WEEKEND WEB: ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music’

Trish at the Pegasus fountain in Salzburg.
Trish at the Pegasus fountain in Salzburg.
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TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

I was certainly channelling Julie Andrews last week when we spent time in stunning Salzburg, the home of the von Trapp family and location for many scenes from the movie.

Being such a drama luvvie, I was in my element, and had to be gently moved on from recognisable sights in case I was tempted to burst into a Rogers and Hammerstein medley.

Our hotel was very near the Palace of Mirabell. It’s the scene where Maria and the children sing ‘Do-Re-Mi’, after their horse and carriage ride through the city streets.

Dougie wasn’t tempted to don his lederhosen and join me in a skip around the Pegasus fountain but I’m sure he could hear me humming ‘doe, a deer, a female deer’ as we admired the gardens.

We had been climbing every mountain and fording every stream in the Austrian alps the previous week so another steep ascent up to the Nonnberg Abbey was a breeze.

I’m sure my beloved was also sighing and wondering how to solve a problem like Patricia, as I insisted we go into the church.

But here, a little musical magic occurred. We were the only visitors, so we switched on the lights over the altar and walked around.

It was then we heard the gentle, melodic sound of the nuns singing. A sweet, rhythmic chant echoed around the church and yet we couldn’t see anyone: the voices were coming from a separate part of the building, hidden from view. Spine-tingling.

We hoped we might see the famous Summer Riding School, which was transformed into a concert venue in 1926 for the Salzburg Festival.

It was here, in this extraordinary building carved into the mountain, that the real and movie von Trapps sang in a competition.

Unfortunately rehearsals for a production were taking place so visitors were not allowed to enter but we did take a tour of the other venues which form part of the festival halls and it was an absolute treat.

We were taken onstage and backstage and I even sat in Placido Domingo’s seat. Just off centre, row 12, seat 21: it’s apparently the best seat in the house.

Of course, if you prefer a little night music, Salzburg is the home of Mozart. Indeed, you can have your fill of his chocolate and marzipan balls in every souvenir shop in the city.

We explored the pretty house where he was born and, later that evening, returned to the Mirabell Palace where, instead of do-re-mi-ing round the fountain, we attended a concert in the famous Marble Hall where Wolfgang and his sister were regular performers.

The Parlante Ensemble entertained us with pieces from Schubert, Mozart, Puccini and Dvorak.

We floated out of the concert and back to our hotel. Our stay in Salzburg was sadly over. “So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.”

• You can read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk