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Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Sound of Music


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In the Country of Symphony - AUSTRIA



Sometime in mid-nineties, my young journalist brother Ambar returned from an official trip to Austria. He invited us to a party, where, over sips on Scotch, he shared his wonderful moments amidst the beauty of nature in Salzburg. With a glint,  mesmerized and carried away, I listened. The scenes from the musical classic ‘Sound of Music’ flashed across in pieces. But somewhere the traveler in me felt jealous. The very thought that I never get what I long for kept on recurring at the back of my mind. It is true that we humans do not get everything we long for in our lifetime. But this was amongst very special and dear to my longings.  So while preparing my itinerary for the Europe tour in 2017, I requested my sister and brother in law to join us from Frankfurt, where they stay. We drove down the autobahn, with Arindam at wheel, from Frankfurt to Switzerland and after spending 3 days there we moved into Austria. We were at Salzburg, my ‘dream city’. The historic town of Salzburg was once the capital of the Archbishop of Salzburg (part of the Holy Roman Empire). The city, with picturesque surrounds, boasts of some famous residents like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Christian Doppler of ‘Doppler Effect’ fame, musical family von Trapp on whom ‘Sound of Music’  was filmed. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a musical prodigy, came out with his first composition at the age of 5. Born in 1756, he quickly became competent on keyboard and violin. He performed at Dom Quartier, a baroque architectural complex in the heart of Salzburg. This complex was once the center of the Prince Archbishops’ power. Mozart’s original piano(multitier construction) is located here. Maintained well and intact, this instrument was played by a today’s pianist in a concert. A bewitching moment! So was the orchestra on Mozart and Strauss in Vienna. Accompanied by ballet dancers and opera singers at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, this captivating show was held at the Palace Orangery, where Mozart himself often played. The Palace grandeur, wine available from a bar counter on this occasion conjured a Royal feeling in us. It is said that when the cute little Mozart performed before the Royal gathering at Schonbrunn Palace, the Queen was so captivated that she picked up the child on her lap. Excited, Mozart had planted a kiss on her cheek.

To avail a ‘Sound of Music’ trip while in Salzburg has always been ‘one of my favorite things’. The buses start from a stand opposite Mirabell Platz (Mirabell Palace). Built in 1606, this palace garden serves as a venue for most romantic weddings in Austria. We were lucky as we saw quite a few weddings that day. The song ‘Do Re Mi ‘was filmed at the Palace Gardens. The ‘Sound of Music’ journey was like a tryst with fond memories we nurture throughout our lifetime. Our guide, a remarkable man, sweetly dressed in ‘pied piper’ style attire kept all the bus inmates in a trance with renderings of ‘Sound of Music’ songs. As the bus moved through the picturesque dales and vast lakes on the outskirts of Salzburg, the music resonated through the crystal clear air and appeared to entwine with nature – as if the ambiance was designed and created by nature with ‘Sound of Music ‘in mind. Our first stop was at Leopoldskron Palace- the Trapp family home. A popular boat scene was filmed in the lake over there. Next was the Glass Gazebo in the Hellbrunn Palace compound, where ‘sixteen going on seventeen’ was filmed. It was here that the kissing scene between Maria (Julie Andrews) and Baron von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) was shot. We caught glimpses of Lake Fuschl and Lake Wolfgang while passing through the Lake District Area to reach Mondsee, a tiny Austrian town where St. Michael’s Basilica (also known as Mondsee Cathedral) is located.  The wedding scene of Maria with Baron was shot here. Coincidentally, we were fortunate to see a real wedding in the Cathedral. Outside the Cathedral, on that day, a small country fair was being held. We were lucky to try out some delicious Austrian foods at small food cartwheels set up in the fair. The wedding ceremonies, the food, raindrops, and drizzles at Mondsee were rejuvenating. So rejuvenating that while on our way to Salzburg our guide sang, our driver sang and we all joyously sang in unison our favorite song ‘Raindrops on Roses and whiskers on kittens; bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens; brown paper packages tied up with strings; these are a few of my favorite things’ 








Photo Courtesy: Arundhati Sengupta (Ruby)



Mozart's Birthplace in Salzburg



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Mozart's House




Mozart played on this keyboard

Mirabelle Palace Area, Salzburg. The Sound of Music trip starts from here.


Leopoldskron Palace on the outskirts of Salzburg

Leopoldskron Palace - von Trapp family's home

The Glass Gazebo in Hellbrunn Palace compound

Picturesque Salzburg



Our Sound of Music tour guide





Salzburg's Lake District

Picturesque Salzburg


St. Michael Basilica at Mondsee

A real wedding inside the Chapel



Wedding in Mirabelle Platz Garden





House of Christian Doppler



Outside Dom Quartier





A view of Salzburg city




Tram stop near River Danube in Vienna




Fiddlers at Karlsplatz, Vienna


Vienna




A portrait of child Mozart on the path leading to Schonbrunn Palace




Schonbrunn Palace compound




Schonbrunn Palace Garden


Schonbrunn Palace Garden






Vienna Ring Tram




Schonbrunn Area Vienna


Schonbrunn Palace Concert Hall

Concert at Schonbrunn Palace

Schonbrunn Metro station


Guide to 'Sound of Music' trip at Salzburg & Schonbrunn Palace at Vienna:

AC Coaches for 'Sound of Music' start from the terminal in front of St. Andrew's Church located opposite Mirabellplatz in downtown Salzburg. It is a scenic drive through the rolling countryside of the Austrian Lake District. The drive is up to the pretty little Mondsee town. 

Schonbrunn Palace: We were staying near Karlsplatz and River Danube in Vienna. To visit Schonbrunn Palace, we availed the metro from Karlsplatz station. Karlsplatz is on lines U1 (red), U2 (blue) and U4 (green). All trains on U4 line going towards Hutteldorf stop at Schonbrunn station. Please note that the preceding station is Meidling Hauptstrasse.


                                







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