“The Hills are Alive…”

…with the sound of tourists being ripped off in droves! Including us.

Ah Salzburg. A truly beautiful, charming, inspired city. Crowned by a fortress built in the early 1000’s, and decorated with stunning homes, it’s a gem. Most local tourists come here to walk the streets Mozart walked, but internationals like our good selves want to see the gardens, mansion and convent featured in “The Sound of Music”, a film loved the world over. Except in Austria, where nobody has seen it, and those that have were left unimpressed. Tough crowd!

A few different companies however have cottoned on to the fact that Americans, Aussies, Brits, and loads of other cash-paying characters love the flick, and want to know more about it, and to walk in the same space that the debonair Captain Von Trapp, (Christopher Plumber…hawwwwt) once walked. I booked tickets with “Panorama” over the net months back. Stupid me. Other companies here offered buy-it-now trips for about $50 per family less. At least we got to sit on the tackiest painted bus, with Maria on the back laughing with her guitar case all the way to the closest schnitzel haus.

I was quickly reminded what I despise about organised bus travel. I’ve only done it once before, a day trip to some of the sights further out of Bangkok when I was travelling solo, and even then I hated it! I feel like the fat “people of the future” in Disney’s Wall-E, being shuttled along and spoon fed information and sites I could have researched and discovered myself. Our guide was informative enough, in a “I’ve read this and re-read it 1000’s of times” kind of way, but his delivery was a tad uninspired.

The group consisted of a mix of Americans, British, Japanese and a smattering of Aussies, including a couple from Terrigal…neighbours! I only found out where they were from when I attempted to help the husband who was struggling at an Italian food stall on one of our stops. “If you need some help, I can speak Italian”. “What are ya, from Melbourne or sunnink?” And so the conversation continued.

I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe to see the Mirabell Gardens the kids danced in (we did that later on our own). Maybe to visit the convent (nope, nuns still do their nunning there). Or how about visiting the Von Trapp family mansion? Well…the inside shots were all done on a sound stage in Hollywood. DOH!!!!

So, we saw, from a I-wish-I-brought-my-binoculars-distance the lake Maria and the kids fell into. We saw the glasshouse featured in “16 Going on 17”, BUT it had been moved to another location, and we weren’t allowed inside after an old duck a few years ago decided to attempt the seat-jumps and smashed through the glass. We went to some random, but pretty location that was a 7 second filler during the intro, and then to the church where in the film Maria and the Captain got married. It was here we were also encouraged to try the guide’s best mate’s strudel (we didn’t, in protest), and to do some souvenir shopping from his other mate’s store.

And that was it. It was a pleasant enough few hours, but to be honest, we learnt more about the film from the short doco they played on the trip back to town narrated by “Liesel” from the movie. The bonus disc from the Sound of Music DVD. Exclusive stuff! And if it hadn’t have cost us $180, I wouldn’t be quite so cheesed off.

I did have one teary moment of reflection. Maybe it was the 11am champers on the bus, or the crackly soundtrack being played as we sped through the Austrian hilltops, but I felt that pang of nostalgia for my childhood watching that great film. I was even the “Sew” in my Kinder ballet recital of “Do Re Mi”. Still love the movie, and Salzburg is a beautiful city. But if you have a set of legs, do the sites yourself.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Amanda duigan says:

    This made me laugh. One of nick and my biggest dilemmas with traveling is that he refuses to do nothing remotely touristy!! It usually results in me pining over a petite train timetable or some such and him running in the opposite direction… So I was quite envious when I read you were doing the SOM tour -knowing it would be a pleasure denied me as long as I had nick as a traveling companion…..
    So I was stunned when -after traisping round in beautiful but stinking hot Bordeaux the other day with no idea what we were actually looking at -nick suggested we hop on a double Decker bus. YES. finally! My weeks of sulking had paid off!
    However- after 20 mins of queuing, on the verge of handing over my 60 euro I realized I could no longer abide (let alone pay for the company of) the redneck, loud, foul mouthed American behind me boring anyone who would listen with tales of similar bus trips in other European destinations. I pulled the pin and we went to sit in a cafe looking at the view sipping rose and watching the bus loads of slack jawed tourists get their spoonfed interp, their brochure for the scrapbook and their photo (probably of the bus!).
    it is a fine line but our compromise is to grab a self guided walking tour map and iPod or listen to a podcast in the car on the way.
    Paris next week anyway and I think even I can see the indignity of a petite train down the champs elyse! anyway….
    So long, farewell
    Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight
    The sun has gone
    To bed and so must I…..
    Happy travels!

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