A Tourist in Salzburg
I’m falling behind, I’m actually in Munich, but you’re going to hear about the schmaltzy day we had in Salzburg. We finished the day classy with the Moose’s last concert in the Mozarthaus in St Gilgen, but before that…
It’s hard to resist the stalls every few metres selling glüwein, so that afternoon we didn’t. We then hailed a two pony chariot for a half hour circuit around the altstadt of Salzburg.
The driver was from Texas, but he had either not spoken English for a really long time or he was raised by coyotes, because he was very hard to understand. “That be the man monastery”, he said, waving up the hill. “And that be the woman monastery”, indicating the Nonnberg, famous for its starring role in The Sound of Music.
The Sound of Music was the biggest thing to hit Salzburg since Mozart, it’s responsible for a large slab of its economy. It would have been remiss of us not to go on a Sound of Music tour then, remiss. I did actually manage to watch the movie for the very first time a couple of weeks before we left, so I was an expert.
Our tour guide sounded a lot like Michael Douglas as Liberace in Behind the Candelabra (which I watched bits of on the plane in between dozing) only prerecorded. I guess he’d probably run the tour a gajillion times, and it sounded like it. I can do you an imitation when I get back if you like.
It would have been worth it just for the scenery. Look, here’s a swan frozen in the ice. I’m sure it could have left any time it wanted to.
The gazebo had to be moved from the grounds because of all the tourists wanting to dance around it in the middle of the night, but it’s still on display in the grounds of Hellbrunn Palace. It was permanently locked after an eighty year old tourist broke her hip trying to dance on the seats inside. There’s always someone who’ll ruin it for everyone.
The bus then headed for the countryside, with bonus group singalongs! through some breathtaking scenery to Mondsee where the von Trapp wedding was filmed. This place has it all, snow capped mountains, lakes, cute houses, polite drivers, and extraordinarily ornate churches.
If this had been the first I’d seen I’d have been a little overwhelmed, but I now realise that’s just how they make churches around here. I think they chose this one just because it didn’t have a road going right past the entrance.
The tour guide also gave us a bit of background to the real Von Trapps, for which he apologised, revealing that he’d had hate mail for doing it in the past. How dare there be a real story! The Nonnberg really was where Maria had been a novitiate when she was hired to look after the Von Trapp kids and you can’t go in the today because it’s still a working abbey. But they really didn’t live where the movie was filmed and they didn’t escape the Nazis by climbing over the Untersberg because if you did that you’d actually be going to Germany. And Maria eventually died in her eighties of eating too much cheese, getting gangrene in her stomach and refusing to go to the doctor. There’s a lesson there for all of us.
The tour was totally worth it for many reasons. They encouraged you to buy a beer at ten in the morning for the scenic bus ride. You got to drive past the world headquarters of Red Bull. You got stories of how weird American tourists can really be (who has time to watch the Sound of Music TWICE a day every day?). There was a bit of Mozarty stuff thrown in for free. The scenery. And I’ll have a tour guide impression to do at parties, something for you to look forward to.