Being that classes abroad aren’t exactly challenging, there’s no school on Fridays and plane tickets cost less than a bus ticket from Storrs to Boston, pretty much every student at ISI Florence leaves town each weekend. Some go partying in Amsterdam, others go shopping in Milan, but then there are the really cool people, like me, who make a beeline for the “Sound of Music” tour in Salzburg, Austria, the first chance they get.
For those who understand the romance, beauty and mastery of “The Sound of Music,” you probably know that the majority of the film was filmed in and around Salzburg. That means if you go to Salzburg, almost any place you step could have been the very same place a young Julie Andrews ran around singing. It also means that for the low price of 50 euros, you can be carted from movie scene to movie scene via a tour bus full of singing, excited tourists like yourself.
In a word, the tour was magical. Nothing could have prepared me and my fellow passengers for the emotional experience that was seeing the famous glass gazebo in person. Not only was it the location of the iconic “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” scene, with Liesel jumping from bench to bench while her soon-to-be-Nazi boyfriend patronized her. But it’s also the location for Maria and the Captain’s first kiss, where the pair’s silhouettes fused into one in the doorway of the gazebo. If they hadn’t passed around spiced hot wine after that particular stop, it would have been a teary trip to the cathedral where Maria and the Captain got married.
Although my love for “The Sound of Music” is strong and I could talk about the tour for hours, there is so much more to say about Salzburg. The food, for one, was life-changing. I ate traditional beef goulash, pork schnitzel, spinach dumplings, warm cheesy pretzels and a hot dog that opened my eyes to how food should taste. And yet, Salzburg is actually more well-known for its desserts than its savory food. I ate crisp apple strudel in a warm vanilla sauce that brought Maria’s “My Favorite Things” to life in my mouth. I had an incredible creation called s’nockerl, that consisted of three giant piles of caramelized meringue in a pool of fresh raspberry sauce, and a chocolate cake with thin layers of apricot called a sachertorte. It almost made me regret choosing Florence as my home abroad.
Beyond the delicious food and film locations, the city is strikingly beautiful, and its historic center is something to marvel at. Surrounded at all sides by snow-capped mountains bedecked in ancient fortresses, with the Salzburg River running down its middle and pastel buildings making up its center, Salzburg is a sight to behold. Everywhere you look is a sign dedicating a store or bridge to some long-ago historical event, most of which involving the city’s golden boy, Mozart. Quaint cafes, bars, markets and shops line the streets and line the sloping roads clinging to nearby mountains. Hiking trails welcome visitors and residents to look down from the mountains onto the rooftops, squares and beautiful cathedrals that decorate the town.
On a whole, Salzburg is a must- visit for anyone going abroad. And if you’re lucky enough to study there, expect to gain the most fabulous 30 pounds of your life.
Rebecca Maher is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.