Let me begin this by saying that I decided to do this trip less than a month ago. It all started with me looking at my calendar in February, before midterms, and realizing that I had an entire weekend open in the middle of March with nothing planned. At this point most of my friends had already made travel plans to other places so I thought that it might be a good weekend fora solo venture. Then I started thinking… if I go anywhere or do anything that I haven’t already made plans to do what would that be… Simple answer, The Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, Austria. Once that idea formed in my head there was no way of changing of it. The next day, I was sharing with some friends my idea about going to Salzburg and one of them, Julia, mentioned that she already had a flight to Vienna that weekend and was looking for someoneto go with her… thus the trip was planned.
Julia (a friend from the fundación who goes to Notre Dame) and I stayed in Madrid Thursday night with one of her friends and woke up early Friday morning for our flight to Vienna. We landed in Vienna around 11:45 and went to the nanschmarkt, a popular outdoor market in Vienna that serves all kinds of local food and produce. Here we sampled all kinds of nuts and dried fruit, I got a free nectarine, after the seller said I was too pretty to pay for it, and bratwurst of course! It was a little rough navigating at first because our German is not sehr gut (mom did I spell that right?) but everyone in Vienna was so nice and it was very easy to walk everywhere we wanted to go.
We went from our hostel to Hofburg palace and the Imperial Treasury Museum. We then continued walking to St.Stephens Cathedral where we snuck in a visit right before mass. The cathedral was interesting because it had all of these rocks hanging from the ceiling right over the pews. Afterwards we got some gelato, a beautiful mango and raspberry combination). From here we walked to the Vienna opera houseand stood in line for 3€ standing room tickets to the opera that night. Unfortunately, we decided very last minute to try to catch a show and weren’t properly dressed for the show so we didn’t get tickets. But not a problem because afterwards we made our way back by the cathedral which is where their popular shopping streets and we did a little retail therapy- window shopping style.
The streets were lined with designers like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Valentino etc. Just for kicks we decided to go into the Louis Vuitton store and they actually letus try on scarves!! Let’s just say I was on cloud 9 THE ENTIRE TIME! After my hour spent fantasizing about designer bags. We continued trough the old town of Vienna and towards the canal. It was recommended to us that we check out the Bermuda Triangle- the popular area by the canal of bars and restaurants. Here we got schnitzel and spaetzel.. After we went back to the hostel to prep for our trip tomorrow.
We woke up around 7am and had a complimentary breakfast by our hostel of toast and an assortment of meats and cheeses. We then walked to the train station and hopped on a 2 1⁄2 hour train ride to take us to Salzburg. On the way, Julia and I listened to The Sound of Music soundtrack and enjoyed watching the landscape change from city to plains to rolling hillsides to mountains. It made me choke up a little because it was honestly so perfect (listening to the soundtrack and seeing the mountains). Once we arrived, we walked from the train station to Old Town which is on the other side of the river (over a love lock bridge that had gorgeous views from either side) They have a beautiful boardwalk with restaurants to quaint shops todesigner boutiques. In this area, we went to Mozart’s birthplace, which has now beentransformed into a museum with history of the entire Mozart family and some treasuredbelongings of Mozart’s. It was amazing to look at the little one floor apartment that his wholefamily shared when he was little. After the museum, we grabbed a quick lunch (aka pretzels).After walking past Mozart’s statue, his residence and through the mirabell gardens, we met the tour group to get on the bus.
The Sound of Music tour was on a coach style bus and was full of Americans with a couple people from Australia and India. Throughout the tour, our guide shared facts from the movie (including 3 strikes against Christopher Plummer) and the real history of the Von trapp family that lived in Salzburg. First on the tour we saw the fortress of Salzburg and Nonnberg Abbey (which is still open and has six nuns living in it)- the only way to access the abbey is by going up 300+ stairs so the nuns are in great shape. After we went to Leopolds palace on the lake. This is where the backyard of the Von trapp house was filmed, like the scenes when the kids fell in the water (which by the way little Gretl started drowning in that scene). What is really interesting is that the whole fight scene between Maria and captain after that was filmed multiple times because they had to film with the lake background and the background of the yellow Von Trapp house (two completely different locations). In addition, from there you get a clear view of the mountain that the Von trapps climbed over at the end of the movie (this mountain also borders Austria and Germany, not Switzerland, so technically they were going straight into enemy territory.) After that we went to the palace grounds, here you could see the Von Trapp (big and yellow) but you’re unable to go inside because it’s private residence now. In addition, you can see the 16 going on 17 gazebo. Another fact, there were actually three gazebos built and used because they needed more space and an open roof to get the right sound. Continuing on after many many photos, the bus then took us to the lake and mountains district where we saw the redbull headquarters, summer time castles of past royals and beautiful glacier made lakes. The whole bus ride there and to the next location we sang along to music from the soundtrack (was a little bummed because they skipped over my favorite song- if you know you know). From there we went to mondsee which is where the cathedral is that they used for the wedding scene. They never filmed the outside of the cathedral (which is a beautiful bright yellow because they wanted to portray it as being in the abbey) but as soon as you walk into the cathedral you recognize it from the film. This town also had a restaurant called café Braun which had amazing apple strudel. To end the tour we went back to Salzburg (singing more songs on the way) and ending at mirabell gardens which is where a lot of do-re-mi was filmed. My heart was so full by the end of the tour and I was so content. It was everything I wanted and hoped it would be and was honestly considering asking for an application to be a guide. After, Julia and I got a quick bite to eat and then hopped on the bus back to Vienna). Once we got back we went to straight to bed because we had to leave the hostel the next morning by 4am for our flight.
All in all, Austria (and Salzburg especially) exceeded my expectations. Austria made me feel so much at home (despite not really speaking German) and everyone was so nice to us.. I am so happy I decided to do it. Bis wir uns wiedersehen, Auf wiedersehen.