I've done a SOM tour before with one of those big bus companies; decided to do Bob's Tour after reading the recommendations. We were really disappointed. Our guide didn't speak great English at all and just told us basic info, often repeating herself. There were no bits of fun trivia about how the movie was made. At the gazebo I asked her if she could tell us the story about Liesl slipping and crashing through the gazebo window (didn't want to give all the additional details) and all she said was 'yes, she slipped and fell'. I then piped up the rest of the story. The only advantage of using Bob's was that perhaps using the van allows more access on certain roads, as we traveled through the lake district on our way to Mondsee, stopping for a picture stop. At the end of the tour she stopped the van and pointed in the direction of Mirabell gardens, saying our tour was done. Mmmm.... I will definitely not be poo-pooing the larger bus tours.
Of course, Lisl didn't slip and fall in that gazebo. The one they show you on the tours was only used for distance shots on the temporary set that was a copy of the lakeside patio at Leopoldskron, which wasn't used in the movie. After the movie someone saved it by moving it to Hellbrunn, which also wasn't used in the movie. And the house "behind" the patio, Frohnburg, was somewhere else, not on a lake, and the patio scenes were shot in two places and put together to look like they were one location. Did they tell you that?
The actual gazebo used in the singing and dancing scenes in the movie was a set in Hollywood, and no longer exists. (Did you think it just happened to start raining at the end of "16 going on 17".
Mirabell, actually, is one of the few venues in Salzburg used extensively in the movie (do-re-mi steps and the arbor). A lot of the scenes, such as the inside of the Von Trapp home, the inside of the abbey, and the cemetery, were shot in Hollywood.
She did mention some of those things, including how all the indoor scenes were shot in the movie studio in the US and the outdoor shots on location. She said the gazebo was moved a few times before being a fixed at its current location. But overall, just a 'dub' of a tour compared to the one I took 10 years ago on a big bus with a fun, animated guide who gave us a LOT of info about how the movie was made.
on a big bus with a fun, animated guide who gave us a LOT of info
about how the movie was made.
Probably the best source of information on how the movie was made is from Robt. Wise, the producer/director of the movie, himself. His commentary is included on my DVD of the movie (I don't know if it is still available, but it is priceless). He spends the whole time, while the movie is playing in the background, describing in detail how the movie was made, why they did it the way they did, bits of information about the actors, where the scenes were shot and why, etc.
So, which "Big Bus" tour did you take? My family and I booked Bobsfor an upcoming trip but your experience is now giving me second thoughts.
You might also post your review comments on Trip Advisor as that's more likely to be read by Bob's Tours. You could also write them directly. Feedback from their customers is probably the best way to ensure that changes will be made.
Thank you; I actually posted the exact thing I wrote above to the Trip Advisor site.
I don't remember the name of the original tour I took on a bus as it was in 2004 and I booked it through my hotel in Salzburg at the time. Maybe Panorama Tours??
They have been in business for a long time. I took their tour back in 1983. Can you imagine working for a company since then and have to listen to the songs and tell the story everyday? I guess it would be better than working on the Small World ride at Disneyland. At least you will see some pretty countryside.
"My family and I booked Bobsfor an upcoming trip but your experience is now giving me second thoughts."
I wouldn't let one person's experience make me choose or not choose a tour. Please do look at TA where the majority of reviews for Bob's SOM tour are excellent.
We had a wonderful experience with Bob's when in Salzburg and I highly recommend them to anyone who is a SOM fan.
This thread is a good discussion, on both sides, of this tour: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/austria/sound-of-music
Thank you for your reply, Nancy. I booked "Bob's SOM" tour in the first place because of reading many positive reviews. Generally, I prefer not to take guided tours of any kind. A couple of years ago my family and I took a day-long tour from Florence which stopped at several small towns and also at a winery. I found the tour too structured and it felt that the guide had a kickback deal with certain vendors at every stop (especially the winery, where we had lunch). For our upcoming trip, however, I thought it would be easier to go with Bob's since we won't have a car and the tour also makes a stop at Hallstadt (I hope its more than just a few minutes!). We are booked for April and I am hoping for the best. Thanks again.
