One of the main things that I wanted to do in coming to Europe was a Sound of Music Tour. Also, considering our restricted luggage and car space, our focus was to be more on experiences rather than accumulating souvenirs. I did however come up with three main treasures that I thought I would like to get;
1. A traditional costume ( I'm generally happy to take any excuse to dress up ).
3. A puppet from Prague
Dirndls are a traditional dress worn in Austria, as well as the Tyrol and Bavarian regions of Germany. For me, it was love at first sight. These adorable dresses were in shop windows all over the place and I could perfectly vision myself twirling around on top of an Austrian mountain singing "the hills are alive!!" And of course my girls shared this fantastic dream! We decided that a Sound of Music Tour was the best way to enjoy dressing up, twirling, and to totally indulge in my geeky side and my love of the movie "The Sound of Music".
When I was a little girl, I stayed at a friends house for two weeks while my parents were away overseas, and I have memories of watching 'The Sound of Music' everyday with her! I absolutely love it! Another time, I remember trying to pack for a trip, and so I put on 'The Sound of Music' for my kids to watch to keep them occupied while I packed....but then I got nothing done because I couldn't tear myself away from it! What an exciting thing to go on the tour and see all the places where it was filmed!
To prepare for this all important life event, Zahli and I went Dirndl shopping in Maria Alm. I had already found a beautiful Dirndl for Amira while we were in Bavaria. We had lots of fun trying on all different dresses and deciding which ones we liked. They are pretty expensive, so even getting the cheapest ones in the store I had to extract promises from my girls that they would wear them at every possible opportunity. Luckily for us, Austrians actually wear their traditional costume to church, special events etc. So we justified the purchase because we could wear then to church every week! Plus any other day that we felt like becoming the embodiment of countryside Austrian maidenhood.... or for twirling on top of mountains.
Dirndls are so fun to wear! You automatically feel Austrian, feminine, pretty.....and short of breath. Yep, Dirndls are like a corset, restricting air flow considerably. But on the up side, I could actually breast-feed in one. The men's traditional costume is the Lederhosen, which I totally loved! Ross said there was no way that he was buying or wearing one, but I had secret plans to use my persuasive powers and convince him to buy some. Mmmwwahahaha
So one morning, the girls and I donned our dirndls, braided and bunned our hair, and Ross drove the 1.5 hours to Salzburg for our pre-booked Sound of Music Tour. This was the first time that I'd had a chance to be baby free and enjoy seeing something in Europe, and it was fantastic!!! It was everything I hoped it would be. It was a complete 10/10 day for the Gilbert girls! We sang, we danced, we ogled movie settings and listened to fun movie trivia. We completely ate up all of that glorious corny fun!!
Our first stop was the Gazebo where Liesl and Rolf dance and sing 'I am sixteen going on seventeen', and where Maria and the Captain confess their love. Unfortunately, there is no prancing around re-enacting those dance scenes allowed. An elderly lady ( in her 80's I think! ) injured herself while leaping from bench to bench pretending to be Liesl! Bahahahaha!!
Near to the Gazebo is the location of the house front, as well as the strip of trees that the Von Trapp kids all hang from when their father returns from Vienna.
Next we saw a few sights around Salzburg and then the bus headed up to the Lake District. On the way, we sang and geeked out over all kinds of Sound of Music trivia. We loved it!!!
Once we had seen the gorgeous sight of the Austrian Lake District, our tour took us to a town called Mondsee. Here we got to see the church where Maria and the Captain are married, and also try our first crisp apple strudel!
We took a bit too long eating up our strudel so there was a bit of running going on as we hurried to catch the bus. ( Part of that running may or may not have included twirls in a nearby field on the way... )
We asked a friendly co-tour passenger to take a photo of us in front of the bus. Maybe the best part of the day was being asked, for the third time, if we were sisters! Haha! Although, I can't take too much credit here for youthful appearance. It was perhaps the full extent of my juvenile behaviour ( like the loud out-of-tune singing or the twirling ) that may have prompted such complementary questions, oh well, I'll take it anyway!
Our last stop for the tour was the beautiful Mirabella gardens. It was here that we got to re-enact 'Do-Re-Mi' and we had a blast! Most probably we looked like crazy foreigners, but at least this time we were happy crazy foreigners without a screaming baby in tow. We made friends with other 'Sound of Music' fans and took turns filming each other dancing through the tunnel! It's amazing what can bring strangers together!
We ended our awesome day on the steps of Do-Re-Mi. We had to wait for the crowd to pass enough to get a photo, and then ask someone to take it of us - three crazies pretending to be the Von Trapps. Hahaha
I am so grateful for this experience. We have had a lot of frustrating and down right awful experiences on our travel through Europe, but this girls day out was pure joy. We were silly and laughed and we had so much fun together. It felt so special to be creating such positive and playful memories together. And it is also good to realize that even though we had struggled and battled through many aspects of our journey so far, that we also got to smile, and have fun, and completely enjoy some of our crazy adventures.