I left for Salzburg from Munich…I had a work trip, quite possibly my last meeting while at NATO. As I was packing in the morning to check out of my hotel and hit the train station, I took an hour to watch the latest episode of ‘The Flash’ online. I typically don’t plug TV shows on my blog, but damn, this show is incredible. The comic book geek in me is totally loving this…so much that I’ve lost interest in ‘Arrow’, which was previously one of my can’t miss shows of the week.
After satisfying my superhero complex, I was off to Salzburg. The trains in Germany are amazing…I actually had a great lunch on-board, something called tomato coconut soup that was out of this world awesome! I also picked up some good karma on the ride, as when I paid for the meal with 50 euros, the woman gave me back my 50 together with four 10’s and some change…I was polite and gave the 50 back to her, and she was quite grateful for my honesty.
After walking around for an hour looking for my hotel, I finally checked-in and realized why I didn’t notice it when I passed right by it a few times. It wasn’t your typical hotel, it was a former berthing for seminary school students, so it had the look of a church. The rooms were very basic, and there were bibles in the drawers and crosses hanging on the wall…I guess this deters you from sinning while on holiday. The hotel had a wonderful receptionist who knew everything about Salzburg, and a pretty decent breakfast that was free…thus getting the coffee high in the morning wasn’t a problem.
So I came here for the ‘Sound of Music’ tour. I recall my Dad watching this movie when I was a kid, and I know I saw it a few times back then, though I probably didn’t understand the story, especially with all the Nazi references. Of course the music sticks in your head…I’m not sure if there’s a musical out there with more catchy songs. I’d been re-watching key scenes on YouTube these last few weeks in preparation, as I couldn’t find the full movie online to watch. It was a four-hour long tour, as it took you to the sights from the movie both inside and outside of Salzburg city limits.
Our first stop was where the Von Trapp home was…at least the one that represented the ‘water’ side of the home. Due to problems with getting permits, they had to use two different locations for the home in the movie.
Next we went to the park where ’16 going on 17’ was filmed. We had a British bachelorette party with us, and all the women were dressed as nuns, and they got this cool picture in front of the gazebo. There was this ‘ugly American’ tourist there sporting a cowboy hat and beer gut, who wanted his picture taken with the nuns as well…I thought it was funny so I also took a shot of him.
We then went to the Austrian countryside, which had stunning views. We ended up in Mondsee, the small town where the church was in the movie…the one where Maria got married. I walked around Mondsee for about an hour…there wasn’t much here, as this was a true, sleepy mountain town. I’m surprised they didn’t try and capitalize on the church’s fame more, I saw only two gift shops in the entire town.
We finished up in Mirabell Gardens, which is famous for being the final scene during the ‘Do-Re-Me’ song in the movie. The Mirabell palace wasn’t all that majestic, as it’s been turned into government offices like all the other buildings in the gardens. I loved the trees here, not sure what kind they were, but they were leafless and the branches had the appearance of nerve clusters you see in anatomy books.
I thought our tour guide was great. He was half-Austrian, half-American, and I bet he had a theatre background because he was a natural in leading the tour…telling stories and cracking jokes the whole way. I guess there were some controversies with the film, as it was actually based on a true story, but Hollywood of course took massive liberties with the truth of what happened…so much so that the real Maria Von Trapp threatened to sue, but was paid off handsomely by the Hollywood elite. He also talked about the closing scene, where the family escapes over the mountain…into Switzerland, supposedly. However, the route they were taking in the movie would, in real life, have actually led them into Germany…maybe that was the plan for the sequel. Also, the real family escaped in 1938 under more normal circumstances, taking a train from Salzburg into Italy. The tour guide also told many jokes, and I’ve documented some of them below:
-What do you call the flowers growing between your nose and chin? Tulips.
-Did you hear about the man who lost his left side? Don’t worry, he’s all right.
-Two Jewish men were at a bar in China, and asked whether there were any Jews in China. The bartender responded “of course…orange juice, apple juice….”
-Did you hear about the two tourists who visited Mozart’s grave last week? They found pages of sheet music lying on the ground, and when they looked closer, they saw the notes disappearing from the pages. Mozart was decomposing.
The old town of Salzburg was beautiful and very walkable. Unfortunately there was construction going on everywhere, but I tried to ignore it as best I could. This appears to be a great shopping city, though they of course try to capitalize on the tourism, and the worldwide obsession with ‘The Sound of Music’ and Mozart. Yes, this is also the birthplace of Mozart, and there’s a nice statue of him well-placed in a square bearing his name. I typically prefer a more subtle character to a city, not a rabid tourist vibe, because it makes the locals resentful, which is how it seemed here. Our tour guide made it clear that not many locals like ‘The Sound of Music’, probably because they are inundated with tourists every day. My favorite scene in old town was from Mozart square, where you could see a series of buildings in a row, including the majestic Salzburg cathedral…I counted at least five building peaks making it into the picture.
I loved the number of dogs here! Along with being a very pretty country, Austria is very dog friendly from what I’ve seen. I even saw some well-groomed homeless dogs and I took a great black and white shot of a woman feeding one. For a moment in the picture, you can almost see the dog’s owner and the woman ‘connecting’ through their mutual compassion for the dog.
This was probably my last trip to Austria. I love this country, and Salzburg was a really nice city. Maybe one day I’ll be back, and if I am I’ll for sure karaoke ‘My Favorite Things’!