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The Hills Are Alive

October 11, 2007

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The original plan was to do the “Sound of Music” bicycle tour with “Maria” all around Salzburg which we had heard was really fun. Mozart is a bike fanatic at the moment and Salzburg is a great place to bike, but the weather was not cooperating, so we went to plan B or rather plan C.

I had read about Bob's tours which are done in a van with just eight or ten people, so that was my second choice as I hate big tours on buses. The hotel preferred the original tour on the bus and I had read that they do lots of singing on the bus from the sound track which would be fun for Mozart who knows most of the words, so I succumbed against my better judgement.

Once I got on the cramped, crowded bus, I knew we had made an error and I was tempted to get right off, but we made the most of it. Our tour guide was English, but everyone else on the bus was American or Japanese. Nobody sang but Mozart and I, so that made her even say it was boring, but at least we got a ride out to a part of the countryside that we otherwise would not have seen and learned more about the movie than one would ever want to know.

A few tidbits were interesting like the fact that the little girl who played the youngest, Gretel, could not swim and almost drowned in the boat flip scene so was traumatized for life. Yikes, what they will do for a film sometimes, poor thing.

There were a few good moments, since we made sure to have some fun because we had already paid and were committed. In front of the famous gazebo where “Sixteen going on Seventeen” was filmed, Mozart got her “first kiss” from her daddy which made her giggle shyly because the whole bus load of adults were watching. Yes, here again, she was the only child, perhaps because it was fall. She loves the song “I have Confidence” so she had fun off  by ourselves, doing her best Julie Andrews imitation, singing it in the very spot it was filmed.

I was glad to get to see pretty St. Gilgen and some of the lovely nearby Salzkammergut region. Unfortunately, my camera could not pick up how pretty it looked to us even in the drizzle and intermittent rain. We stopped in a cute town and had hot chocolate and apple strudel in a small cafe and then wandered about.

Our favorite part was at the end where we got to explore the grounds of the baroque Mirabell Palace (which we did not need the tour for). Of course we might not have known which garden gnome was used in the movie. We met a nice couple from Michigan who were on the bus and wanted to take a picture of Mozart. We are often amazed at how many people want to take a picture of Mozart on our tour, although she is a fun model. It made sense for these people, because we had a nice connection, but some of the people who ask, never say a word to us. Sometimes they just want a picture of them hugging her. Funny.

We learned that seventy percent of the tourist that come to Salzburg come because of “The Sound of Music”, but most of the people who live here have never seen the movie. They do milk this movie connection for all it is worth along with Mozart, but how can you blame them? They even had the cast in wax in the Mozart wax museum.

I think we would have loved the bike riding tour much more in the sunshine, but now at least we can say we took the original “Sound of Music” tour and we know what that experience is like. There were good moments, but overall it was a “thumbsdown” from the entire SoulTravelers3 gang. We did not have too much time to concern ourselves about it though, as we were off to the next thing.

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