Whether you’re 17 or going on 80...
HERE’S the bench that an 82-year-old lady slipped on while dancing to Sixteen Going On Seventeen and then fell through a pane of glass,” says Peter the tour guide, shaking his head at a newly restored and immaculate gazebo in Hellbrun Palace on the outskirts of Salzburg.
“She was such a big Sound Of Music fan she couldn’t resist dancing in the gazebo.
“She’s fine now though, just a few scratches,” he adds, as our horrified reflections beam back out at us from the restored window pane.
Much as I’d rather not slip on the white bench which so quickly dashed the octogenarian’s waltz, the urge to leap about and prance along is admittedly strong.
Because, like that lady, I too am a huge fan of The Sound Of Music and the sight of the gazebo where Liesl and her telegram delivery boyfriend Rolfe frolicked, flirted and snogged, fills my limbs with an urge to sing.
Unlike Julie Andrews, who plays nun-turnedgoverness-turned-captain’s wife in the epic film based on a true story, I have not been blessed with a strudel-sweet singing voice, so I decide to keep my Von Trapp shut.
You can’t move for Sound Of Music reminders in Salzburg. Sure, there are references to Mozart (that other tourist pull), everywhere, but with the film’s 50th anniversary looming, Wolfgang will have to wait.
Shift to the city centre, and you’ll see groups jumping up and down the steps of the Mirabell Palace And Gardens, where Maria led her young charges Do Re Mi-ing as they made their way to the fountain.
Head to Residenzplatz and trill I Have Confidence, the lively pep talk Maria sings to herself as she moves from the nunnery.
Indeed, 50 years on from the film’s release, it is still the first thing many of us picture when thinking of Salzburg.
While the film’s global success is secured with an estimated one billion people having seen it, the home crowd are less enamoured.
“It’s never shown here,” shrugs Peter. “It was only when I moved to America that I first saw the film,” concurs another tour guide over a stodge-laden lunch of schnitzel (without noodles).
But for the rest of the world, The Sound Of Music is Salzburg.
Serving as a love letter to the city, the movie flaunts Salzburg’s picture-postcard alpine views, pretty churches and market stalls with rosy-cheeked vendors.
For me, an embarrassingly big fan of the film, seeing a seemingly unchanged city is a delight to behold.
I’m not the only one who has fallen under the musical – and indeed the city’s – spell.
Admittedly, some of the group aren’t bores like me. “You ARE a big fan you?” withers one sceptic who has co here to see what a the fuss is about. But even he can’t fail to fling his arm out when we head to Salzkammergut the pretty lakeside area that is used during the opening sequence.
Neither can the stream of Sound O tourists who pull up in their bus, mural of the movie splashed on the side, and trickle out taking selfies, wailing The Sound Of Music missing the high, medium and low notes as they go.
“Not everyone can sing like Julie Andrews, huh?” nudges a fan to the left of me who is keeping his distance from a hen group, kitted out in matching Sound Of Music hoodies.
Luckily, tuneful singing can still be found in the shape of The Sound Of Salzburg Dinner Show.
Held regularly, a crew of note-perfect singers recite tunes from the show as well as folk songs and Mozart pieces.
Here, guests can gorge on schnitzel with noodles and apple strudels and even take a turn around the small stage with the cast, who perform a simple Viennese waltz.
It may not be the grand party that Captain Von Trapp throws in the musical, but it’s a jolly nod to the film.
But with the strains of So Long, Farewell ringing out, I too pay my goodbyes to this wonderful city, safe in the knowledge that here, the hills are still very much alive with music.
Keeley Bolger was a guest of Salzburg City (www.salzburg.info) and SalzburgerLand (www.salzburgerland. com) tourist boards. Prices quoted are valid for 2015 and subject to availability.
Inghams (www. inghams.co.uk; 01483 791 111) offers three-night breaks staying at Hotel NH Salzburg City from £509pp (two sharing B&B) including return flights from Gatwick to Salzburg and airport/ hotel transfers.
Original Sound of Music tours (www. panoramatours.com) are available from 40 euros per adult.
The Sound of Salzburg Dinner Show is available on selected dates with tickets priced from 49 euros per adult, including show and a traditional Austrian 3-course dinner.