How the Sound of Music Tour is in Tune with Salzburg’s Charm
Salzburg. The name screams jewel of Europe; boasts historian appeal; attracts nostalgic nerds. It is a city Austrians are proud of and one that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Approx. three hours from the nation’s capital, Salzburg combines its small town charm with the majesty of its scenic surrounding mountains.
This beautiful Austrian city is the epitome of quaint and quirky wrapped together with the cultural ribbon of historic landmarks and delicious cuisine. Upon arrival, you cannot help but salivate in excitement while searching for the closest bakery to nab a strudel. To me, this city combines the pop culture buzz with some of Europe’s untold stories waiting to be discovered. And my nostalgic heart is exactly what brought me here…
As most know, the famous musical “The Sound of Music” was filmed here and just like any attraction, Salzburg capitalized on this notoriety by providing daily tours showing visitors some of the most iconic landmarks used in the Oscar-winning film. Seeing where the famous songs were sung, dances were choreographed, and where the handsome Captain Von Trapp lived, brings thousands of devoted fans every year. In fact, the majority of Salzburg’s tourism support comes from “Sound of Music” groupies itching to grab a photo in front of Liesl’s gazebo…
And I am not ashamed to admit that i’m a proud groupie.
Arriving in Salzburg, I decided to go for a small walk prior to my booked tour. Heading to the stop, I passed the beautiful Mozart Square, featuring a statue of the composer himself. Although he was beautiful to see, this statue didn’t have anything on the one in Vienna . It is however, nice to see the incredible recognition by the Austrian people of such a notable composer. As you pass through the square, stop at the many food stands for a taste of Austrian classics as bratwurst, strudels, and more. Stop the salivating and enjoy a moment savouring the strudel; or perhaps a giant pretzel dipped in cheese. Your options are plentiful as you sight-see through the square.
The ride was pure entertainment. The movie soundtrack played as we ventured to each of the movie locations. The landmarks were strategically chosen to give guests a true chronological connection with the movie. Our guide pointed out additional points of interest along the way between photo stops.
Some of the landmarks noted included Nonnberg Abbey where Maria was an apprentice nun. As well as the Abbey, while passing through the alps, gaze out and spot the market featured in the Do Re Mi sequence where Gretal drops the tomato, and the theatre where the cast frequently rehearsed.
The first photo stop on tour was the beautiful colonial mansion whose backyard lake was used in the film. This lake was featured in the famous boat scene where Maria and the kids fell overboard before meeting the Baroness Schreider for the first time. This picturesque lake set the perfect tone of wealth and tranquility, shaping Captain Von Trapp’s character and personality. When there, I was taken back to that scene in the film. Not only did I remember this scene, but also the one when Maria roamed alone before the Captain admitted his love.
Then Came the Gazebo…
One of my favourite songs of the movie is “I am Sixteen going on Seventeen” sung by Liesl and Rolph. A classic example of puppy love, the two sweethearts dance and sing together right before a rainstorm. Charmian Carr who played Leisl was such a joy to watch on the screen as she jumped from bench to bench that it made me so sad that she die prematurely of a rare form of Dementia in 2016.
Traveller’s Fact: This gazebo is one the most photographed locations from the movie! The dance sequence charmed millions attracting record numbers of closet dancers attempting the same choreography. Sadly due to the number of dancer wannabes attempting the jumps between benches and dislocating hips, the gazebo had to be closed to the public. (Shakes fist in frustration of these imbeciles…)
Next, the tour takes you for a picturesque drive through the lake district where Julie Andrews’ “Sound of Music” opening scene was filmed. It was humourous to see exactly where they filmed this opening sequence as the distance between this hill and Nonnberg Abbey is quite far, making it literally impossible for her to run for vespers at the end of the number….
After capturing this beautiful hill on camera, the tour heads to the famous Church where Maria and the Captain wed! Never filmed before the movie, the church was a pristine beauty now with a famous history in Hollywood. The interior was beautiful and ornate, inviting all Sound of Music fans to enter and take photographs. As this is a place of worship, be mindful walking in and respect the dress code of knee-length skirts and sleeved tops.
Once you’ve taken your photos of the church, the tour takes a break to enjoy the small village and surrounding area. Enjoy browsing in the shops, purchasing a Sound of Music souvenir of choice if you so desire, and indulging in a delicious slice of Austrian strudel. One keepsake to consider available in the many shops is the beautiful Edelweiss necklace. They come in various shapes and sizes, as well as metals. I bought myself a gold necklace and pendant to which I enjoy wearing every now and then.
Traveller’s Fact: the bakery across from the church was the children’s favourite hangout! Between scenes they would eat strudel upon strudel, resulting in the actress who played Gretal gaining weight requiring a stunt double for the piggy-backs scene in the end credits…sigh.
Once back in the bus, the tour returns to the city centre in the heart of Salzburg. The commentary ends and an official “Sound of Music” documentary narrated by Charmian Carr is played during the short hour commute back. It is such a wonderful way to cap off the tour. When you arrive in Salzburg, guests disembark in front of the Pegasus fountain where Julie Andrews points to the sky hitting her high note at the end of singing Do Re Mi.
If you are a Sound of Music fan, join the 300,000 fans who visit yearly and take this tour. It was one of the most entertaining and fun afternoons I’ve experienced in Europe. It is a perfect combination of nostalgic charm and Austrian history.
“Song Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye.”