After having such a fantastic trip to Austria in October 2011, for the opening of The Sound of Music play and the opening of the exhibit about our family in the Salzburg museum, Walt and I realized that we really wanted to bring our girls, Annie and Stella to Salzburg. They are now old enough, at 7 and 9, to explore, embrace and remember new sites.
We had very grand ideas when we began to think about the trip. First, of course, we had Plan A; we would move to Austria for a year and the kids would go to school and our whole family would become fluent in German. Then we realized that wasn’t realistic with work and life with many animals to take care of at our house. We revised our plan and came up with Plan B; live for a month in an Austrian mountainside village and help a family with their cows and go hiking everyday. Then we realized that is what we do everyday in Stowe, Vermont! We needed a different experience so we revised once again and came up with Plan C; live for three weeks in the city of Salzburg. That is exactly the experience we were looking for to balance our country life in Vermont. We contacted our friends at Panorama Tours in Salzburg and they found us a wonderful apartment on a bus route and within walking distance to the old city. We were thrilled!
I’d like to tell you that we flew to Austria as soon as school ended, but as we needed to be home on June 25, we pulled the girls out a few days before the final day of school and hit the road for our first summer adventure of 2012. All at once we were combining the freedom from the rigid school structure with traveling to a different time zone and culture. It was wonderful.
Our time in Salzburg was very special because we were able to explore and learn about the unique city from two viewpoints; the many different locations where the movie, The Sound of Music, was filmed, and the real locations where my grandparents, Georg and Maria von Trapp, lived. It’s a good thing that my girls are old enough to grasp the difference between the movie about our family and the real life story.
One of the many different excursions that Panorama Tours offers is a Sound of Music tour. They take you to all the locations where the movie was filmed during the summer of 1964. And yes, you sing along the way. It’s really amazing to view the different grand palaces, buildings and gardens with the big Untesberg mountain overlooking you all the time. The deep sense of history through the ancient buildings is overwhelming at the various palaces. To see more famous sites we joined other Panorama Tours excursions such as Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, a tour of Salzburg, and toured the Salt Mines that made Salzburg so famous.
We were lucky enough to be in Salzburg at the same time as Debbie Turner who played Marta in the movie. She gave us some insight into what it was like to be a child actor in the movie and we realized that when she was filming The Sound of Music she had been 7 years old; the same age that my daughter, Annie is now. She was kind enough to give us a gift of a book, The Sound of Music family scrapbook, that she and the cast of children from the movie had put together about their time in Austria while filming the movie. Stella picked up the book and started reading and carried it with her for 3 weeks until she finished it. She was telling us facts about the actors and actresses and locations that I hadn’t known.
I was also reading my Aunt Agathe’s book, Memories Before and After the Sound of Music, to my girls. In her book she talks about living in Zell am See with her mother, Georg’s first wife, while Georg was in World War 1. Also, four of the children were born there. My Aunt Maria says it’s her favorite place in the world. We went to visit the old family property in Zell am See for three days.
Zell am See is a beautiful mountain resort town on the side of a lake about two hours outside of Salzburg. The family property is now privately owned by the Porsche family. Some buildings are private but they do operate a 14 room hotel called the Erlhof which has an excellent restaurant. Again, we were lucky enough to stay there and swim, ride bikes around the lake, take a boat tour, go skiing on the Kitzsteinhorn, and walk around the old town with shops and restaurants. It was really neat to think of being in the same places that my aunts and uncles had been when they were kids.
We headed back to Salzburg after visiting Zell am See and were able to see the family home in Aigen which is now a bed and breakfast called Villa Trapp. Although the house is not nearly as huge as the house you see in the movie, it does have a beautiful large back garden area that looks directly at the grand mountains. I’m beginning to understand more and more why our family was so comfortable choosing this beautiful part of Vermont in which to settle. And we bring beautiful things from Austria to the Trapp Family Lodge through agricultural traditions, architecture, recreation and hospitality.
We had such wonderful experiences with the Austrians. We had fantastic dinners and tours of properties and they always included our children and engaged them in conversation. And there were sausages, brautwurst and pretzels at every restaurant. We couldn’t go wrong.
So as you can see, Stella and Annie were able to get a strong impression of Austria and how our family relates to it both fictionally and truthfully. It was special for all of us and I’m so glad that our girls could understand how strongly our family is connected with Salzburg, Austria and Stowe, Vermont. I cant wait to continue our travels in Austria in the upcoming years. We can learn more and more German every time we go.
Kristina and her husband Walt both work at her family’s hotel in Stowe, Vermont– The Trapp Family Lodge.