Salzburg may be the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. Walking through the streets makes you feel like you’ve stepped into another time. It’s peaceful there, and quiet. Every corner you turn brings with it another picturesque view of stone buildings amidst green valleys, snow-capped mountains peeking behind it all. It’s Mozart’s birthplace, and the music culture still thrives today. And speaking of music, it’s the setting to one of the most famous movies of all time: The Sound of Music.
The other American girl with me in Austria, Lauren, took the short trip to Salzburg with me — about a 2 hour 45 minute train ride from Vienna. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. We wandered around Old Town after we arrived, gawking at all of the beautiful sights, and ate an amazing meal at a cafe overlooking the water.
The next day, we went on The Sound of Music tour, which took us through some of the places where the movie was shot and told us a little bit of history about the movie & about the city itself. We saw Mirabell Gardens, the beautifully landscaped palace grounds where part of the ‘Do-Re-Me’ song was filmed, and the gazebo where the ’16 going on 17′ song was filmed. We went to the house used as the Von Trapps’ home in the movie, which was seriously beautiful. We passed by Hellbrunn Palace and saw the Unteres mountains, where the opening scene of the movie was filmed along with the closing scene, where the family is escaping to Switzerland. Turns out in real life, the Unteres actually leads to Germany, not Switzerland. Looks like they were going the wrong way. Oops!
I hate to burst the bubble of any die-hard Sound of Music fans who may be reading this, but it turns out the movie took quite a bit of liberty with the Von Trapps’ story. So much so, that Maria Von Trapp threatened to sue the production company until they finally paid her off. Maria was in a convent, they had a family band, and their winning the Salzburg Music Festival did contribute to their ease of escaping Austria in the early stages of WWII, but that’s about as far as the truth goes. The family actually left Austria on a train, saying goodbye to family & friends, and eventually moved to America. But carrying their instruments over a mountain makes for a better movie, no?
My favorite part of the Salzburg trip and the reason I was so happy to have taken the tour was when we ventured outside of the city limits to the Salzburg Lake District. Our purpose was to see the church that Maria & Captain Von Trapp were married in, but we stopped in the region where some of the panoramic shots of Austria were done in the opening scenes of the movie. Wow. The water was so clear, almost turquoise in color with shades of deep blue and green. Jaw-dropping mountain ranges surrounded the lakes, with the greenest grass leading all the way up until the green turned to a snowy white. We found a pier and sat for awhile, taking it all in. I could have stayed there forever.
This trip made me realize, once again, just how lucky I am to have the opportunity to live in this beautiful country. Every day I am surrounded by history, by loveliness both in this land and in the people within it. This has been my life for nearly two months now, a life I never would have dreamed up. I pray I never stop noticing.