The Hills Are Alive

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A few weeks ago we had a match in Innsbruck (see my post on my first visit to Innsbruck here) against my friend Ellie Blankenship. But instead of heading back with my team that night (it’s a 5 hour cross-Austria trip) I stayed over with Ellie so I could take a detour on my own the next day. Right smack between Innsbruck and Vienna is SALZBURG! And for those of you who don’t know, Salzburg is the city where The Sound of Music was partially filmed and where the actual Von Trapp family is from! If you know me and my family, especially mom, we LOVE the Sound of Music. I actually have some pretty vivid memories of watching those 2 VHS tapes when I was little.

Salzburg is also famous for being the town where Mozart was born and lived for much of his life. As cool as that is, I was much  more interested in the Sound of Music sights, so that is how I planned my day.

First stop was at Mirabell Palace and Gardens!

Lots of little snippets from the movie were shot here. Most famously, in the back there, are the steps where Maria and the Von Trapp children wrapped up Do-A-Dear. There are also shots of them from around this fountain. I was here end of March and it was already bursting with color. A couple other shots you may remember from the movie are when the kids run through this terrace or around some of these other bits of Mirabell.

Salzburg is an absolutely darling city. It took about a 10 minute walk for me to get to Mirabell Palace from the train station and then another 5 minutes to run into the Danube River. I got so lucky with an absolutely gorgeous day.

So what is the first thing I find when I cross the bridge? Why Mozart’s birth house. Did I snap a pic? Of course. Did I linger? Nope. More important sites to see and songs to sing 😉

I decided to just wander through the Old Town and see what I ran into. First up was a beautiful ‘Dom’ Church. Followed by the entrance to the Rock Riding School. The amphitheater at the school was where Captain Von Trapp sang Edelweiss while the family’s escape was being orchestrated!

As I continued walking, I hit a pretty busy shopping street. The street is known for the old fashioned signs each business has hanging over the sidewalks. Unfortunately it was a Sunday so everything was closed of course! But I stopped at a lovely cafe to have a snack and a chai tea latte ❤

Next, I made my way to Mozartplatz and Residenzplaz. Both are basically open squares. A statue of Mozart was appropriately displayed in Mozartplatz, but Residenzplaz holds another fountain from SOM. During the song “I Have Confidence” Maria is on her way from the Abbey to the Von Trapp house, she is by a fountain and flicks some water at it. Well hereee it is! I just love that song, and was singing along in my head the entire time!

I hit Kapitelplatz Square that had some interesting structures too. First off, there is a large piece of art- a man standing on top of a huge golden globe. I have no clue of the significance or any background info, but it looked cool! Also in that area is a fountain called Kapitelschwamme. It’s a baroque style horse well that resembles the Trevi fountain in Rome! (which I saw a few weeks prior)

See that structure above the fountain/well though? Fortress looking thing? Well that was my next endeavor…

Of course the gondola lift to the fortress closed just minutes before I got to it. Good thing I’ve got 2 strong legs and was willing to get an extra workout in for the day.

Saying that this walk was an ‘uphill battle’ is NO LIE. It actually wasn’t a ‘long’ walk at all, there is just a severe incline the entire way. Needless to say I was sweating very quickly. But getting up to Festung Hohensalzburg was worth the work.

The views were breathtaking! So the Festung Hohensalzburg is a fortress meant for intimidation. Seriously, it’s big and strong and overlooks the city, but was never actually used to protect the city at all. It was neat to walk around and check out all the nooks and crannies, but the views absolutely stole the show.

Now what goes up, must come down… so I took my sweet ol’ time heading down the steep gravel and cobblestone path. I took a little detour halfway down to check out Nonnberg Abbey. Most of the Abbey scenes from SOM were filmed in Hollywood, but there are a few shots from the real Abbey as well. It is very significant for the actual Von Trapp family as well. The real Maria and Captain did in fact get married here!

The last point of interest I was determined to find: The Gazebo at Hellbrunn Palace. The tricky part here was finding a bus to take me to the right place, since it is a 10-15 minute drive away from town. Had a little hiccup going a few stops to far, but I rerouted and found it!

Hellbrunn Palace is a beautiful area with a small castle, gardens, and ponds. All of the tourist activities had shut down for the day but I was still able to walk around the grounds and take it all in.

Like I said, the Gazebo was priority #1 and I found it pretty quickly. You might remember it from Liesel singing “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” or Maria and the Captain singing “Something Good.” When someone says ‘gazebo’ I think Sound of Music.

But now I have some bad news- the Gazebo isn’t the original, and it wasn’t even filmed at Hellbrunn! What? I know. I was disappointed too. I guess the actual Gazebo is further away at Leopoldskron Castle. They had moved the gazebo to Hellbrunn for tourists but then it was vandalized, so now there is a replica gazebo in its place. Not quite the real deal, but the area it was in looks just as magical and romantic as it in the movie, so I’ll take it!

That wraps up my whirlwind afternoon in Salzburg. I took the bus back (without any issues this time :] ) and grabbed the 8:00 train back to Vienna. It was so fun to explore on my own and sing and skip my way through a lovely little city!

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