The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of ...

(Please read text first then watch the above video)

... my new Ibanez EW35ABE acoustic guitar. Well not quite but they will be this afternoon. Check out picture below of my surprise wedding anniversary present compliments of my beautiful wife Jodie. And it came from the Puhringer Music shop (est. 1826) in Salzburg Austria, which is right next door to the apartment building in which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and lived the first twenty years of his life. Now if that doesn't help improve my playing, then what will ? Yes I know practice will and I will... soon as I finish this blog.

However, yesterday, the hills around Salzburg were alive with the real 'Sound of Music' as Jo and I did the four hour Panorama Tours -The Original Sound of Music - singing bus tour ( Admittedly there were not a lot of gusto 'The Hills are Alive' type singers on our tour, but Jo would have to get the award for knowing the most words to every song that came over the bus stereo system and participating the most enthusiastically. And she can thank her father Dave for her TSOM singing expertise. The Sound of Music was the last movie Dave took himself to see in a cinema. He claimed that it's cinematic efforts and qualities could never be outdone and refused to grace the stalls with popcorn and jaffas ever again. But he never stopped playing the vinyl soundtrack from the movie at home and Jo being the impressionable sponge for beautiful songs that she is, absorbed its every word and note to perfection.

The lake where the boat capsized with the children in it

Jo singing up a storm
Seriously though, it was an amazing day out. Our tour guide Naomi was not only a local historian but she could do stand up comedy as well as sing. And she didn't quit trying to get the bus to pump up the volume. Salzburg has evidence of civilisation from 2000 BC. The major part of settlement took place from 680 AD and the city remains a thriving blend of old and new hidden away in some very surreal natural mountainous and lake landscapes. There are more castles in this town then there are McDonalds restaurants in the whole of Switzerland and each one of them has interesting tale of intrigue and power.

If you love music, theatre, art or just sniffing out historic trails as they weave their fabric in memory through old town cobble streets, in and out of museums and up and down steps of old kingdoms, then Salzburg is the place for you to spend a couple of days. Or if you are shallow and spontaneous like many think I am, and standing at a bratwurst caravan dining on two Austrian sausages with a delicious pile of mustard and a fresh bread roll, or savouring a slice of the famous Salzburg chocolate Sacher-Torte or sitting in the Braun Cafe at Mondsee ( devouring a slab of crisp, freshly baked apple strudel covered with hot vanilla custard and supported with the best vanilla ice cream you will ever taste, than Salzburg is for you also a must do.

And the added bonus for us was a surprise visit to our tour bus by Sam and Christina von Trapp, who are non other than the grandchildren of Maria von Trapp (played by Julie Andrews in the movie). Sam and Christina, who both live in Stowe Vermont (where the Trapp family eventually settled after escaping from Austria) in the United States, were in Salzburg for the opening of a new stage musical version of The Sound of Music. Now that was a pretty cool, three degrees of separation experience. To top it off a local tourism group did some filming of the von Trapp's visit to salzburg and accopanied our 'Singing bus' tour. And that's what the video above is all about. We even had two Brisbane born Aussies on board (Ben and Jane) with their new London born Aussie, taking in a couple of weeks of Europe before they head home to live in Sydney after seven years overseas.
singing 'sixteen going on seventeen?'

The normal person in the background is Jane from Brisbane

The church from 'the' wedding...

is equally as beautiful inside

And Jo is always making interesting new friends
And there's 'that' fountain
And Jo singing and skipping as usual
Now if you are driving from Lausanne or Geneva for a weekend in Salzburg, a great little halfway stopover point is Lindau (about three and a half hours from Lausanne) on the shores of Lake Constance in Germany. We walked this quaint island village early before breakfast, the sun gently licking the Swiss Alps around Saint Gallen in the distance as the autumn leaves swept the path before us. I purposely stopped myself from being mesmerised by the sweet smells that snaked their way from the bakery doorways that seemed to dominate the street scape as we sauntered because I was so looking forward to my first German style breakfast awaiting me in the glass cased breakfast room at the Hotel Schongarten

So there it is. A spontaneous weekend away in the Austrian Alps, a chance meeting with a legend's grandson and some family insight into a film that is still revered almost fifty years after its making as the most popular musical of all time. And Jo and I had a yodelling lesson. In fact we both think that we are both so good at yodelling that when we eventually return home to Oz we might even have a crack at opening a yodelling academy.

Okay here's the first lesson in yodelling 101. Repeat after me  'A little old lady'.
Now yodel it and you are on your way. And don't forget to practice but not after ten pm if you are living in Switzerland.
Fishing Austrian style 1 (Looks more Australian to me)
And Austrian style 2


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