Austria WINS!!!! The Most Boring Tour Ever!
There are two "Sound of Music" tours being run in Salzburg. One is called "The Most Unique Sound of Music Tour" and the other is called "The Original Sound of Music Tour". I had previously read in a guidebook 'to make sure you get xyz tour and not the other one' except I couldn't remember which was which.
We booked through the hostel so I figured that they would know which was the better tour as they were endorsing it (and making a profit off it).
We were supposed to be picked up at 8.45am but as two minibuses came and went with a full load, we were left to wait until close to 9.20am. The minibus driver then blasted us with the most awful Austrian Top 10 pop songs that we had to cover the speakers with jumpers and bags to dampen the din.
We were transferred to the big bus and introduced to our guide. She was a middle aged lady with very poor English who frequently laughed at her own jokes and repeated herself ad nauseum hoping we would understand. She stumbled and fumbled the "commentary" and made up parts as it suited her. She spent half the tour explaining the plot of the movie and when she got bored of that she put on the soundtrack. She attempted to encourage the "captives" to sing along but few did. The soundtrack also had a habit of starting from the beginning every time the bus stopped.
We were supposed to see "16 sights from the movie" but what we got instead was the glimpse through the trees if you were really lucky of the house the real Maria once lived in; the glimpse up the hill of the Abbey if you were lucky; the view of the back of the house from across the lake; the view of the front of the house from across the fields (at 80kph as the bus could not slow down on the highway); the lake which Maria liked; the nice yellow house that was standing when Maria lived in these parts; and to top it all off - the church where Maria was married - but it cost a "free donation of a euro" to see their scaffolding.
This was 4 hours of tedious, monotonous, boredom to the tunes of the movie (over and over) and I think it would have been more amusing and more pleasant to shove darning needles into my eyeballs... but the torture did not end there.
Ainslie from Ooooorlaaaando Floooooorida had once been told by someone that she could sing. So she roped in her two mates, took charge of the microphone and proceeded to murder the songs from the soundtrack until we were begging for mercy. At this point the entire bus joined in to sing Doh a Dear in the hope of drowning out the trio. When this failed the driver turned up the music but this only encouraged them to try other songs. The bus finally stopped at our next "site" and we fell over each other trying to get off the bus and away from the tortured cats.
The highlight of the tour, which had nothing to do with S of M, was the toboggan run. This was the little bit of adrenalin we needed to prevent us sleeping through the entire tour.
To finally rub salt into our wounds, when we eventually made it back to Salzburg, we were told very unceremoniously that we would NOT be given a lift back to our hostel - we would have to walk 2.5 kilometres in the midday sun.
My anger was heightened when the staff at the hostel confessed that none of them had ever done the tour, and yet they were selling it to the "sucker" tourist and making a profit off it. I think a letter to the manager may be in order.
Tip #24 DO NOT under any circumstances, do "The Most Unique Sound of Music Tour". I have no idea what "The Original Sound of Music Tour" is like, however it covers the same scenery and also lasts for four hours - so potentially it is equally tedious and boring.
The second half of the day made up for the disastrous first half of the day. We jumped on the bike and rode, only slightly faster than I should have, about thirty kilometres to the south to visit Hitler's Tea Room. It was a good run past a river that was the colour of a Midori Splice and then the last part up a steep hill for about 5 kilometres.
We parked about half way up the mountain and caught the special bus the rest of the way. The mountain track is so steep and windy that the buses have been specially modified to cope. It was a really amazing, incredible ride to the top with fabulous views down into the valleys and off into the distance. When we reached the top, we walked through a cold damp tunnel to the nineteen thirties brass lift which took us into the Eagle's Nest.
The history of the Eagles Nest was that Bormann had given it to Hitler as a 50th birthday present in 1939. Apparently Hitler didn't like heights and suffered dizzy spells at altitude, so he barely spent any time up there. Although it was occupied by the Americans after WWII, the caretaker managed to salvage most of the fittings and negotiated with the authorities for it to be saved from being blown up. The building and all its furnishings were still exactly the same as in 1939 and I can understand how Hitler could have believed he was king of the world when standing on this mountain.
Unfortunately as we had wasted most of our day on the disastrous morning tour, we had caught the last bus up the mountain and could only stay for half an hour before catching the last bus down the mountain. Our intention to visit the Salt Mines and slide down a slipperydip of salt did not eventuate. We returned to Salzburg and moved into a private room and spent the rest of the evening packing for our departure - we resisted the temptation to rewatch the Sound of Music movie yet again.