Day 2 saw Cheryl and I up early and off to Europa Car for our car rental. The last five sites on the Sound of Music Tour around Salzburg were not within walking distance so I had rented a car for the trip around the area.
Once we had our little Volkswagen Golf and our Garmin for directions we set out for the little town just south of Salzburg called Anif, which was the site of the Anif Water Castle featured in the aerial opening scenes of the movies. The Water Castle was a 17th century neo-Gothic Castle surrounded by water and privately owned. We were not sure of the exact address as the book only provided general directions (ie it is right past the Hotel zum Schlosswirt near a gravel path). We drove past the hotel and my navigator (Cheryl) spotted the tall spire of the Water Castle behind a row of trees so we doubled back and parked in the hotel parking lot and walked down the road. Unfortunately, the sun was directly behind the Water Castle and a huge willow tree was also blocking our view so it made it tough to see the beautiful structure. And there was that sign at the front of the driveway that told us in no uncertain terms that this was private property and no entrance was permitted.
So with that, Cheryl and I got back in the car and drove in the opposite direction 2 km to Schloss Hellbrun, the location where the “Gazebo” from I am Sixteen Going on Seventeen scene had been moved to approximately 20 years ago. (Originally, the Gazebo was located at Schloss Leopoldskron, which was the villa used for the backside of the Von Trap home in the movie.)
Now Schloss Hellbrun was built in the 17th century by the fun loving Prince-Archbishop Markus Sittikus. The magnificent estate was built on 148 acres and featured a beautiful Italian style villa, lavish grounds and gardens, reflecting pools, grottos and of course the famous and fabulous Wasserspiel or trick fountains that extend the entire length of the back side of the villa. The trick fountains were featured in the movie as well.
Anyway, Cheryl and I easily found Schloss Hellburn and parked in the third parking lot (as directed by the book) walked through the gate into the large park open to the public and to our immediate right …. the gazebo. Cheryl took full advantage of the fact we were the only ones there to see the gazebo by reenacting the leaping scenes filmed in the gazebo. The only downside … Cheryl wasn’t actually allowed to go in the gazebo because so many people tried to reenact the leaping scene over the years and were injured in the process that they have permanently sealed the gazebo. So Cheryl leaped around the circumfrance of the gazebo. And if you know my sister, she doesn’t have great leaping abilities so the result was a hysterical hybrid of leaping and skipping. I actually made her do it over and over again just because I was laughing so much I was having trouble getting a good shot.
Once the requisite pictures were taken, Cheryl and I wandered down the long lane to the villa and decided to do a tour of the water fountains. Good (uh no) GREAT call. The water fountains were spectacular and amazing not only because of the sheer beauty of some of the fountains, but because of the amazing technology that was created several hundred yaers ago to run the fountains.
The Prince Archibishop loved to throw lavish and jovial parties (in other words a lot of alcohol flowed) and throughout the night, the Prince Archbishop would surprise his guests with a quick shower onto his unsuspecting guests from unusual and locations. For example there was a picnic table from which water sprayed and seats from which water squirted up from the middle of each seat. There were deer heads on the wall outside the villa that sprayed from the antlers. There were walkways which sprayed water as you walked by. And there were amazing little grottos that drained water down on you as you walked into the area. However, the most incredible water fountains were the tiny fountains that lined the pathway that include various moving figurines that shot water out the front of the fountains. It was simply incredible to think that these fountains have been in use for over 400 years.
During a demonstration by our guide, Cheryl and I both sat at the picnic table and while the spray came up on either side of us. No problem. But as luck would have it, our guide didn’t only spray around me … he decided to give me the full treatment (as the picture attached to this blog shows). Good thing it was a really hot day.
So after spending about an hour and a half at Schloss Hellbrun, Cheryl and I got back in the car and headed to the next site: Schloss Frohnburg another 2 km down the road. Schloss Frohnburg was the villa used for the exterior shots of the Von Trap villa. We found the villa very easily. We parked in the parking lot of a museum adjacent to the villa and walked the half mile down a path and down the road (under the trees where the children were hanging from as the Captain returned home) to the front of the villa. The residence is now used by the University of Salzburg for music students residence and study.
We took a few quick pictures, including a picture of Cheryl doing the heel clicking that Maria did as she headed towards the villa for the first time (and that was quite the site).
So with the front of the villa checked off, we got back in the car and drove several kilometers to Schloss Leopoldskron, which was used in the film for the back side of the residence. Again, my book provided the directions to a tee. We parked where the book advised and walked a quarter mile or so down a road and around to the other side of the lake where we were treated to a magnificent view of the villa.
We walked around and took a number of pictures. Unfortunately, the sun was directly overhead of the villa so it did not make for the most ideal pictures when you had to frame both the person and the villa. Nevertheless, we managed to capture some great shots and finally headed back to the car.
Our next stop was Mondsee in the lake district (Salzkammergut region). Mondsee means Moon Lake and is home to St. Michaels Church, the church used in the film for the wedding between Maria and the Captain. The drive took us on the Autobaun (damn you Garmin) instead of the more scenic 158 road (and try as a might, I could not get Garmin to put us on the 158). Anyway, the unlimited speedway of the Autobaun was quite the experience with cars flying past me even though I was driving at 120 km per hour. So with the benefit of the Autobaun were arrived in Mondsee less than 30 minutes after we left Schloss Leopoldkron (and that was with a backup to get onto the Autobaun and through some raod construction).
