Growing up before the days of Cable TV and Cartoon Network meant that your handful of favourite movie video cassettes would take turns being played every day. My favourite among favourites when I was growing up was The Sound of Music. Hence it will not be an exaggeration if I say I have easily watched The Sound of Music more than a 500 times. The charming governess Maria, the aloof and impossibly handsome Captain, the endearing Von Trapp children, and the evergreen music never failed to win my heart over time and time again. No doubt then, when I was planning my Europe trip last year, Salzburg topped my list.
From the moment I stepped into Salzburg, I was in love with the city. Was it possible that in today’s world, where global boundaries seem to be disappearing, and every city becoming cosmopolitan, there still existed such a quaint, scenic city, untouched by pollution and over-population? It was! And I was right in the midst of it. Streets were sprawling wide, with the rare exception of a luxury car zipping by, and a handful of people walking purposefully, knowing exactly where they wanted to go. I was an anomaly here, following the streets and hoping they led me to the very places Maria and her wards had danced through. I looked around, breathing in the crisp, cold air, and with it a sense of total contentment. I realised that at every angle, the city is set by the backdrop of the majestic snow-capped Alps. This is the moment I felt like I’ve stepped right into a picture postcard.
It felt right to begin my exploration of this charming city at Mirabell Gardens. The Garden was spectacular, with manicured lawns, colourful tulips and side walls coloured lavender with lovely Wisteria flowers, the creeper-covered tunnel which happens to be featured in the Do-Re-Mi song, and as an icing on the cake – groups of musicians, young and old, playing perfectly orchestrated music. The music needless to say was beyond beautiful, it was haunting and enchanting, and made time stand still, made you travel back to the era of Mozart to be precise.
Salzburg never lets you forget that you are in the birthplace of Wolfgang Mozart. From the haunting music floating around the city to the 60 cent chocolates with Mozart’s picture on it, everything in Salzburg dances to the tune of Mozart.
After spending a few hours at the Mirabell Garden, and soaking in the local atmosphere, and clicking the mandatory touristy pictures, the next logical stop was the House of Mozart, right across the road, when you exit Mirabell Garden. The house is now turned into a museum, with a little café as you enter. I stopped by to try out the famous Venetian black coffee. Although slightly on the bitter side, it definitely grows on you, and helped very much to refresh and re-energise me to continue my walk past the River Salzach that runs through the city, and across on to the other side which took me right to Getreidgasse, the shopping centre at the old town.
River Salzach was a sight to behold, glimmering like a bed of emeralds, clear and green. It was hard to look away, and when I finally did, I was at the entrance to the city’s main shopping street – Getreidgasse. The street was lined with every big name in the modern era – from Louis Vuitton to Zara, with charming old-world signboards hanging above each store. It was a window shopper’s delight to be walking through that shopping street.
Lunch was at a hot dog cart, enroute to the Residentz Platz and the Pegasus fountain where Julie Andrews so splendidly sang “I have confidence in me” many decades ago. Next up was a funicular ride to the Hohensalzburg Castle and Fortress. The Fortress had the most spectacular view of the city. I had my first unforgettable taste of the famous Sacher Torte at the café attached to the Fortress. Nothing like rich decadent chocolate cake tinged with a fruity flavour to rejuvenate a tired traveller!
I wasn’t ready to call it a day just yet! A walk through some curving, uphill roads led me to an Abbey, and the same gates at which the Von Trapp children cried for Maria to come back to them. The Abbey was at a place higher than the rest of Salzburg which meant a skyline view of the city and colder and crisper air. It was dusk by then, and while I definitely enjoyed the view of the city from above, I was not dressed warm enough to spend as much time there as I would have loved to.
I was thrilled to have retraced the steps, and relived the places of my childhood favourite movie. I walked slowly back to my hostel, and treated myself to a wholly comforting meal – Burner Wurstel – Sausages filled with cheese and covered with bacon. Definitely droolworthy!
The next day looked promising with a trip planned to Lake Konigsee. I was content and happy, The Sound of Music had firmly etched itself a permanent place in my heart. This was as close as it would get to being able to be a part of the classic. I went to sleep humming to myself –
“The hills are alive,
With the sound of music
With songs they have sung
For a thousand years…”