Which one of us hasn't been captivated by the musical
The Sound Of Music
? Do-Re-Mi and Edelweiss may still be on our lips, but it was the magical settings in the Julie Andrews film that we fell in love with. So, welcome to Salzburg! A diehard fan of this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, I finally fulfilled a lifelong dream to live the movie during a recent visit to the ancient and historical city on the banks of the river Salzac in Austria.
Located in a dramatic setting - its castle, churches and palaces are nestled within a scenic ring of mountains - Salzburg is at its most beautiful at night, when its white-washed castle gives off a luminous glow and seems to illuminate the entire city.
Fortunately, I quickly realised that Salzburg isn't only a giant film set but offers plenty of other attractions that appeal to both young and old.
Amongst the first things I noticed was the contrast of old world charm with a modern, sophisticated style. Although it is in Austria, Salzburg has a distinct Italianate feel. And like all things Italian the town exudes a chic, cosmopolitan air with street side cafes and the smell of coffee wafting through the air...
A word of advice - before leaving for Salzburg, get a pair of sturdy walking shoes. Since much of the Old City is a pedestrian zone and relatively small, it is ideal for walking and window shopping.
It only takes about 20 minutes to walk from Nonntal (the southern end) to Millln (the northern end). If you're in a hurry, take a taxi. But if not, indulge in a Fiaker ride - an old-time horse and buggy creation - for a leisurely tour of the city Just as Italy is famous for its architecture and Switzerland for its scenery Salzburg is synonymous with the music of Mozart.
In fact the entire city is a giant monument to the gifted composer who was born here. Since 1920, the Salzburg Festival, which draws a crowd to the city from mid-July until the end of August, has honored Mozart with performances of his works by the world's greatest musicians.
Whether performed in the festival halls or outdoors, Mozart's music serves as the heartbeat of Salzburg. The city's most famous squares include Residence Square with its splendid fountain; the neighbouring Old Market and University Square. Mozart Square, with the memorial of the city's genius, is worth a stroll. Don't miss out on shopping at Getreidegasse, the Old City's main shopping street.
Here, posh shops set in cutely painted town houses announce their wares through the overhanging wrought-iron scrolls which one writer has compared to chandeliers (there is even one for the neighborhood McDonalds).
Of course my raison d'etre in Salzburg was to explore the scenic and monumental locations where my favourite film was shot way back in 1964, so I hopped aboard one of the many tour buses that organise daily sightseeing tours to the Sound of Music sights. Besides showing tourists some of the film's outdoor locations it is also a clever way to see the entire city So you can kil1two birds with one stone!
As I cavorted in the beautifully manicured Mirabelle Gardens where Do-Re-Mi was performed, then continued my fantasy by dancing in the glass gazebo where Lies1von Trapp sings IAm Sixteen Going On Seventeen, it was hard not to succumb to the charms of Salzburg. Just as Hollywood did.