Well Cheryl’s day(s) finally arrived. We were in Saltzburg and over the next two days we were going to cover the entire area in search of the Sound of Music locations shown in the movie. Day 1 was going to be a walking tour. I had purchased a book, which listed all of the sites. So my mission “should I choose to accept it” (and if you don’t get that line chances are you were born after 1970 … so kids you go Google Mission Impossible the TV series) was to hunt down all the sites while Cheryl recreated the scenes. Yes … this was going to be Cheryl’s favorite part of the trip … and mine … uh what do you think?
When we arrived the night before (Wednesday night), we had done a little walk around of old town Salzburg, which was about 5 mintues from our hotel across the little foot bridge that ran the width of the river. I was actually surprised by how by how large the old town was. Lots of narrow alleys filled with touristy shops and tons of restaurants and cafes. After doing a little shopping, we wandered back across the bridge and found a really cool little restaurnt where we had pizza, salad and fabulous beer called Trumer Pils. Best beer I had in Austria. (Found out later it won the World Beer Cup in 2006 and 2008. (WORLD CUP OF BEER??? Uh where is this held and why the heck have I never heard of it? And this also begs the question … can anyone attend or is it some exclusive club?)
Anyway, after dinner we called it a night and were up and at it for our first stop on the Sound of Music Tour – Mirabelle Gardens. Fortunately, our hotel fronted the gardens so the first couple sites were going to be easy. (Also, we were getting an early start so we could avoid the crowds in the gardens.) We walked out of our hotel, around the corner and past the Greek statutes where Maria and the kids did the outstretched arm thing for our first stop at the “Fountain” where the kids crisscrossed in front of each other with while singing Do Re Mi.
After the requisite pictures, we started to walk away when Cheryl decided to give some Indian kid a lesson about the Sound of Music as he was posing for a picture. She told him he needed to stretch his arms out like the Sound of Music when posing for a picture. The kid had no clue about the Sound of Music so she immediately when into fangirl mode and started explaining all about it. Minutes later she had the guy posing while she took pictures for him. He even went so far as to ask for a reshoot because he wanted to get it right. Even after the indoctrination from Cheryl he still seemed confused (and who could blame him) so I told him to “Google” Sound of Music.
Next stop was the Pegasus Fountain, yet another fountain the kids ran around. Then it was on to the stairs behind the gardens where the kids did some hopping up and down the steps in Do Rae Mi. Of course Cheryl had to recreate that scene.
Last stop at Mirabelle Gardens was a walk around the Gnome garden where the kids strutted past the large Gnome figurines and patted one on the head. According to the book I had the kids patted the Gnome with the glasses so of course … we walked around the garden and patted the Gnome. And with that site one was done.
Next on the agenda was to cross the bridge and head to Old Town Salzburg where we would spend the remainder of the day in search of the “scenes”. After wandering up and down a couple alleys we found the next site, which was University Platz. This wide open court yard is converted into a farmer’s market every day and it is the location for the tomato juggling scene. (We did not juggle tomatoes and instead wandered around and took in all the vendors stalls and the fabulous array of meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and pasteries.
On the backside of the University Platz, Cheryl and I fought the crowds to get a glimpse of Mozart’s home. A beautiful multi-story townhouse that was home to the famous composer. (Yea it’s not a Sound of Music site, but we had to see the house….)
We then moved on to the Festival Halls, which is the location for the world famous Saltzburg Music Festival held for 6 weeks every year. We walked the length of the exterior and found out we could actually go inside for a tour later in the day so we decided to come back to this site.
The next three sites were at the far end of the old town area. The first site was the horse trough also seen in the Do Re Mi. We then walked another block or so to locate the elevator to take us to the Monchsberg observation terrace where the kids walked along the ridge high above Salzburg. We also hiked along a path and found the meadow (not THE meadow), but the meadow where Julie Andrews is sitting on the ground surrouded by the kids and begins to teach them to sing.
We then took the elevator back down to street level and decided to walk back to our hotel and change. It was really, really hot and it was time to put on some shorts.
After the quick change, we walked back to the Festival Halls and Toscani Hof, which is the courtyard where Her Zeller got out of the car, went through two huge iron doors and confronted Max and the children demanding to know where the Captain was. The iron doors were magnificent and literally dwarf anyone who stands near them.
Now things had been going pretty smoothly up to this point. However, our luck ran out. We were in search of the catacombs at St. Peter’s Cemetary, which was adjacent to the Festival Halls. We wandered around St. Peter’s Monestary grounds and took a wrong turn. It resulted in Cheryl and I walking up several hundred steps and hiking above the church grounds towards the Salzburg Fort. Good grief. Fifteen minutes later we made our way back down to our original starting point, took a left instead of a right and immediately found the path to the catacombs.
