key filming locations. She told us about the real Von Trapps as well as the Hollywood version. She had so many interesting tid bits and anecdotes about the movie, but being the extreme fan I was, I knew almost all of them because I had read the movie memento book a million times! We saw the theater where the Music Festival took place. It was in a gorgeous stone building. Right across it was the courtyard where Gretl dropped a tomato (I think it was a tomato) during their trip into town. The entire time Christina was pointing out locations to us, I could see Julie Andrews dancing and singing across it in my mind.
Our next stop was the house that they used for the boating and lemonade scene. We couldn’t go right to it, but saw it from across the lake. There was a thin layer of ice and Christina said that people skate on the lake when it gets solid enough. I’d rather skate on that lake than on the canal back home! The house now belongs to Harvard university.
We then drove off to other filming spots; the abbey (the ‘real’ Maria was a nun there. The movie was also shot there), the house that they used for the exterior scenes and the gazebo. The gazebo has a special little place in my heart because I love the sweet song that Liesel and Rolf sang in it. Sixteen Going on Seventeen was MY song, till I actually turned seventeen..
The glass gazebo was originally located by the Harvard house but when it was bought by the university, the gazebo was moved to Hellbrunn Palace Park. It was named The Sound of Music Pavilion and was a gift to the city after the filming ended. A cool fact is that the interior shots were actually filmed on a sound stage in Hollywood. That’s why the gazebo looks so small. It recreated so that it would be big enough for Liesel to jump and dance around in it. She actually sprained her ankle during the dance and broke a glass panel. So I suppose it was a good thing that it wasn’t the original gazebo! (Sorry, I enjoy little facts like this!)
Hellbrunn was such a high point for me! I sang along to the SOM soundtrack that Christina played in the van as we made our way to Mondsee. Mondsee is a little town about 70KM out of Salzburg. The wedding scene was filmed in the town cathedral. We drove through some breathtaking landscapes. It is called the lake and mountain district because of all the natural lakes and towering mountains that housed tiny towns and nestling homes. Around every corner there was a new nest of homes between some fir trees or a cabin at the edge of the lake. There were beautiful sights everywhere. But I was so tired, about 20 minutes into the drive I zoned out and stopped singing along with Maria and the Captain.
The cathedral is Mondsee was gorgeous. I could tell that they’ve done some work to on it since they filmed the SOM almost 50 years ago.
We then went to Braun’s cafe, a very popular destination for tourists because they serve the best strudel and vanilla ice cream. I remember stopping there years ago and sharing a slice of strudel with my grandma. Their pink interior was exactly the same too! We rested our weary feet and I warmed up with a cup of hot chocolate. I could not resist and ordered a plate of apple strudel and vanilla ice cream too. It was to die for! I almost ordered a second helping.
I bought myself another SOM book. It details the story of the Von Trapps, their journey to America and their love for singing. I am going to snuggle up with this gem on the plane ride home. Christina drove us back to our hotel after the tour and we packed for an early trip back to Wien. Waiting for the train the next morning is something I’d never forget. It was very quiet, the air was clean and crisp, and the snowy mountains stood in front of me just like they’ve been for the past million years. I love Salzburg, I will definitely be visiting again.