Thursday, February 28, 2013

...With The Sound Of Music - Austria

On to Salzburg! Salzburg means "Salt Fortress". The city of Salzburg sits at the northern boundary of the Alps. Salzburg's skyline is dominated by the Festung Hohensalzburg, or literally the High Salzburg Fortress, with spires rising in the foreground and green snow capped alpine mountains as the backdrop.

The Festung Hohensalzburg is a castle that began in 1077 with just a small tower and square around it. When Salzburg was under control of the Holy Roman Empire the Archbishops expanded the castle. It was kind of like the cutting of a tree. There were rings and courtyards, the newest being on the outside while the oldest structures were hidden deep inside. We parked several kilometers away and got a good workout climbing up this hill - "Climb Ev'ry Mountain. Search high and low..."  And so on.

Once we reached the top we were rewarded with a sweeping 360 degree view that showcased the mountains behind the castle and the rolling hills and Salzach River in front.

These are some of the hills that Maria claimed were "alive". 

Salzburg Altstadt (Old Town).

The Festung Hohensalzburg was interesting. We went on the tour and pondered what it would have been like to have been a prisoner at the fortress/castle. It was used as recently as World War I to hold Italians and Nazis. Of course, the Nazis were held here before they came to power in Germany and before the start of the Anschluß which was the annexation of Austria into the Third Reich. Maybe they should have just kept those Nazis locked up in here. Could have saved everyone a whole lot of trouble.

There is no escape. 

Luckily for us there has been a funicular railway installed that takes you up and down the large glacial hill that the fortress sits on. Much easier on the knees.

As you walk around Salzburg you can't turn around without bumping into something that says "Sound Of Music This!" or "Mozart That!"

My children as the Von Trapp family marionettes.

Salzburg was still decorated for Christmas and quite cold. But we managed to find comfort in giant Bavarian-style pretzels sold on the streets.

Everywhere you look you see these boxes of pistachio flavored chocolates called Mozartkugel

Poor Mozart. He was a musical prodigy and now they use his likeness to sell green chocolate.

My two oldest children have played the violin for years so they had quite a bit of interest in seeing Mozarts Geburtshaus or Mozart's birth house/place.

I wonder if Mozart's parents got the idea for his name from what it said on the front of their house. Hmm...

Inside his house we saw the room where he was born (1756), where he slept, where he grew up, and most importantly, where he played the violin. Mozart lived in Salzburg and was a court musician. He grew restless and at the age of 25 he travelled to Vienna where he achieved fame, but no financial security. He died a mysterious death in 1791 at the age only 35. He was survived by his wife and two children. During his life he composed over 600 musical works. 

The street behind the Mozart house was built right into the rock hill that juts out in the middle of the city. 

These buildings on this whole street were built in 1408. That is 84 years before Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. And this part isn't even the Altstadt. This is where they built because they had run out of room. This is the extension of the city. They sure knew how to build things that last.

After the Mozart stuff, we had to do The Sound Of Music stuff.

The Sound Of Music is a Broadway production that was adapted to a 1965 film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Wayward nun Maria becomes a governess for a ornery military man and his seven children. And through the power of song she convinces the children and the father, in that order, that she is wonderful and her carefree attitude about life is great. The Nazis then show up in town (should have kept them locked up) and things change. The father doesn't want to work for the Nazis so the family escapes and hikes over the Alps into Switzerland. I've seen those mountains and I really can't see anyone hiking over them in nothing but lederhosen. Of course, things might be different if you are being chased by Nazis. I heard from first hand accounts that they weren't very nice.

There are many tours throughout the city that you can take where you ride a bus all around Salzburg with the soundtrack to the movie blaring out speakers. We did a do-it-yourself tour.

Here I am kissing Matt at the gazebo where Liesl kisses traitorous Rolf. What kind of a name is Rolf anyway? Sounds like someone throwing up. "I'm Rolfing."

The gazebo used to be located on the grounds of Leopoldskron, a palace that was used for the shot for the imposing Von Trapp home in the movie. The gazebo was moved to the the Schloss Hellbrunn because so many trespassers came to see it. The grounds where the gazebo is now located are quite beautiful.

Next we were off to the Mirabell gardens.

Schloss Mirabell is a palace in downtown Salzburg where in the movie the children dance around the Pegasus fountain and up and down stairs.

Because it was winter, they had the steps that they use in the movie chained off. So all we could do was stand by them and sing, "Do, a deer, a female deer. Ra, a drop of golden sunnnn!"

Mirabell Gardens. Made me wish I had an absent mother and authoritative father and a governess who had a penchant for making pinafores out of green curtains, because nobody can belt from their lungs in public "So, a needle pulling thread! La, a note to follow so! Te, a drink with jam and bread!" like I can. A point proven while walking around these paths. My kids got really tired of it.

"That will bring us back to Do!"

Andre is saying here, "Mom, if you sing that one more time I'm going to bring this stone dog back to life and ride him out of here."

I had one stop left and that was the Silent Night Church. The Christmas carol Silent Night or Stille Nacht in German was composed in 1816 in the village of Oberndorf. A flood destroyed the original church in the early 1900's, but a memorial chapel, the Stille Nacht Gednächtniskapelle was built in it's place.

We sang a little a capella Silent Night in the chapel. 

We had had a great time in and around Salzburg. We had walked miles and had been cold and had had great food and seen beautiful things. It was time to go home.

Auf Wiedersehen, Salzburg (I wonder if that's what the Nazis said when they let them out).


  1. This was funny. I love your humor! Aufwidersehen Nazis! LOL!

  2. How many sound of music tours are there? This is nicole. Email me...

    1. There are multiple tours through out Salzburg. Most of them have English websites. Look up "Sound of Music tour"


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