We did the Panorama SOM Tour 1A late January two years ago. In January the Panorama services used a minivan with driver/guide and just 5 of us clients. They use the big buses during peak demand months and the minivans during the other season. We booked through the hotel at the basic price (no RS book discount) but the guide picked us up at our hotel. Advantage of the minivan is the guide could drive us to the view of The Abbey and would stop for photo ops on request or at his suggestion (e.g. the Red Bull International Headquarters building site). No need for "selfies" as the guide was happy to act as photographer. And we didn't have any problems understanding his English.
Sorry to hear that. Given that any SoM tour is more entertainment than anything else the experience will always depend on the guide. If the guide is having a bad day that particular tour is going to be a bust - whether it's a 'big bus' tour or not.
I guess the only recourse in such cases is to go straight back to 'Bob', explain what happened and see what they do in response. Personally I find doing that a painful experience - but my wife seems to flat out enjoy it so I send her to do it :-)
I see that Bob's has reached out to you on TripAdvisor. Even if you can't remember the guide's name, maybe they can figure out who it was based on the date of your tour and hopefully enforce their "no grumps" policy.
We took a Bob's tour in May of this year and quite enjoyed it. Our guide/driver sounded like he was a native English speaker. He was full of information about the movie and what was true vs. not true. I would definitely recommend the small van tour over a big bus tour. I have no complaints about Bob's.
Our guide/driver ... was full of information about the movie and what
was true vs. not true.
The website for Bob's SOM tour says, "a stop at the magnificent Palace of Leopoldskron - one of two mansions used as the Von Trapp Home". Did your guide tell you that that was not true, that Leopoldskron never appears in the movie (according to producer/director Robt. Wise)?
Lee, can you site the source for that information from director Robert Wise? I know you keep repeating it here but I can't seem to find it anywhere. What I did find was the following:
"Leopoldskron Castle was chosen for the setting on the lake with the garden and the terrace leading down to the water." From the website: http://www.sound-of-music.com/sound-of-music/the-making-of/
"The lakeside terrace, though, was filmed at Schloss Leopoldskron, a rococo castle on Leopoldskroner Teich, a small artificial lake on the southwest of the town. Now a seminar and conference centre, you can view Leopoldskron across the lake from König Ludwig Strasse." From the website: http://www.movie-locations.com/movies/s/soundmusic_1.html#.WHBRdVMrLIU
In the long run, why the heck does it matter, if people love the movie and enjoy the tours? As far as I know most of the tour guides are upfront about the fact that the majority of the movie sets were in studios in Hollywood and only some few exterior scenes were actually filmed in Salzburg.
Lee, can you site the source for that information from director Robert
It came from Robert Wise himself, in his own voice. My DVD of SOM (Single Disc Full Screen Edition, Aug. 2002) has a "bonus feature", a running commentary by Robert Wise about the making of the movie. This commentary runs the entire length of the DVD, with the movie in the background.
Early on Wise explains why the Frohnburg was chosen as the Von Trapp home. But the script called for a house on a lake, and the Frohnburg was not on a lake. Wise says that everyone wanted to use Leopoldskron as the setting for the lakeside scenes, but it was being used as a school for American Studies and they could not get permission to film there. They did get permission to use the property next door, so they built a duplicate of the lakeside patio and boat landing at Leopoldskron on the property next door and used it for the lakeside scenes. This fact is explained in the commentary with the scene of the boat swamping in the background.
The scene where, after swamping the rowboat, Maria discusses the children with the Captain was actually shot at two places, weeks apart. The scenes looking at Maria were shot at the back of the Frohnburg, while the scenes of the Captain were shot at the lakeside patio set, and the scenes were spliced together to look like one place.
BTW, on the site you linked to, look at the bottom of the pages, and you will see that those pages were created and copyrighted by Panorama Tours.
The official Salzburg tourist site also mentions the role of Schloss Leopoldskron, but says it was only the façade that was used, as the exterior of the Von Trapp villa.
Maybe it was shot from across the lake? Most websites do explain that the interior scenes were never shot at this palace; they were filmed in replicas built at the studio.
And I still say: what the he** difference does it make. People enjoy the tours so let them, most people don't care about the specifics because they're not there as serious film students, they just want to enjoy the lovely scenery and see some of the locations (even though those may have just been the inspiration for the actual filming locations). Nobody's forcing anyone to go on the tour. Do you suppose all the anecdotes given by tour guides on walking tours such as the Rothenburg Night Watchman tour or the London Jack the Ripper tours are accurate. If you need historically accurate info on a tour, make sure your tour guide is a true expert in the field or just sit back and enjoy it.
