The Hills are Alive….and so much more…

So, anyone that has been following the blog will know that today was The Sound of Music Tour in beautiful Salzburg, Austria. Richard and I don’t usually do day tours (except maybe Hobbiton, and a couple of castles that do not allow you to enter on your own) but I really couldn’t resist. The Sound of Music has been one of my favorite movies since I was young (perhaps that is part of my fascination with Austria), so I couldn’t pass up a chance to visit some of the movie sites and hear a little bit of insider gossip of what happened on the set back in 1964.

To begin, the Von Trapps were/are a real family. Maria Von Kutschera was actually a novice at the abbey when she was asked to tend to one of the Captain von Trapp’s children who was quite ill. She fell in love with the children, he fell in love with her and they got married. Where this begins to differ from the movie is the time frame. They were actually married in 1927 and didn’t leave Salzburg until 1938. They did not cross the mountains but rather took a train to Italy. They did some performing around Europe at this time and saved enough money to get them passage to America. They purchased a small ranch in Vermont and the family resides there still.

But, who cares about the real Von Trapps? What about the movie?!?! Our bus tour started at Mirabell Palace in the centre of Salzburg. Before we boarded the bus, we met a nice young girl from Tisdale, Saskatchewan, who is currently teaching in Sweden. Who says that it is not a small world? So, off we went. David, our British tour guide, who now lives here, was an amazing host. He was funny, informative and best of all, loved to sing. The whole tour was peppered with songs from the movie, blasting through the speakers, with each of us of course trying to sing along. Oh, what fun. Poor Julie Andrews – we pretty much butchered everything!!

Our first actual stop of the tour was at The Palace of Leopoldskron. The rear terrace of this palace was used for several scenes including Maria and the Captain dancing during the ball, the family drinking lemonade with the Baroness and many other family scenes. The adjacent lake was the scene of the boat capsizing with Maria and the children. The area is beautiful with the mountains lingering in the background. In fact, the mountain that you will see in some of these pictures is the mountain that the Von Trapps are climbing while fleeing from their beloved Austria at the end of the movie. Of course, as I mentioned, they actually left by train. If they had actually climbed this mountain, they would have ended up in Germany!! Oops!!

We then drove by the Frohnburg Palace and Hellbrunn Alley, which was the set for all the house scenes from the front. These included Maria arriving at the Von Trapp household with her suitcase and guitar, Captain Von Trapp tearing down the Nazi flag and the family pushing the car out of the driveway on their way to the festival. About a kilometre and a half from this palace we saw the gazebo where “I Am 16, Going on 17” was filmed. We were not allowed to enter as it is now locked. Apparently a few years ago an older couple was trying to reenact this scene by running and jumping around the benches. Unfortunately, the lady fell, broke her hip and ended up with a few other bumps and bruises. It just became too risky for the tour company. Silly people….

Our tour then took us out to the Lake District about 20 kms from Salzburg. This area is absolutely beautiful. We stopped to take some pictures at Lake Wolfgang which is a very popular summer resort. This lake is also one of four that appear in the opening sequence of the movie – you know, the one where Maria aka Julie Andrews is singing and twirling on the hills. Ahhh, so amazing!!!

We stopped for lunch and a walkabout in the little village of Mondsee. The Basilica of St. Michael’s is the focal point of this area and also served as the scene for the wedding of Maria and Georg von Trapp. The movie scene aside, this is a beautiful church with much different decor than most of the other churches that we have seen. We took a walk down to the lake to eat a strudel and sit and enjoy the beautiful sunshine.

All too soon it was time to get back into the bus and head back to Salzburg. We stopped back at Mirabell Palace and our guide took us into the gardens where we were able to see the sets (and even get a picture or two) for the song “Do Re Mi” where Maria and the children dance from fountain to fountain and end the song on the steps with Maria reaching one of the highest notes in the movie. Though we all tried to reach that note on the bus, I don’t think that any of us came close!!

Once we left our group, Richard and I walked back to Mozart’s bridge which is also part of the “Do, Re, Mi” song. After a few pictures there, we climbed the stairs to Nonnberg Abbey where the actual Maria was a novice. A few scenes were also shot at the gates of this abbey – remember, when the children come to find out why Maria has abruptly left their home and also where the nuns disable the Nazi vehicles allowing the von Trapps to escape. The abbey is still active today so we did not get any further than the gate. However, the views from the hill on which it sits are well worth the walk. All in all the tour was delightful and I would recommend it, even if you are not a Sound of Music fan. As the tour guide said, Salzburg is definitely the main character in the movie and what a beautiful character it is!!

A little something to start you off.

Almost ready to go.




The Palace that was used for the back of the house which also looked over the lake.



The famous Gazebo. There were three gazebos built for the movie. The other two were in Hollywood and the bigger of the two was used for the 16 going on 17 song.




On our way to the lake district we were offered Gluhwein which is a traditional hot Austrian wine. We also had our first sing a long.


Saint Michael’s Basilica where the wedding took place. It looks much larger in the movie.



Mirabell Palace / Gardens where a lot of the Do Re Mi scenes were done.






The Mozart Bridge, another spot for the Do Re Mi.



The Abbey which Maria left to take care of the Von Trapp children.


A short montage of our day relating to The Sound of Music.