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Bad Taste Tour: The Sound of Music in Salzburg

Usually our Bad Taste Tours take you to places that are unquestionably tasteless; the Paris Sewer Tour, a Urology Museum, stuff like that. But now, The Savvy Traveler's Cash Peters takes us on a perennial favorite that could be viewed as being in poor taste. You decide.

Bad Taste Tour: The Sound of Music in Salzburg
by Cash Peters

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Tour guide: "Hello."

Tourist: "Is this for the Salt mines?"

Tour guide: "No!"

And that was the choice really. Head off to the salt mines for an afternoon, and how much fun can that be, or chicken out like the spineless sissy that I am and take the Sound of Music coach tour. So...

Heissmayer: "American people, they are coming to Salzburg and I think 90 percent of them, they want to visit the places of The Sound of Music film."

Cash: "But isn't it strange, though, that had this film never been made, Salzburg might not have been the major tourist attraction it is now?"

Heissmayer: "This is perhaps possible, yes. So, we are very happy."

Yeah, she sounds it, doesn't she. That's Stephanie Heissmayer of the Salzburg Tourist Office. Salzburg's main claim to fame for centuries was that Mozart was born here. And believe me, they milk that one for all it's worth. But then, as the whole Mozart thing was getting a bit tired, Rogers and Hammerstein breezed into town with their tales of captains and nuns and children dressed in old curtains and started a whole new tourist stampede.


American Tourist: "It always seemed to come on TV sometime around Christmas time, and just about every year we've always watched it and it's always been a favorite in our family, at least among my sisters."

Cash: "So you're not some kind of pathetic, hopeless old romantic?"

American Tourist: "There might be a little kernel of it."

Mitch: "Ladies and gentlemen, we're off and away on the Sound of Music tour. Now, you're all on the right bus?"

Yeah, we were. That's our guide, Mitch, of Panorama tours who began all chipper and got steadily more weary as the day wore on.

Mitch: "We have three rules on this bus: if you wouldn't smoke on the bus; if you wouldn't eat on the bus; and if you always please could be on time."

Shame not everyone was listening, as you'll discover in a moment. Anyway, cheesy as it sounds, the tour is a hoot. You get to ride around to a bunch of movie locations with a busload of wacko strangers singing 'The Lonely Goat Herder' at the top of your voice and hoping no one ever finds out.

British Tourist: "It's been part of my childhood."

Cash: "You have never seen it, have you? You have never seen this movie."

British Tourist: "I can quote almost every word."

American Tourist: "I don't know, I just have loved it since I was really tiny. It's just my favorite musical."

Cash: "But when you actually see the places themselves, how do you feel?"

American Tourist: "So excited! I'm full of butterflies!"

Cash: "You don't think you should have upped your dosage today?"

American Tourist: "Probably!"

Another British Tourist: "You can't take this seriously, right?"

Cash: "I think it's actually quite exciting. In a way . . ."

British Tourist: "In a strange, sadistic sort of way, a tragic way perhaps?"

Cash: "But it's not the kind of thing you tell people you've been on. That's the thing, you actually keep this to yourself for the rest of time."

British Tourist: "Ah, that's why I've got no film in my camera."

British Tourist: "I think that the whole attraction about this is it's simplicity and it's innocence. The movie has got everything for everyone. It didn't put anyone out of place. It's just got innocent good fun."

Mitch: "Ladies and gentlemen, here we are. Do you notice something? Do you recognize something? The house that they used as the back façade in the movie. It's called Castle Leopoldskron and it was used in the Sound of Music for the scenes when the kids came along in the boat, splashing everyone with water."

Nice castle. In total, we got to see two houses from far away, a convent from very far away, a church and the gazebo where Julie Andrews kissed Christopher Plummer. And when it wasn't interesting, I had Ilene to talk to. Ilene was wonderful. She's from Minnesota and she . . . well, listen.


Ilene: "I have loved the musical since it was first on Broadway and, when I finally got my husband to come and see the play that my children were in, he said, 'No wonder you love it, it's the story of your life.' And it was very similar."

Cash: "You were a nun?"

Ilene: "I got into a lot of trouble like her and they said please leave. I was very young."

Mitch: "Ladies and gentlemen, this gazebo you're looking at is original except for the roof, the floor, the benches and the glass."

Mitch is a great guide, and I think he was having quite a good time up to this point, but then we went to the village of Mondsee.

Mitch: "We're coming into the village of Mondsee now folks. This is where the wedding church is."

Which is where the wedding church is, the one Maria gets married in. It's also where it started pouring with rain and where, when the time came to leave, we realized we'd lost Ilene the ex-nun. She vanished. So, poor, old Mitch had to put on his hat and coat and go in search. The moment he left, of course, Ilene turned up all flustered. In a village with basically one street, she got hopelessly lost.

Cash: "So on a scale of one to ten, how embarrassed are you?"

Ilene: "100."

Cash: "I thought you'd fallen asleep in the church because I never saw you come out."

Ilene: "No. I had a little meeting with God."

Cash: "He didn't tell you you were late?"

Ilene: "I'm afraid not. Oh, that's terrible. I feel awful. Should I go look for him now?"

Don't, dear no. And anyway, Mitch turned up soon after, wet, annoyed and ready to grab Ilene by the throat. But all in all, it was great fun. The tour completely won me over, and not just me.

British Tourist: "I'm a full Sound of Music junkie. My room is covered with Sound of Music posters and I want to be the captain when I grow up."

That's never going to happen . . . him growing up, I mean. I'm Cash Peters in Salzburg, Austria for The Savvy Traveler.


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