The Sound of Music at 50: One Fan’s Pilgrimage to Salzburg

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The Sound of Music turns 50 this month and, as a lifelong fan, it’s unsurprisingly bringing out my sentimental side. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to visit Austria, and I fell in love with its breath-taking beauty and fabulous quality of life. I knew, long before I went, that no trip to Austria would be complete without a pilgrimage to Salzburg, the home of The Sound of Music.

My Dad and I were on a tour of the Austrian countryside, visiting the gorgeous Vorarlberg and Tyrol regions – not really anywhere close to Salzburg. I really thought the chance to visit the home of my favourite musical would pass me by. When a day opened up on our itinerary however, I begged my Dad to go to Salzburg so that I could go on the world-famous Sound of Music Tour – and being a very understanding father, he agreed. We set off early next morning and by 9.00am I found myself on a tour bus full of other fans heading into the Salzburg Lakes Region; my Dad, meanwhile, elected to stay in Salzburg and do all the Mozart touristy things instead!

I was in my element – singing along to the songs of the film (tentatively, at first, but in full voice as the day wore on) and snapping hundreds upon hundreds of pictures. Our first stop was at Leopoldskron Palace, the site where they filmed the back of the Von Trapp household and the scene in the boating lake, followed soon after by a stop at Hellbrunn Palace where they have specially reconstructed the ’Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ Gazebo for fans like myself to gush over.

The Salzburg Lake District

From there we headed deeper into the Lake District, and stopped from time to time to take in the simply stunning views. The gorgeous towns of St Gilgen and Mondsee have all the imaginable quaint charm they ought to and so much more; be sure to stop in a shop and pick up some souvenir Edelweiss – the mountain flower is the perfect traditional gift for your most treasured loved ones! Mondsee is home to the impressive medieval Abbey in which Maria and the Captain marry – the church is incredibly photogenic both inside and out. Better yet, there are a number of superb cafes within spitting distance that are just perfect for an Apple Strudel break!

Finally, last but not least, when we returned to Salzburg we took a walk around the endlessly pretty Mirabell Gardens. Right in the centre of the city, this little oasis of calm was the setting for the Do-Re-Mi number in the film, where the children run through the famed tunnel and dance around the Pegasus Fountain. An ideal end to an utterly idyllic tour; the number filming sites that you get to see both in and around the town is excellent, and the guides – who are both knowledgeable and passionate – offer a compelling commentary throughout. It’s funny to think that the locals don’t quite comprehend or understand why The Sound of Music is loved the world over, but it’s all part of the understated charm of a Salzburg city break!

Clockwise from Top Left: Mondsee Abbey, Leopoldskron Palace, The Mirabell Gardens & The Sound of Music Tour Bus

Salzburg itself is well worth visiting too! Pretty, historic, clean and cultured, it’s the perfect choice for a short break in Austria. Our fabulous breaks to Salzburg are available from £275pp for 3 nights in a 4* hotel, and the tour itself is available to add on the end of your booking. With flights from nine UK airports – including Stansted, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Edinburgh – make 2015 the year you finally make the pilgrimage to Salzburg, the home of The Sound of Music!

Are you a fan of The Sound of Music? Planning a trip to Salzburg this year? Let us know in the comments section below!

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