Once we excited the Autobaun, we had a little bit of difficulty finding the church. We could see the spires and all, but Garmin kept trying to direct me down an alley … or at least I thought it was an alley. Turns out it was actually a road and perhaps the narrowest road I had personally driven on …. although I have been on slighly narrower road with others driving. Anyway, once I drove down the alley, took a left up a cobblestone road, St. Michael’s Church immediately came into view. We parked the car in the church parking lot (although there appeared to be a no parking sign for the lot … and I say “appeared” because it wasn’t entirely clear the no parking sign was for all parking spots or only some parking spots … didn’t matter since we did not get towed.)
So with car parked, we wandered to the front of the Church and took in the magnificent splendor of the building. Eventually, we wandered inside and it did not disappoint. There were a handful of other people inside, but they did not detract in any way from the absolutely incredible design of the church. And yes, it looked exactly as it did in the film.
We learned that churches in Salzburg turned down the request to film in the Church, but St. Michael’s agreed to allow the filming. Locals filled the pews for the “ceremony” and the organ located at the upper back side of the church was actually used during the playing of “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria”.
Cheryl was a bit mesmerized by the interior. It really was spectacular and I kept forgetting that she had probably never seen the inside of churches like this so while she wandered around and took in the splendor (including the amazing alter and stained glass windows), I stood at the back and took pictures.
We eventually wandered into the church store and low and behold … the first place in the Salzburg region we had found that actually celebrated the Sound of Music. There were a number of Sound of Music items for sale I purchased a 2015 Sound of Music calendar for Cheryl. In addition, there were books about the making of the movie, picture cards, dvds, and some other items. I am certain that the church makes some decent money off the Sound of Music tourists so … good for them on capitalizing on the movie’s fame. I am certain that the churches that turned the filming request down would give anything to have a few more dollars in their coffers.
So with the tour of the church done, Cheryl and I set out to find place to eat. Mondsee was very tiny, but incredibly beautiful set right on the lake. It had a small town center and was just as cute and quaint as anything we had seen. We finally settled on Ristorante Pizzaria Nudelini and I am here to tell you if you ever find yourself in Mondsee eat at this place!
Cheryl ordered a vegetarian personal pizza and I ordered the spinach, sundried tomato and cheese gnochi done in a olive oil pesto sauce. Cheryl loved the pizza. And for me, the pasta was without a doubt THE BEST pasta I have ever had save for the four cheese gnochi I ate in Venice. (Although it was pretty much a dead heat.) The cheese was sauce was pure heaven and the gnochi were al dente perfect. It was simple, but oh so perfect. The only thing that would have made it any better would be if I could have enjoyed a glass of wine … but I was driving and we had to get going to our last stop of the day …. THE MEADOW.
Now my guide book made no mention of the meadow. In fact, the only place I could find any information about the meadow was on a site called “Big Boy Travel”. The directions seemed clear enough located in a little town just across the German border called Marktschellenberg up at the end of Mehlweg Street on the other side of guest house on “Mehlweg Mountain”.
Sounds easy enough …. Oh you have no idea the hell we went through to find this freakin’ place. First, we put the name of the guest house in and that didn’t pop up in Garmin. Next we used a street address and that worked so off we set. We drove for over half an hour through narrow twisty hairpin turn roads and countryside. Unfortunately, my fellow drivers liked to tailgate and push the speed limit despite the fact the road was so damn narrow. I was a nervous wreck by the time we located the turnoff for the guesthouse. The road became narrower and more bumpy as we drove through what we thought were peoples’ yards, a horse farm and finally up Mehlweg Street to the end. However, Garmin kept sending us in a different direction to the address we had plugged in for the guest house so we turned around and followed Garmin directions down an even narrower road to the end where there was a house with huge terrace.
At this point, we parked, got out and hiked up a pathway through some forest to figure out if this was the spot. After wandering around for half an hour I told Cheryl that Garmin has led us astray and that we were supposed to be back at the Mehlweg location a few minutes back in the opposite direction (at least based upon the printout I had from Big Boy Travel). After reading and re-reading the direction, I finally decided the problem was that when I had clicked on the picture of the meadow on the website, an aerial view popped up showing a different guesthouse with a different address had appeared.
So we got back in the car, I maneuvered a turn on the narrow road and we proceeded back up the one lane road around twisty turns (praying no cars would come towards us around the turns) and finally back up Mehlweg road to the end.
Cheryl and I then got out and proceeded to try and figure out which house was the guest house described in the directions and which meadow was the correct meadow because at this point we were surrounded by meadows. We actually ended up wandering through a neighbor’s yard (there was a cluster of of three houses near the guesthouse) and back and forth around the hillside staring at various “meadows”.
In aid of trying to figure out the correct location, we had a picture of the meadow with the mountains in the backround that we tried to match up with each site we walked to. Finally after almost an hour of hiking around (and more frustration on my part than you can possibly imagine because now I was obsessed with finding this dag blasted meadow) we finally found the location.
So with that, we set the stage, Cheryl did her twirling and then I made her do it again because the original video has me laughing so hard the camera shook up and down through the whole thing. With the second take we called it a wrap … and only after we replayed it did I realize our mistake …. I forgot my iPod to play THE SONG … so at some point we will have to dub in “The Hills are Alive” … but that could wait until we got home.
We finally jumped back in the car, drove the wrong way down the road, got slightly lost trying to get back on the main road and finally, finally made it back to Europe Car with 5 minutes to spare before the 6:00 p.m.closing time. We jumped in a cab, got back to the hotel and fell asleep. The Sound of Music Tour was done and I was done too!