The Hills of Salzburg Come Alive with the Sound of Music

From just outside Salzburg on the Sound of Music tour. The hills were alive.

Our Saturday started by waking up in Munich and heading to the train station, just a few blocks from our hotel. There are trains about every thirty minutes to Salzburg, Austria, where we were headed today. And the ride typically takes about 100 minutes. Our big plans included the original Sound of Music tour of the City of Salzburg, where the best musical in the history of motion pictures was filmed.

The night before in Munich it rained hard and stormed quite a bit (we got a little wet on our way back to the hotel from dinner). And apparently this storm covered a much larger area, as all the trains to Salzburg were postponed due to trees being on the track. We only discovered this after we bought our train tickets. And there were hundreds of other affected passengers, many of whom were lined up to find another route or get a refund.

The church in Mondsee where the famous wedding scene from The Sound of Music took place.

We investigated taking a bus, but they were all booked. It did not look good for us and after checking our watches, I thought there was probably no way we were going to make our (prepaid) tour in Salzburg, which was slated for 2pm-6pm. My hope at this point was that we would even make it to Salzburg today. Well, our luck started to change slowly. First, when I asked a woman with the train company about how else we could get to Salzburg, she advised us to take the 10:55am train (note: we originally planned to take the 9:55am train) to Ubersee, which was about half way there. She said at that point, the train company would provide a “replacement bus” to get us to Salzburg. It wouldn’t be as fast, but it would get us there. So, we hopped on board the train.

While we took this option, I was a bit bummed that we may not make the tour we were signed up for in Salzburg. After all, we had recently re-watched The Sound of Music in preparation for this trip to Salzburg. I then turned to my friend Marshall and said, “you know what, we have to think positive.”

Marshall skipping on the steps where the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music once sang in the Mirabell gardens.

I recounted the lines from Julie Andrew’s song, “These are some of my favorite things.” Those lyrics include these lines: “When the dog bites, when the bee stings; When I’m feeling sad; I simply remember my favorite things; And then I don’t feel so bad.” Julie Andrews sings further about some of her favorite things such as “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” as well as “schnitzel with noodles” … and I said to Marshall, remember that schnitzel I had yesterday in Fussen? I’m going to just think about that as one of my favorite things and be grateful we are even here. And, perhaps, just perhaps, this luck we drew at the beginning of the day would turn around.

As we approached the station in Ubersee, the train conductor made an announcement: The tracks had been cleared and there would be no need for us to get off at Ubersee. This train was headed to Salzburg! Half of the train cheered. Many were also in a similar situation to us. I looked at our watches and realized we would arrive into Salzburg no later than 1:00pm. In fact, we arrived around 12:50pm and had enough time to take a cab to our hotel, check in, and take it back to the center of the city where we arrived to the site of the tour with 30 minutes to spare! There was even a food kiosk right next to the tour check-in and and were able to get some weiners (which were much like hot dogs) with sauerkraut and mustard, and coca-cola of course. It was perfect comfort food for lunch. The day just seemed to be getting better.

The famous steps in the Mirabell gardens where Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp children finished the song “Do Re Mi” by jumping / dancing up and down on the steps in sequence.

The Sound of Music tour was simply awesome. We saw all the main sights in Salzburg, and the surrounding area. We visited the church in the wedding scene, which is a beautiful church in the nearby town of Mondsee. Then back in Salzburg, we went through some of the town squares and saw the Mirabelle gardens, where Julie Andrews and the children danced around singing “Do Re Mi.” We went to the lake where many scenes were filmed, including where “Maria” and the children tipped over into the water on their canoe. We walked by the abbey where young Maria left to be a governess of the Von Trapp family children. And, we even visited the famous gazebo where Lisa and the boy she admired sang “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and where Maria and Captain Von Tropp first kissed. While we were at the gazebo, there was actually a live wedding going on. I bet there’s a lot of them there. We even walked down the path that Maria skipped down as she headed from the abbey to the Von Trapp home for the first time, singing “I have confidence.” And we crossed over the Mozart bridge – the very bridge that Maria and the children ran on in the scenes where they were in their play clothes running and singing through Salzburg.

The birthplace of Mozart!

As the bus strolled through the mountain side up to the town of Mondsee, the tour guide led us in some of the many songs, including “The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music.” It was fitting and to some degree, magical. Our tour guide, Anna, from Portugal, was quite the singer herself. She showed us many clips from the film to refresh our memory and also gave us some behind-the-scenes knowledge. Most of the exterior shots were filmed in the very places we were in Salzburg, while most of the interior shots were filmed on Hollywood sets in California. But it’s remarkable just how much was filmed in Salzburg. She said the weather there is always unpredictable. Apparently they do get a lot of rain like we saw today. When they filmed the movie back in the 1960s, the cast intended to be there six weeks, but inclement weather extended their stay for a total of 11 weeks.

After the tour, Marshall and I roamed the center of the city of Salzburg. We passed by the birthplace of Mozart. This discovery made me feel like the hills here really are alive with the glorious sound of music. In a few days, we are actually going to attend a Mozart concert experience at a grand hall in Vienna, just two hours away from Mozart’s birthplace and in a city he spent a lot of time performing in.

We love dinner in the beer halls! This one was a real treat – Augustiner Brau in Salzberg is in a former monastery, built in 1564.

We finished our day at the Augustiner Brau (beer hall) which has been rated the number one bier garten in the world by the History Channel. It is located in a former monastery that was built in this city in 1564. We had some really delicious food there – I had some ribs, pork, cabbage, and potatoes. And, of course, a very tall one liter of beer to wash it all down. We then walked back to our hotel, which is out in some of the neighborhoods away from the city center and called it a night.

I am very grateful we were able to get to Salzburg from Munich today and experience the beauty of this city and hear the hills come alive with The Sound of Music. It reminded me that when things might be getting you down, you just have to remember some of your favorite things. And no matter how things turn out, either way, you won’t feel so bad. But things turned out great. It’s the power of positive thinking and the good vibes that led us through and around the very beautiful city of Salzburg.

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1 Comment

  1. You are such a good writer! Makes us feel like we Are there. So glad everything worked out for you! And yes, the power of positive thinking sometimes works miracles!

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