To say that The Sound of Music was a defining film of my childhood would be an understatement. It was the movie that instigated my passion for musical theatre that still thrives today, nearly 23 years later. Aside from dancing around my room pretending to be one of the Von Trapp children, I was actually in the show twice. I auditioned for Gretl, the youngest child, and ended up playing Mother Abbess, the oldest character in the show. Go figure. Needless to say, when my friend Chelsea suggested a trip to Austria, I immediately became ecstatic at the prospect of fulfilling a lifelong dream: The Sound of Music tour in Salzburg!
Usually when I travel, I gravitate towards the local hangouts and other places off the beaten path rather than tourist traps. However, this was an extenuating circumstance and we definitely made an exception this trip. After all, what screams AMERICAN TOURIST more than a hop on/hop off Sound of Music tour? I may as well have carried around an American flag and a Lady Liberty head piece to identify myself as a foreigner. Chelsea and I were like two kids in a candy store as we sang songs and reminisced about our favorite parts of the film at each stop throughout the 4 hour tour. From the Nonnberg Abbey to the Frohnburg Castle to (just wait for it) the famous SOUND OF MUSIC PAVILION, we saw it all! Unfortunately, the doors of the gazebo were locked, so we were unable to recreate our own rendition of “16 Going on 17” like we had planned (Chelsea as Rolf and me as Liesl), but we DID snap tons of pictures and squealed with glee at each monument. Sometimes you have to suck it up and embrace your right to be a camera happy tourist.
As we headed back to Bastian, our host in Austria, we couldn’t wait to tell him all that we had seen! You can imagine our shock and awe when Bastian informed us that the majority of Austrians had barely even heard of the movie, much less seen it. You would have thought he told us Santa isn’t real. We couldn’t quite grasp the concept. You mean there are actually people in the world who did not grow up wanting a governess? Actual people who had never, not even once, sang “My Favorite Things” during a rainstorm? When he told us most Austrians only know of the movie from “silly Americans who come to Austria to go on the tour”, we nearly lost it. This was completely unacceptable. Since we were learning so much about Austrian culture from our time in Salzburg and Vienna (including important German vocab for young travelers, namely “Prost”, which means “cheers”), we decided it was only proper to complete the cultural exchange with a little American education. That night, Bastian brought over a projection screen and invited over a bunch of friends for an official Sound of Music screening. Though skeptical at first, we (obviously) won everyone over in the end. As though anyone would be able to resist Frauline Maria’s charm and taste in music. Even Bastian’s friends who barely spoke English momentarily forgot the language barrier and were singing along as best they could. While I’m sure none of them ever watched the movie again, I’m sure they will never forget that night and neither will we. As we said “So Long, Farewell” to Austria and our new friends, our hope was that we left as much of an impression on the country as it left on us. A big “prost” to Austria - until next time!