“High on a hill was a lonely goatherd…” sang Julie Andrews, before her melodious voice was drowned by a wild chorus of “Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo!” from 40 giggly adults. Learning how to yodel along with the movie’s soundtrack was one of the amusing highlights of my recent Sound of Music tour in Austria.
Yodelling is a type of Alpine folk singing. And thanks to our tour’s local specialist Natascha Santos Rivera’s singing tutorial, we could sing our hearts out during our coach rides.
Let’s start at the very beginning
Salzburg is one of the destinations on the itinerary of Trafalgar’s 10-day Sound of Music tour, which also includes Innsbruck and Vienna in Austria, and Munich and Oberammergau in Germany.
To many tourists around the world, Salzburg is famous for being the filming location of The Sound of Music movie.
But long before there was The Sound of Music, there was the sound of Mozart.
In 1756, classical music prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, where he lived till he moved to Vienna in 1781. To experience the world of this famous composer, I visited two museums dedicated to him — Mozart’s Birthplace, the home where he lived till he was 17; and Mozart Residence, where he lived from 17 to 25.
Actually you cannot escape from Mozart everywhere you go, for his pictures are everywhere — from signboards and grocery stores to cafés and gift shops — especially on the “Mozart Balls” spherical chocolates.
The hills are still alive
In 1965, The Sound of Music came into the picture.
Based on the true story of an Austrian family, the movie was filmed mainly around Salzburg and became a worldwide success after it won five Oscars.
What is phenomenal is that, after 53 years, global tourists are still flocking to the city to relive their favourite scenes from the movie. Joining them, I found myself skipping around with a song in my mouth.
Of the dozens of filming sites, one of the most famous is the lakeside garden of the von Trapp home.
Located at the historic Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron, this garden is only accessible to hotel guests. Tourists who are not staying there can only view it from the opposite side of the lake.
I felt very privileged to be able to stroll in the garden because Trafalgar’s Sound of Music Tour includes two nights of accommodation in this hotel.
A former family estate commissioned by the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg in 1736, the hotel is currently supported by Trafalgar, which contributes to its upkeep and conservation under its JoinTrafalgar heritage initiative.
Only the garden scenes of the movie were filmed at this historic palace, whose elegant halls now serve as dining rooms and event venues for hotel guests.
Another famous movie location is the glass gazebo where Liesl and Rolf sang Sixteen Going On Seventeen in the film.
Formerly situated at Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron, the gazebo was relocated to Hellbrunn Palace Park so that more tourists could dance around it like 16-year olds.
The Sound of Music fans will remember the marionette (string puppet) show put up by Maria and the kids as they sang The Lonely Goatherd in the film.
This traditional art came alive for me at the 105-year-old Salzburg Marionette Theatre, which stages puppet shows like they are full-scale operas.
After watching its puppet version of The Sound of Music, we went on a guided backstage tour to observe the puppeteers at work.
I was amazed that there were about 500 puppets in this theatre. One figure had to made for each costume, so one production could have 20 to 90 puppets.
A few more of my favourite things
Our tour came with a special “Be My Guest” family dinner in Salzburg. We were hosted by the Klaushofer family on their farm, where they keep bees for honey, bake bread, produce cheese and grow a herb garden.
Our wholesome dinner had such charming table settings and a sumptuous spread — from turkey escalope and roast pork to home-made cheese strudel — that it felt more like dining in a restaurant.
Our tour was also meaningful because of the little pleasant surprises from our Trafalgar travel director Katarzyna Połoczanska-Komar, who took care of us throughout the trip.
She refreshed our memory of The Sound of Music by screening the whole movie in the coach, and offered Mozart Balls to us even before we knew that they were must-buys in Salzburg.
We were pampered on the trip too — our luggage was always seamlessly delivered between our coach and our hotel rooms and we had free time to indulge in personal pursuits such as shopping.
For sure, it was not easy to sing So Long, Farewell at the end of the trip.
■ I flew on Emirates from Singapore to Munich via Dubai. Salzburg is a 90min drive from Munich.
■ I travelled with Trafalgar’s 10-day Sound of Music tour, which covers five cities in Germany and Austria. Visit www.trafalgar.com for details.
■ Readers who book this tour before Feb 10, 2019, can enjoy US$50 (S$68) savings per person on top of a 10 per cent early payment discount. To book, contact your travel agent and quote “SWEET Sound of Music” to enjoy the extra savings.
■ If you want to take creative photos and videos at the filming locations, watch The Sound of Music video beforehand so you and your friends know how to pose accordingly at each spot.
■ Visit www.salzburg.info for The Sound of Music filming locations.
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