Did you know the hills are alive? They’re alive with the sound of music. They are, in fact, alive with songs they have sung for a thousand years. We will not lie to you, we did not see the exact hills of the Sound of Music opening. The meadows used for filming were located 30 or 40 miles south of Salzburg. We did however see many other nice hills and Sound of Music sights today! For those of you who have not seen the movie, here’s the original trailer to entice you:
We ate breakfast at the hostel today. It was not included but the cost was cheap and it was really convenient considering we had to be out of the hostel early to catch our tour bus. We walked to the city center and waited in front of Bob’s Special Tours until our minibus arrived. There ended up being 6 of us on our wonderful 4 hour Sound of Music tour: a couple from Arizona, a pair of men from Boston & Chicago (they were doing a little sightseeing after some work training in Frankfurt) and the two of us. Our tour guide was from the area. She’s lived in Salzburg for twenty years and has had the pleasure of meeting 3 of the real life Von Trapp kids. We found the tour very well done. We got a nice city tour, a tour of the Sound of Music sights and a trip out through the countryside to the lakes that we wouldn’t have done otherwise. Plus we were settled into a warm bus…rather than shuffling through the cold rain. Today we had lovely 3 degree Celcius temperature with light on-and-off showers. Ugh.
The first stop on our tour was the back of Captain Von Trapp’s house. Schloss Leopoldskron was built by Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg Count Leopold in the 18th century on the banks of a preexisting lake. Sound of Music fans will definitely recognize the back of the palace and the lake. This was not the home of the actual Von Trapp family, but the palace was used for the exterior shots of the back of the Von Trapp family home. This location is featured in the terrace scenes with the Baroness playing with the children and Maria and the Captain arguing. As well, this is where the children and Maria fall off their boat into the lake.
Hellbrunn Palace was built in 1613 by the current Prince-Archduke of Salzburg. The famous I am Sixteen gazebo was located beside the palace. Unfortunately it is now locked and tourists cannot enter…too many injuries to overenthusiastic fans. All sunny day closeups of the gazebo and filming of those classic gazebo songs was done in Hollywood. The Austrian gazebo was only used for exterior locations and shots where it is raining. The gazebo has been moved twice since it’s original location. The owners of each location did not enjoy the hoards of tourists singing and dancing around the gazebo in their gardens.
This might be one of the funnest songs of the whole movie. Are you wishing you could watch it right now? We are! So let’s do it:
Leaving this stop we were directed to the tree lined road beside us and told to snap our photos here. The scenes where Maria skips down the treed road to the Von Trapp’s and where the children are caught playing in the trees were not actually filmed here. They were filmed at a location that has been transformed into a park beside a lake and most of the original trees are gone. Instead we snapped our photos and clicked our heels like Maria at this spot…although this was hard to capture in a photo, that’s why Kristin looks rather demented in this picture…
We made a quick stop in the Lakes District of Austria. Overlooking the resort town Salzkammergut we got an scenic look at the lake below, the small town and the nearby mountains. Gorgeous! This location can be see in the opening sequence in the movie.
Mondsee Cathedral dates from the 8th century and was where Maria and Captain Von Trapp were married, in the movie that is. Their real life counterparts were married at the abbey in Salzburg…we saw that too. The church is nice enough from the outside, but much more impressive inside. The walls were decorated with many large pieces that glowed with gold detailing. Interestingly, they lengthened the church by filming Maria walking down the aisle 4 times and then combined each take into one. Look closely you will see the same people sitting in the church during each take!
We ended back in Salzburg, across the river from the old town center. The Mirabell Gardens are located in the heart of Salzburg next to its palace from the 1600’s. These gardens feature fountains, statues & a variety of bright flowers and are featured in Do-Re-Mi. The children danced around the Pegasus fountain (so we did too!) and rode bikes through the green archway. They also used the white stairs as the steps of a musical scale when they are learning to sing. The garden was so recognizable as a movie location that we were a little giddy…and photo happy.
When we’d finished with our Sound of Music tour guide we embarked on a self guided Rick Steves walking tour of the city. Here are a few of the more interesting parts…aka the parts that have to do with Sound of Music!
The Nonnberg Abbey is the oldest female convent north of the Alps and has been in existance since 714. This abbey is where Maria Augusta Von Kutschera arrived and presented herself as a candidate for the sisterhood of Benedictine nuns. After serving as a governess, Maria and Captain Von Trapp were married in the Abbey Church in 1927. This abbey was also featured in the film. The opening abbey scenes and the performance of the song “Maria” occurred here as well as when the children come to the abbey to ask Maria to return to their home.
As you walk through the city center you pass the Salzburg Festival Hall. This is made up of a few different buildings and stages. The Rock Riding School is one part. The real Von Trapp family sang in a choir competiton here. In the movie, this is where Captain Von Trapp sings “Edelweiss” while their escape is being organized behind the curtains.
St. Peter’s Cemetary is the oldest cemetery in Salzburg and is surrounded by three churches. The cemetery where the Von Trapp family hid out was filmed in Hollywood but this cemetery inspired the scene. It is a most inspiring cemetery! It is gorgeous with intricate wrought iron crosses rather than grave stones. They couldn’t film here because no one is skinny enough to hide behind the crosses…they needed the Hollywood set filled with stone grave markers.
Otherwise the tour was mostly just churches and open squares. Salzburg has a lot of squares! Rather than show you our photos why don’t you just check them out in this awesome video:
Isn’t that the most repetitive song ever. We love it 🙂
We wasted some time in the afternoon by watching chess. There is an over-sized chess board in Residenzplatz, one of the city’s main squares, and there were a pair of guys from Georgia playing. We were drawn in by the end of their first match. We are huge nerds because we were actually interested in watching how the game played out. We then proceeded to watch 2 more games…and enjoy it. Like we said, nerds.
Our time killing allowed us to go up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress after the exhibits had all closed. This meant it was way cheaper to ride the funicular…aka funny elevator thing. This fortress was never actually used, it was so imposing no one ever attacked it. We were pleased to see we could still explore the castle exterior along with getting some great city shots. It’s nice to go high up in places and get the full panoramic view.
For supper we went to a Rick Steves recommended place: Saran Essbar. It had an intimate feel and featured a picture of our waiter with Rick on the wall. Kristin rocked the Salzburg sausage plate with sauerkraut & boiled potatoes. She has discovered that she doesn’t mind sauerkraut…it tastes kind of like pickles…but not… Justine had the beef goulash with bread dumplings. She thoroughly enjoyed it.
Oh…PS…Mozart was born, grew up and wrote all of his boy-genius, musical prodigy pieces here…in case you were interested…we obviously weren’t overly into that…
Despite the weather, it was a good day. Highlights of the Day (because at some point we just stopped doing this…but maybe we’ll bring it back):
– Skipping around the I am Sixteen gazebo and hopping up & down the Do Re Mi stairs 🙂
– We don’t really get cold rain at home. We get rain in the spring or thunderstorms in the summer, but in the winter our precipitation is snow.
What We Learned Today:
– We don’t like it when it is cold and rainy.
– Captain Von Trapp does not have a first name!
Love, Luck & La…a note that follows So!