I could tell you for a million years how beautiful Salzburg, Austria is, but it’s one of those places that you simply must visit for yourself in order to truly appreciate its full glory. The Alps wrap the city in what seems like tangible beauty: beauty you can almost touch aside from the fact that the mountains loom 3,000 meters (9842 feet!) above your head. The hills are very dark luscious green.

In spite of the stubborn clouds that refused to be blown away overnight, I hopped on a bus for the famous Sound of Music Bus Tour. We tooled around Salzburg while the tour guide relayed interesting and little-known trivia from the movie and the lives of the real family Von Trapp. When the tour guide switched off his microphone and turned on the soundtrack to the famous musical, I couldn’t help singing my face off with the rest of the Americans and gaping at the mountains, still impressive although they remained largely obscured by clouds. We took curve after curve, braving wind and rain and passing high-altitude snowpack still lingering in the ravines. When we stopped at the town of Mondsee (Moon Lake), we were able to stretch our legs, eat warm apple struzel with vanilla sauce and tour the church where the beautiful wedding scene in The Sound of Music was filmed.

I did not take this picture. This is what the area WOULD have looked like if the clouds would have taken off. Someday I'll return and see it like this.

Mondsee, the way I should have seen it...

Lovely lovely lovely. It's so peaceful and lovely in the countryside!

The church was breathtaking. Statue after gilded statue packed the church full of glittering gold and loveliness. The altar was simply over-the-top glorious. It is just as stunning in real life as when Maria walks down the aisle toward the Captain in the movie. The ceiling looks like the top of a iced cake. Its white with pink detailing criss-crossed, curlicued and arched and then “dripped” down the walls in perfectly straight columns.

Inside the Cathedral of Mondsee where the wedding scene from the Sound of Music was filmed. See the pink "Icing" dripping down the sides of the church in columns?

The apple struzel, I believe, deserves its own paragraph. Molly fairly laughed at me when I became reverent over my own “crisp apple struzel” in a restaurant where a little old lady prepares your food and you can look over the church, its courtyard and the hills. I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect to top off the Panoramic Sound of Music tour, and silently tried to remember every single detail about the struzel. It was warm and soft, the top powder-sugared and on either side of the dessert was ladled creamy, cloves-y, vanilla sauce. The apples were just cooked enough to be soft, but not mushy like the French apple pastries, and they  gave a little pop when you bit into them. I scooped every. Single. Last. Bite. And then Molly asked me if I was going to cry.

Crisp Apple Struzel with Vanilla Sauce... be jealous of me.

Mondsee, the lake that gives the town its name, is crystal-clear and icy, aqua blue. It is frigid cold because its water comes from the glaciers housed in the mountains far above. As the ice melts, it runs down the rocky cliffs and tumbles down in waterfalls. Over distance, the waterfalls become rivers and the rivers are the source to most of Austria’s beautiful lakes. I assume that when the sun comes out, it dances and sparkles on the water invitingly, but don’t take a swim unless you want to become almost as blue (with cold!) as the water!

I swear I will return to Austria someday when it is not cloudy. It is too beautiful to only visit once. The sky is bluer, the people are blonder (a rarity in France!!!) and it is very much like a little taste of home.

Kelsey, Danielle, Laura, Molly and me on top of the world at Wolfgangsee, Austria

Usually I give you a link to click on at this point, but I do not have a link for the entire Sound of Music movie. If you have not seen it, drop whatever you are doing at this very instant and watch it. It is good for your soul.

For the (condensed) history of the real Von Trapp family, click here. Theirs is a fascinating story, and one that beats the musical version in its drama. You can also read first-hand about Maria, Georg and their turbulent true-life musical. Maria herself wrote it! Click here for the book.