ONE of the highlights of our family trip to Europe was our three-day visit to the Austrian city of Salzburg, the birthplace of world renowned composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the setting for the classic 1964 Oscar winner The Sound of Music. From the Paris Garde du Nord Train Station, we boarded an early-morning, 3.5-hour high-speed TGV train (a first for me, my wife Grace, children Jandy and Cheska and my grandson Kyle) to Stuttgart in Germany, where we transferred to another train for the remaining four-hour (380-kilometer) trip to Salzburg.
We arrived at the Salzburg Train Station by 4 pm and, after checking in at the nearby Hotel Garni Evido Salzburg City Center, we started our walking tour of the city, visiting the nearby famous, geometrically arranged Mirabell Gardens where several scenes of The Sound of Music were filmed.
Here, Maria (Julie Andrews) and the Von Trapp children sang “Do-Re-Mi” while dancing around the Pegasus Fountain and using the steps as a musical scale. Come evening, we attended “The Sound of Salzburg Dinner Show” at Sternbräu Restaurant where we and other guests were entertained by a harmonic blending of songs from the film, plus Mozart, operettas and other excerpts of Salzburg’s musical past, all these after dining on a three-course menu that also included apple strudel, the popular and traditional Austrian pastry.
The next day, after an early breakfast at our hotel, we again walked to Mirabell Gardens where we joined Panorama Tours “The Original Sound of Music Tour” with other tourists onboard an air-conditioned bus. Our Australian guide Peter was very funny and made the tour entertaining. During the four-hour tour, we were shown the most important sights in and around Salzburg where The Sound of Music was filmed.
At Leopoldskron Palace, we walked along the lake where the famous boating scene was filmed. At Hellbrunn Palace, we dropped by The Sound of Music Pavilion, the gazebo where the “16 Going on 17” scene and the kissing scene of Maria and Capt. Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) were shot. At the end of the film’s shoot, the pavilion was presented as a gift to the city of Salzburg. It once stood in the grounds of Leopoldskron Palace, but constant trespassing resulted in it being moved and, in 1991, was reconstructed and shown publicly by the city council in the ornamental gardens of Hellbrunn. Neaby is the tree-lined road where Capt. Von Trapp espied his own children hanging from the trees.
After our location tour within the Salzburg, we were driven out into the Salzburg Lake District area at Saint Gilgen, passing Lake Fuschl and Lake Wolfgang, where panoramic shots and scenes of the picnic were filmed. Our last stop was at the famous Minor Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel in Mondsee, where the wedding of Maria and Baron von Trapp was filmed. Afterward, we had a little break to have lunch and explore this little town by ourselves.
Back in Salzburg, we each purchased Salzburg Cards which provides free admission to Salzburg’s museums and free use of the Untersberg cableway, the funicular railway that departs from the Festungsgasse and leads up the 506 meter high Festunberg to Fortress Hohensalzburg (built in 1077), the largest, fully preserved fortress in Central Europe. We started our tour at the latter. Back down, we continued on with a stop at Saint Peter’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery considered as the oldest monastery in the German-speaking area, with a continuous history since its foundation in 696. Despite what some overenthusiastic tour guides might tell you, the cemetery in which the von Trapps hid from the Nazis is just a Hollywood studio set, though its design is clearly based on Saint Peter’s cemetery.
To avail of our free museum passes, we also visited the Salzburg Residenz, one of the most impressive attractions in the city. Formerly the residence of the Archbishops of Salzburg, it is now a museum that houses the Residenzgalerie, which presents paintings from the 16th to the 18th century, and Austrian paintings from the 19th century. Finally, we also visited the “Geburtshaus,” the house where Mozart was born. Here, we visited the original rooms in which the Mozart family lived.
On exhibit are a range of artifacts, including Mozart’s childhood violin, his clavichord, portraits and letters belonging to the Mozart family.
In between museum visits, we also dropped by the Kollegienkirche (Collegiate Church) and the 17th-century Salzburg Cathedral, both elaborate Baroque churches of Salzburg; and the Mozertplatz with its statue of Mozart by Ludwig Schwanthaler, which was ceremoniously unveiled on September 5, 1842.