Many years ago I stumbled across a thriller writer by the name of Helen McInnes and one of those stories was set in Salzburg.
Reading about a place in such a setting and with all manner of intrigue going on, is it any wonder we might want to go and look for ourselves?
We have, twice, once as a whistle-stop between Vienna and Innsbruck, such a quick visit we had time for lunch, a dash around the old town, a look in the river, and get back on the train after a night in what might have been a gloomy dark hotel.
The second w3as longer, and yes, the Sound of Music tour was on the list.
So was the incessant rain, but in that sort of picturesque countryside, how could it be anything but both magical and mystical?
Along with My Fair Lady, another of my favourite musicals was Sound of Music and having seen it a number of times over the years, it had conjured up a number of images of Salzburg in my mind, and with them a desire to go there. We had been to Salzburg once before, an overnight train stop between Vienna and Innsbruck, an afterthought, but what we saw then was reason enough to come back later and spend several days.
A pity then the day we arrived, and for much of our stay, it rained. But, like hardened travelers, very little stops us from doing anything, and particularly sightseeing.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza – The Pitter in a very well appointed room. Breakfast included, it was a great way to start the day. The afternoon we arrived we went for a short walk to the old city passing through the Mirabelle gardens with the Pegasus Fountain, Rose Garden, and Dwarves Garden. Later we discovered that the archway had been used in part of the filming of Sound of Music.
We took the Festungsbahn funicular railway up to the Fortress Hohensalzburg, dating back to 1077, and the largest fortress still standing in Europe. We spent a pleasant afternoon wandering through the rooms and exhibits and then had lunch at a café, the Salzburg Fortress Café, that overlooked the countryside. This was where we were introduced to Mozart Gold Chocolate Cream added to our coffee.
It led us to search for the product which we eventually found in a confectionary store, Holzemayr in the Alter Markt. Not only sis we find the Gold liqueur there was also a dark chocolate variety as well. We bought a whole box to bring back with us, as well as a number of other chocolates including Victor Schmidt Austrian Mozart Balls, a delicious chocolate and marzipan combination.
With another afternoon to spare we visited the Salzburg Residence which previously housed Salzburg’s ruling prince-archbishops. We visited the reception rooms and living quarters, as well as the Gallery. It is as ornate as any of the palaces in Austria, resplendent with furnishings and paintings. After that, the visit to Mozart’s birthplace was something of an anticlimax.
But, what we were in Salzburg for, the Sound of music tour, and the places we visited:
The Mirabelle gardens, where Maria sang Do Re Mi in front of the gates to the gardens. We spent some time here before and after the tour, and also has a look inside the Mirabelle Palace, which is not open to the public as it is the city administrative offices.
Leopoldskron Palace where the boating scene was filmed as well as exteriors. They were not allowed to film inside the place and were only allowed to use the exterior. An interesting tidbit of information, one of the children nearly drowned.
Heilbrunn palace is now home to the gazebo where Rolf and Liesl sang their song, ‘16 going on 17’. The interesting part of this was the fact the Gazebo used to film the scene was much larger than the actual Gazebo on display.
The walkway from the fortress back to the old city passes Nonnberg Abbey where Maria was a novice, and where the opening scenes were filmed. A number of scenes were filmed here, including the song ‘Maria’ in the courtyard. The tour only showed the exterior of the Abbey.
Salzburg lake district where panorama and picnic scenes were filmed. Even on the dullest of days, during which throughout our tour in continually rained, the scenery was still magnificent.
Mondsee church, where the wedding scenes were filmed. It was surprising just how small the church really is. It was also a stop to have afternoon tea or some ‘famous’ apple strudel.
Needless to say, we watched Sound of Music straight after the tour and managed to pick out all of the places we had been to. The only downside to the tour, singing along to the songs. I’m sorry, but I do not sing, and some of those that were, well, I say no more.