Picture the scene.

A tour bus… packed to capacity with bright-eyed, excited tourists.  Everyone is dressed in warm, winter clothes because it’s a freezing day.  The tour guide is a stocky woman with short, bleached yellow hair and a loud, nasal voice.  Her name is Sue.  She stands at the front of the bus, facing the seated tourists – microphone in hand.

Nick and I are seated three rows from the front.

It’s our honeymoon, in Austria, and we’re about to embark upon a special tour (requested – and let’s be clear here – by ME).

Nick shifts uncomfortably in his seat.  He already has a pained expression etched on his face.  I, on the other hand, am beaming like a happy little moon.

“Everyone ready?” Sue nasals through the mic.

“YESSSS!!!” gleefully shriek all the tourists in unison (myself included).

Nick sinks lower into his seat and shoots me a glance which says:  “I have boarded the bus to hell”.

I ignore him and clap excitedly.

“Well, then!  Let’s GO!!”  shouts Sue to loud cheering and applause.  The bus shifts into gear and slowly exists the parking lot.  Sue pockets her microphone, turns around and fiddles with what appears to be a CD player, mounted on the partitioning that separates us and the driver.  Suddenly, the sound system kicks in to action – and a familiar song bursts forth from the buses’ (many) speakers….

“The hills are alive with the sound of music…..”

Julie Andrews’ voice trills, full-force through the heated cabin… and, as if right on que, sixty-two excited voices chime in with robust glee… “with songs they have sung for a thousand years….”

Some of the women in the bus (myself included) decide to sing the famous “aaah-ah-ah-ah” harmonies which fit neatly with the melody sung by everybody else.  There is only one person on the bus who doesn’t join in the singing:  my husband.  He has folded his arms across his chest and has closed his eyes, feigning sleep (or death).

I’m sure you must have guessed by now – we were in Saltzburg, on the Sound of Music tour!  (I mean – how can you not do the Sound of Music tour if you’re in Saltzburg??)

MY FAVOURITE THINGS

I was raised on musicals.  My sister and I (and this is no lie!) can sing our way through The Sound of Music!  Our party trick is to flawlessly sing “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”… ask us any day, and we’ll happily oblige the curious with our duet!  We can also sing our way through Camelot and My Fair Lady amongst others.  In fact, as Nick likes to say, I have an uncanny ability to retain the lyrics of long, wordy, pointless songs that nobody else sings – or cares about (Christmas carols included).

I don’t know what it is about me and musicals.  Maybe I’m nostalgic about them because Suzanne and I were raised on a diet of musicals from a young age.  If we weren’t watching (hired) musicals on our beta max video machine, we were acting in them.  We were both involved in amateur theatre from a young age and sung everything from Oklahoma to Annie.

Nick – on the other hand – comes from another world.  He was raised in a Greek corner cafe.  While Soo and I were meticulously charting the lyrics to “I have confidence”, Nick was selling cigarettes and slap chips and clocking Pac Man with spare change from the till.  The first time he saw The Sound of Music was when I forced him to watch it (on my special, extended version, collectors edition DVD).  He wasn’t moved.  And I was flabbergasted.  Who could NOT love The Sound of Music?  He wasn’t even impressed by my ability to sing all the verses of “My Favourite Things” (without hesitation)… and to reach the final high-note of Mother Abbess’s “Climb Every Mountain”…

But, in spite of the fact that Nick doesn’t share my love of musicals – it was very Good Husband of him to join me on the Sound of Music tour which, or so said the pamphlet, was:  “A wonderful tour with breathtaking views of the countryside and locations used in the making of the movie”.

CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN

Back in the tour bus… we had moved on to “The Lonely Goatherd”.  Sixty-two people yodelling loudly in falsetto (including me!).  Nick was starting to look green.

“High on a hill was a lonely goatherd (lots of yodelling goes here)…. Loud was the voice of the lonely goatherd (more yodelling here)… Folks in that town that was quite remote heard (and more yodelling)… Lusty and clear from the goatherd’s throat heard…. (and yes, more yodelling!)”

Just as it looked as though Nick was about to throw himself from the bus… we pulled in to our first stop; Schloss Leopoldskron (which is actually a palace) and the location for the front of the Captain’s “house”… you know, with the big lake in front?  And the big porch where they sipped pink lemonade and where Maria and the Captain shared their first kiss?

Here’s a picture:

The white in front is actually the frozen lake…

Interestingly, they used two separate locations for the Captain’s house.  The location for the front of the house (where Maria knocks on the door for the first time) is at a completely different venue (much smaller – and with no lake!).  All the interior shots were filmed in a studio in Hollywood.

Here’s a few more pics…

St Gilgen is a gorgeous little town where the opening scenes of the movie were filmed. Interestingly, Mozart’s mother and sister lived there… back in the day…
In the distance, you can see me skipping down this tree-lined street where Maria originally sang “I have confidence”…
Nick and I in front of the famous pavilion where they filmed Sixteen going on Seventeen. Unfortunately, it was locked. Sue told us that it was locked because a few months prior, an 84 year old lady had broken her hip whilst attempting to jump from bench to bench (like in the movie)…
This is St. Michael’s Church in a town called Mondsee. It’s the location (right at the end of the movie) where Maria and Captain Von Trapp get married.
And that’s me… walking down the aisle at St. Michael’s Church (like Maria)…
We ended off the tour with hot chocolate and apple strudel at Cafe Braun – which overlooked St. Michael’s Church…

Aptly, the very last bus sing-along-song was “So Long, Farewell”.

As we disembarked the bus, Sue handed each of us a packet of Edelweiss seeds.  I still have them.

I’ve told Nick that we need to return to Salzburg for our Tenth Wedding Anniversary and re-trace our steps.  I wonder if I could persuade him to do the tour again?  If only for nostalgia’s sake?