Tour guide Zara

Tour guide Zara

Our cheesy bus

Our cheesy bus

Our real tour guide

Our real tour guide

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Leopoldskron Palace

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The Gazebo

The Gazebo

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The church where the Captain and Maria tied the knot

The church where the Captain and Maria tied the knot

Post-tour beer garden

Post-tour beer garden

Full disclosure.  I’m one of those Sound of Music freaks.  I’ve probably seen the movie at least a 100 times, was in the musical with my sister, Amanda, at the Wharf Theater in 1982 and performed it with my siblings at home more times than was fair to my parents.  My two sisters and I donned dirndls, my brother wore lederhosen and we recruited friends to fill out the rest of the Von Trapp family.  In fairness, my mom was born in Austria during WW II, so we felt an especially close tie to the story.

I’d dreamed of visiting Austria with my mother since I was in my teens, and had even made a point of going out of my way to avoid Austria on prior European trips, preferring to wait until I could do so with my mother at my side.  Once her ticket was booked, I had to add Salzburg to the itinerary.  And was there ever ANY doubt that we’d take a Sound of Music tour in Salzburg?

Interestingly, there are at least two tour companies that lay claim to the “original Sound of Music tour”.  We went with Panorama Tours and had a fantastic time, owing in very large part to our very entertaining guide.  Zara eagerly dressed in the dirndl we had recently bought her in Grossraming, my mom’s hometown.

I was just a wee bit excited and determined to snag good seats on the bus, so we arrived nearly half an hour early.  The bus was already there, as was our tour guide, but Zara took it upon herself to climb into the driver’s seat. By the time the other passengers started arriving, she was playing the part of official tour guide, requesting their tickets and asking them whether they’d like a beverage.

The actual tour was relatively light on sights, but our guide’s humorous banter regarding Sound of Music trivia, the soundtrack playing in the background, the gorgeous scenery and the general enthusiasm on the bus made it a complete blast.

So what did we see?

  • Leopoldskron Palace:  This is on the lake where the famous boating scene was filmed and served as the Captain’s backyard, although the interior scenes of the Von Trapp home were filmed elsewhere.
  • Hellbrunn Palace and the Gazebo: The gazebo where the “16 going on 17” scene was filmed was originally located at Leopoldskron Palace, but due to constant trespassing from crazed SOM fans, they moved it to this location and reconstructed it.  It is a lot smaller than I’d expected and the gazebo’s interior scenes actually were filmed on a sound stage, because the gazebo wasn’t large enough.  (In fact, you can no longer even enter the gazebo, as they locked it after an elderly woman injured herself trying to channel Liesl leaping from bench to bench.)
  • Nonnberg Abbey: A quick drive by of this still active convent where the real Maria was a novice.
  • Salzburg Lake District: Where the picnic scenes were filmed high on a hill…
  • Mondsee: Where the wedding scene was actually filmed (although it was supposed to be Nonnberg Abbey).

As our tour bus climbed the verdant hills towards Mondsee, “Edelweiss” was piped through the bus’s speakers, transporting me back 30+ years as we unabashedly sang along (and I fought back a few tears).  The only thing that could have made the experience sweeter would have been to have my siblings by my side (but then I would have required a full box of tissues).  And special thanks to my sister, Amanda, who was always our musical director —

p.s. Even Jonathan enjoyed the tour, although he did admit to one cringe-worthy moment when he saw a group of tourists burst into laughter when they saw our tour bus.

 

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