Staying in Salzburg was a bit of an after thought. But we were going to be in the area and given our love of The Sound of Music we decided to stay a couple of nights. I am well aware that Salzburg is famous for other musical highlights of some note, but I’m afraid, given time restrictions, Mozart was just going to have to play second fiddle to Maria, the Captain and the rest of the Von Trapp Family singers.
We arrived in Salzburg about 11:30, walked to the apartment (Lucy once again attracting flirtatious men by dropping her water bottle for them to pick up along the way) and experienced a slight hitch when Ms Hanasovic was not there to let us into our apartment. A few quick phone calls to the Salzburg easyaprtments.com office had me frightened for the longevity of Ms Hanasovic’s position with that company. ‘I will have words with her!’ promised a very apologetic Walter. Ms Hasanovic did arrive, not nearly as apologetic as I had anticipated, perhaps already having incurred the wrath of Walter…but we were in. A comfy apartment within walking distance of anywhere you want to be in Salzburg at half the price of a hotel room.
Setting off in search of nothing in particular, we headed to the old town which was packed with holiday makers. Lucy, who was in Salzburg in July last year, says it was busier now than it was then. Indeed there was lots more English to be heard here than anywhere else we’ve been thus far. Mozart and Maria encourage pilgrims from all over the English speaking world! Blessed by the weather, yet again, we dawdled through the old town, resisting the temptation to buy lederhosen boxer shorts at 30 € a pair, succumbing to the temptation offered by moose shaped cookie cutters.
After replenishing our stocks with open sandwiches and tea, we headed off for the abbey where Maria was a noviciate. Lucy’s navigation was a little faulty; instead of the easy walk up to the convent she promised, we took off on the hike to the fort atop the hill. Already overdressed for the weather (it was sunny and warm) I was literally bathed in sweat when we got to the top of the hill, Leigh had experienced two heart attacks, while Lucy pranced up fresh as a daisy, contemplating whether she might go for a run the following morning. Attempting to catch our breath, we reminded her that there was little point trying to kill us off at the moment since all we would be leaving her is debt. No matter – it was an effort worth flirting with death for. Sunset (4:22 – the days are getting longer!) at the fort across a clear, alpine sky was something we will never see at home. I heard another woman ask her companion, ‘I wonder if it is actually possible to get tired of this?’
I wondered the same; are we genetically programmed to feel awe in the face of this sort of natural beauty, as a way of ensuring its protection? Recent decisions involving our own Great Barrier Reef give me reason to doubt. Does it have to be jaw-dropping, above sea level, in your face, environmental ‘infrastructure’ before it’s worth protecting? I don’t know – it makes me feel happy to know that people have been seeing a version of the view atop that hill in Salzburg that I saw for hundreds of years. It makes me sad to think that people in less than ten years may not see the ‘views’ of the Great Barrier Reef I’ve been lucky to see…
Pleasantly exhausted after all that walking and talking and thinking and looking, we winded our way back down the hill, happy that Lucy’s attempts to kill us had failed, and ravenous. We ate Japanese noodles at the old people’s dinner time of 6:30 pm, and were safely tucked away in bed well before Melbourne was preparing to swelter through a 36 degree day. A big day was ahead of us – we had to be fully refreshed forThe Sound of Music tour!
None of us slept particularly well that night. Perhaps it was anticipation of the following day, although I think it was more likely because, in an effort to get the washing dry, Leigh had turned the heating up so high that the apartment was the temperature of a ski lodge drying room. My throat was hoarse: how was I going to manage the high notes during the tour singalong? This, and other first world problems, concerned me as I woke to yet another glorious, crisp, cool day of sunshine.
Now, I know that there are crazy people out there who do not appreciate the many splendours of The Sound of Music. I feel sorry for you, but I respect your right not to do so. But even if you are one of those people, if ever you come to Salzburg, you should do the tour, all the same. Four hours of being driven around Salzburg and the surrounding lakes is something everyone would enjoy.
The commentary from our effervescent tour guide, Peter, was an added bonus. Corny, camp, hilariously over-the-top (complete with singalong) Peter regaled us with bad jokes, amusing gossip and handy non-Sound-of-Music related tourist tips (‘go the the Steinterrace for a pre-dinner drinks, you won’t regret it’ – we did and we didn’t!).
Peter compared the fact of the Von Trapp family story with the Hollywood fantasy, and told us how the Hollywood movie lasted only three weeks in Austrian theatres. ‘They didn’t like how far it was from the truth.’ Apparently a lot of movie nuts didn’t like it either! ‘You’ve ruined my life!’ one woman told him. He was very sorry if that was the case, he said, but it was more likely the fact that she had watched the movie two times a day for ten years which was at the heart of her problems.
It’s not a documentary, it’s an interpretation, so who cares? If a Hollywood interpretation brought me to Salzburg, then I’m happy for it to have done so.