So you would accept rumor and fiction over actual facts? If I am paying for a tour I expect to be told stories, but if they are represented as true they should be. We haven't been to Germany or Austria, but if the major attractions in Salzburg and Rothenburg are made-up stories then maybe we will skip those places.
...but if the major attractions in Salzburg and Rothenburg are made-up stories then maybe we will skip those places.
This topic has been hammered into the ground. I think most folks with the financial wherewithal to travel overseas are probably swift enough to understand the difference between fact and fiction. Tours such as the SOM are entertainment, not an academic course in the history of the WW2 era event. Guides (at least our guide) make it clear that the Austrians make an even bigger effort to ignore the SOM move because of all the historic inaccuracies that our guide pointed out.
And those who would skip places with made-up stories should not patronize Disneyland or Disney World. (I do wonder why some folks go to Paris to see Disneyland). After all, they are lands of made-up stories. And don't bother seeing the made-up movie "Rogue One".
If there were a like button I would click it Edgar. :)
Agree with Edgar. Last time we were in Salzburg, we walked to several of the SoM sites, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking a photo with the gazebo, etc. I was linking those with pleasant memories of watching the movie with my daughters - not some detailed fact-finding "is/is not" list.
Good to know about this tour, next time I am in Salzburg.
Tours such as the SOM are entertainment
I wish they would promote them as such. Right in the text they say,
Let us take you to the original venues of filming
Leopoldskron - one of two mansions used as the Von Trapp Home
Which is not true. Leopoldskron never appears in the movie.
Ann, you can see most of the important venues just by walking around town. In 2002, I arrived by train and walked from the station to Mirabell Palace, scene of the Do-Re-Mi steps and the Pegasus statue. Then we walked on to the old town and saw the plaza where Maria caught the bus to the Frohnburg. We saw the plaza in front of the Residenz, where they hung the huge Nazi flag following the Anschluß. After touring the Fortress, we walked around the hill to Nonnberg Abbey and saw the chapel (which I didn't recognize as being in the movie). Since then, I've been to Hohenwerfen, the castle you see in the background when she is first teaching the children to sing, and I've visited the wedding church in Mondsee.
About the only thing from the movie I did not see, and regret not seeing, is the Felsenreitschule, the auditorium where they sang before leaving Salzburg. But I don't see any tours including this venue.
My final post on this. I thoroughly enjoyed my Bob's SOM tour. I thought that the guide was VERY clear about the locations that were in the movie and ones that were filmed on a lot back in the US. They drove us past some fields that they were very clear to say were like ones in the movie, but were not actually in the movie. At the chapel where the wedding was filled the guide explained some of the tricks that they used to make it seem bigger. The movie itself does not follow Maria's life exactly--read the book for a closer version. But it was heck a lot of fun and part of the fun was being with other people who were also enjoying themselves. Go see the sights yourself if you are on a budget, but if you have limited time or just plain want the fun, by all means take the tour.
Cameron Hewitt is Rick Steves's coauthor and assistant. You may be interested in his take on the SOM tours, as a non-fan of the movie: http://blog.ricksteves.com/cameron/2016/06/doh-a-deer/
You may also be interested in a post about the complex relationship between the show, the movie, and Austrians, from the perspective of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization: http://www.rnh.com/news/812/The-Sound-Of-Music-Comes-Home
In 1976 I attended Salzburg College, which was housed in the Meierhof, the building next door to the Schloss Leopoldskron. The summerhouse was in our backyard, and tour buses stopped in our parking lot almost daily. From the lakeside, you could see the terrace of the Schloss, which is identical to the temporary set used for the actual filming of the movie. Even if the actual Schloss was not filmed, the terrace is identical to the one that people see in the film. I agree that they shouldn't try to pass it off as where the movie was actually filmed, but it is still familiar to fans of the movie.
Thanks Harold for both of those links. I loved the Cameron Hewitt blog, made me laugh hysterically, but may help others understand why people still keep wanting those tours and asking about them and, most likely, nothing you say will change that, so why waste your breath. The other link was very interesting, I had not heard that they ever staged the musical in Vienna and I would love to see/hear it entirely in German - faithful to the original stage version, not the movie.