Travel

Alive with The Sound of Music

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.

>> Read more travel stories.

Topics:  sound of music travel travelling


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

The Show must go on

UP AND RUNNING: Vice President and show jumping steward of Show Whitsunday Kevin Krog, President Donna Rogers and treasurer Helen Wright on the grandstand at Proserpine Showgrounds.

Show Whitsunday will be on again this year

Whitsunday Latin Festival a big sell out

SHOWTIME: The Whitsunday Latin Festival was a big hit this year.

Festival reports attendance double in 2017.

Today Show hits Airlie

STARS ON SIGHT: It was just over a year ago when the Today Show made a visit to the Whitsundays and they'll be back again tomorrow morning.

Head down to Abell Point Marina to catch the Today Show

Local Partners

Whitsunday Latin Festival a big sell out

Latin Festival reports attendance double in 2017.

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

What public holidays are left in 2017

Ipswich residents will get the day off tomorrow for the show.

IPSWICH residents will get tomorrow off for the show

Caitlyn comes home to launch debut album

Gympie's Caitlyn Shadbolt will launch here debut album Songs On My Sleeve at an exclusive all-ages concert in Gympie on Friday, May 26.

Win tickets to Caitlyn's album launch

Concert death toll revised up to 22, tour suspended

TWENTY-TWO people have been killed and at least 59 people have been injured following a terror attack in Manchester

Casual Keanu says fame is ‘cool’

Keanu Reeves in a scene from the movie John Wick: Chapter 2.

NOBODY expected much of John Wick when it was released in 2014.

Ariana Grande breaks her silence after fatal blast

According to reports quoting witnesses, a mass emergency evacuation was prompted after explosions were heard at the end of US singer Ariana Grande's concert in the arena.

The entertainment industry is in shock after attack on concert

Pitch Perfect star suing Woman’s Day over ‘liar’ articles

Actor Rebel Wilson outside court on Friday.

REBEL Wilson's career destroyed by grubby campaign, court hears.

Seven Year Switch: The boner to end all boners

Johnny’s outraged over claims he has a cracked boner.

She gulps. Her face says it all.

Bay to star in Hollywood shark thriller ‘Cage Dive’

Cage Dive, written and directed by Gerald Rascionato, is now screening in the United States of America. It had scenes filmed in Hervey Bay.

And our visiting humpback whales also make appearance.

Celebrity sex tapes: Where does all that money go?

Basically, did Paris and Kim earn fortunes from their videos?

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Deputy Premier makes massive call on controversial sand mine

Aerial view of the proposed Forest Glen sand mine.

BREAKING: State Government makes huge call on Coast sand mine plans

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!