I'M ON a bus with 57 other tourists singing I Am Sixteen, Going on Seventeen.
It's fun. Really fun. Well, it's sort of fun - after three hours, I feel like jumping out the window.
"I can't hear you," the tour guide coaxes the mumbling throng. "Sing!"
The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg caters to tourists who yearn to absorb the atmosphere of the movie that was filmed there in 1963.
Salzburg, through the eyes of these fans, has particular charms.
Look, here's where Julie Andrews and the children ran around the fountain. This hotel is where actor Christopher Plummer got drunk at night. Is that mountain where Maria spins around in the opening scene? It is 20 kilometres from Nonnberg Abbey - she'd never have made it back in time for dinner.
The tour is four hours long.
You will not lose the bus. It is loudly painted with scenes from the film and can be seen several blocks away.
But luckily, the schmaltzy decoration and narration is just part of the tour. The upside? Salzburg is so incredibly beautiful that it's a privilege just to be here.
About 1.5 million visitors descend on Salzburg each year and about 300,000 of those are drawn by The Sound of Music lore.
The tour takes visitors first to Castle Leopoldskron, which is set on a small, exquisite lake. It is where all the back patio scenes were filmed and the lake is where Maria and the children tipped into the water. Privately owned, it can be admired only from afar.
Next is Hellbrunn Palace to see the Sixteen Going on Seventeen gazebo and the lane where Maria sang I Have Confidence. Cameras flash! People pose. I actually see a couple skipping.
The bus trundles into the lake district, headed for Mondsee and its cathedral, where the wedding scene was filmed. Even when accompanied by half-hearted choruses of The Lonely Goatherd, it's a gorgeous drive.
The most amazing part of the tour is realising that, while foreigners can quote every word of The Sound of Music in their sleep, most Austrians have never seen it.
"Our view is that Mozart is in the first row," Juliane Breyer, spokeswoman for the Landestheater in Salzburg, later says. "It's a parallel world. You can be in Salzburg without being aware of The Sound of Music. Now, it's coming to surface. It's now more present."
Salzburg still is a place where windows are washed, featherbeds are fluffed and children behave.
It has nearly 20 Catholic churches. Manners are formal.
Dirndls are in style.
But on November 2 last year, the old town's towering glockenspiel began playing a new song.
At 3pm, the notes rang through the streets, repeating five times, tinkling a certain melody:
"Edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning you greet me ..."
What is remarkable is that the song is not an old Austrian folk song. Nor, as many believe, is it the national anthem of Austria. Nor familiar to Austrians at all.
It was written in 1959 by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for The Sound of Music.
And here it was, wafting across the Mozartplatz, right past the statue of Mozart.
It turns out that the new glockenspiel song is tied not to the tours but to the opening of a new exhibit at Salzburg's Panorama Museum, The Trapp Family: Reality and The Sound of Music, which explains the complex story of the real family and how they became legends.
More astonishingly, it also marks the first-ever stage production of The Sound of Music in Salzburg, which debuted on October 23 last year at the Landestheater. Why didn't a Salzburg theatre ever mount the musical before?
Why did it take 62 years?
"This was the whole dilemma," Breyer says. "It was too close to the war. It was still too emotional; a topic not to be touched. Also, it was kitsch.
"To be shown their own kitsch by a foreigner, they didn't like it."
Now, the musical is sold out through January and most of the patrons are Austrians.
So I finish the Original Sound of Music Tour and, by the time I get off the bus, it's dark. I walk through the dim Mirabel Gardens, pass the fountains and amble towards my hotel. Clanging church bells ring the time: 6pm.
The shops haven't closed yet.
Bright against the cold night, they still sell their Mozart confectionery, The Sound of Music calendars, bright fabrics, loden coats.
I chance upon a market where vendors sell five kinds of wurst and seven kinds of gigantic pretzels. Above, the lighted Hohensalszburg Fortress looms over the old town.
That evening, I go to the fortress to hear the Salzburger Mozart Ensemble. It's satisfying. It's good.
I feel pretty much alive with the sound of ... well, you know.
If you're looking for an extremely well presented, modern home with great side access and knockout shed then look no further. Just 6 years old, this 4 bedroom low...
Truly a contemporary masterpiece!!! A unique residence, just 10 minutes from Mackays' CBD. Perched at the top of a 3,384m2 hill top position. Peace, comfort and...
This riverside apartment boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms, gourmet kitchen, and a delightful open plan living area with stunning views. The main bedroom has a...
Mostly lightly timbered open forest with a good coverage of pangola and signal grass. Some cleared or selectively cleared country including creek flat. Boundary...
If it's a project you're looking for, this great home in South Mackay on 607m2 offers an abundance of potential and is the perfect opportunity to add value and...
Watch 'The Block'? Now is your chance to get your hands dirty and create your dream home or investment opportunity at an entry level price! Located on a large...
From the moment you step across the threshold you get the feeling of easy elegance in this 2009 built 4 bedroom family home. Quality at every turn has produced a...
Epitomising stylish acreage living, this extensive property offers stunning ocean and rural views with the peace and quiet of the bush. Set on 32 acres (12.95...
This neat and tidy 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom and 1 car accommodation unit offers its new owner a quiet, peaceful retreat close to all major facilities. Why pay rent or...
- Large family home set on an elevated 758sqm block. Great location only minutes away from Northern Beaches Shopping Centre, schools and the beach. - 5 generous...
Join the Community.
Get your local news, your way.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.