The Hills are alive with the sounds of Salzburg!

There’s something like 25-30% of tourists who come to Salzburg purely to go on the Sound of Music Tour; we were one of them. This just so happened to be my 26th birthday weekend so 3 of our friends flew over from London to join in on the festivities.

We arrived by train from Vienna in just under 3 hours. The weather forecast was looking pretty grim for the weekend so I had all my toes and fingers crossed that whilst it may be cold, it wouldn’t rain. To our surprise there was very little rain during the day, but we were told that Salzburg is one of the wettest cities in the world, with roughly 151 days of rain during the year. So when it came to filming the Sound of Music, the cast and crew ended up staying in the city for 11 weeks rather than the planned 6.

One of the first things I noticed here was that the people were a lot friendlier than those in Vienna, but I suppose this is what you see in a lot of small cities. Like Vienna, there were no free walking tours offered here so we did our own sightseeing. I suppose the main tourist area of Salzburg could be divided into the ‘New Town’ and the ‘Old Town’ and to get from one side to the other involves a very short walk across the bridge. The Old Town is the much more expensive side so many tourists opt to stay on the other side of the bridge. Its a very small city and would probably only take the average person a whole hour to do a whole walk around both the old and new towns. One of the other big attractions here is Mozart; his birthplace and his house are both major attractions here. They even have a specially designed chocolate called ‘Mozart Balls’ which are chocolate balls with a marzipan centre.

The buildings here are beautiful, but one thing I didn’t expect was the majority of stores in Old Town are now chain fashion stores such as H&M and Zara. So whilst it looks like a historical city centre, its very much succumbed to the ways of most Western cities. Another thing we noticed was the huge number of beggars on the streets, roughly one on every street corner, they looked like Romanians (though I can’t be sure) and at one stage we counted over 10 in span of about 15 minutes of walking. A sad sight to see, but as there were so many of them, it was difficult to establish the true nature of their position.

On the Saturday evening (the night before my birthday), we headed out for a delicious meal at an Austrian restaurant called “Gablerbrau”. It was great, hearty food and what we thought was authentic Austrian cuisine. We followed this up with a walk in the rain looking for a bar, but after walking for about 30 mins being completely drenched and realising the city becomes a ghost town at night, we opted for the ever reliable token Irish Pub. It was an underground pub so no noise could be heard from the street, but when we entered we saw the the place was absolutely packed and that this was probably where everyone that was still awake was hanging out!

Now to Sound of Music Tour – unfortunately the tour company forgot to pick us up, and as our friends were staying in a different hotel, they had arrived at the meeting point earlier and attempted to reserve seats for us on the coach. By the time they finally picked us up and brought us to the meeting point, the coach had left and we had to take the tour on a minibus with three other tourists. Initially we were bummed but this ended up being a blessing in disguise. We had a fantastic guide from Spain called ‘Antonio’ who also happened to be great with the camera, I didn’t have to bring out my tripod at any stage. And as there were still 3 seats available on our bus, our friends were able to transfer over which they too were relieved about. The great thing about being on the minibus was that we arrived at the attractions a lot quicker than the coach which meant photos without other tourists in the way.

Along the tour we stopped by the following locations which were part of the movie:
– Mansion by the lake used for external scenes
– The Gazebo (I am 16 going on 17)
– The path that Maria sang ‘I have confidence in me’
– The steps where the kids and Maria sang ‘Do a deer’
– The street where the kids are hanging off the trees
– The Garden and fountain (Maria sings something but can’t quite remember)
– The Abbey
It was a great tour, and of course when we were driving through the hills, the soundrack had to be played 🙂

The following day was a road trip day for Jason and I as the girls had left for London the earlier evening. We drove just over an hour to the beautiful town of Hallstatt. The day could not have been any better with clear blue skies, exactly what we needed to accentuate the the colours of the lakes and mountains in the town and along the drive. After this we took another hour to drive to the Salt Mines which was technically in Germany. Its actually amazing how easy it is to cross the border, with zero checks at all. The Salt Mines were an incredible experience it involved: sitting on a mini train to get into the deeper parts of the mine, sliding down an unusual and steep wooden slide & sitting on a boat which was floating in an old mine whilst being entertained by a light show. It was all quite surreal, not what we expected for a mine tour, and something we would highly recommend.

So now we’re on a 6 hour train headed to Prague!

Til next time
Ann & Jason xo


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