The catacombs was the location where the Von Traps took refuge in the movie. The catacombs were supposedly at the abbey, but in realty the catacombs are located at St. Peter’s Monestary. The catacombs date back to the third century A.D. and were actually never used in the movie (the scene was filmed on a set in L.A.) However, the real Max Detweiler (who was instrumental in entering the Von Traps in the music festival) is buried in the cataacombs. It was a beautiful location filled with flowers, and terraced gardens. (In addition, to the Sound of Music fame, the catacombs have important historical significance as Mozar’ts family is buried there and there are many beautiful frescoes in chapels surrounding the burial sites.
Next stop was the Abbey. To reach Nonnberg Abbey, we had to exit the monestary and were to the right and up, up, up a very steep path. Nonnberg Abbey (in tandem with St. Peter’s Monestary) form the foundation of Christianity in Salzberg. (And speaking of religion, I was very surprised at how important the Catholic Church is in Austria. Shops do not open on Sundays, church bells ring out over the cities on the hour every hour and it is not uncommon to see nuns and preists wandering all over the place.
Anyway, after a ten minute climb we reached the Abbey and the very famous front gate, which was the location for the scenes where Maria left the Abbey to first work for the Von Traps, where the kids came calling for Maria and were the Nazis showed up looking for the Von Traps. The gate looked exactly as it did in the movie, complete with large iron knocker.
And as luck would have it, just as we arrived, a nun was walking out the front door and through the famous gate. I thought Cheryl was going to hyperventilate she was so excited. We were also able to go inside and see the Chapel where the real Von Traps were married. I took a bunch of pictures of Cheryl, including a picture of her poking her head out the gate. Good fun!
We then walked back down to the old town and to Residenz Fountain, which was the fountain where Maria splashed the horses face while singing I Have Confidence. Unfortuantely, by the time we got there, construction of tents for Salzburg’s equivalent of Octoberfest was in full force. (It was to begin on Friday and run through the following Wednesday.) Anyway, we were able to dodge around the tents and wires to reach the fountain, but could not get a big picture of the square and the fountain. Oh well….
Last stop of the day was the Mozart Steg, the walking bridge named after the famous composer and the location for the scene where the children skipped over the bridge singing Do Re Mi while wearing curtain clothes. With pictures taken, we were done for the day … almost. It was just after 1:00 and we had about an hour before the tour of the Festival Halls. Cheryl and I wandered back across the bridge and walked the cobblestone alleys in search of Bosna Grill. It supposedly was home to the best curry sausages in Salzburg.
We found the little hole in the wall (literally), stood in line, ordered the sausages and in less than 10 minutes we were chowing. Oh my goodness. Literally! We were given a fresh roll filled with two sausages, curry powder sprinkled VERY liberally on the sausages, and mustard (Cheryl had onions and ketchup). We both agreed it was absolutely delicious.
At just before 2:00 we showed up at the Festival Halls and joined a small group of folks for the tour. We were given an introduction to the famous Salzberg Festival and the Festival Halls. The Festival is held for six weeks every year beginning in mid July, there are three Festival Halls and other than special events (3 weekends before Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter and the occasional show) the Festival Halls are only used during the six week period.
We visited two of the three Festival Halls with the first Festival Hall was the middle theater, which at one time was used as a horse riding ring. This was the theater featured in the film. Cheryl and I wandered aroumd, located the exit door where the Nazi officer runs through and says “they’re gone”, took a bunch of pictures and then moved on with the group to the second theater.
The tour was very interesting and a really great behind the scenes tour of the Festival Halls and history and production of the Salzburg Festival. After the 45 minute tour, Cheryl and I wandered back up the hill. The last stop of the day had nothing to do with the Sound of Music (shocking I know). I wanted to visit the Fortress of Salzburg so we took the tram up the hill and took 30 minute audio tour of the fortress.
The Fortress of Salzburg dates back 900 years, the fortress was never conquered and stands as one of the only fully intact fortresses in Europe. The view from the top was magnificent. You could literally see the entire region. The tour was also interesting taking us into a dungeon, through narrow stair wells, past a toilet that “flushed” onto the peasants below and a music room with a fabulous ancient organ.
After the tour, Cheryl and I wandered around the outer ramparts of the fortress looked at the views from all sides of the fortress and finally called it good. We were exhausted (and had walked over 10 miles). We took the tram back down the hill, turned and walked back up hill in the direction of the Abbey to Stiegl Keller, a restaurant and beer garden sitting high above the hill overlooking Salzburg.
Stiegl beer dates to 1492 and the restaurant and beer garden have operated on the site since 1820. Cheryl and I each ordered a pint (YIKES) of beer and enjoyed the cold deliciousness at the end of a very hot Salzburg day. After the beer and some eats, we headed back to the hotel and crashed. We were exhausted and tomorrow was another day for Sound of Music sightseeing.