THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Salzburg to Lake Garda

An extraordinary day in Salzburg

Over morning coffee, Babicka and I decided to do a city tour by bus. After yesterday's downpours we didn't fancy a day seeking shelter. When we got to the tour company, we were upsold to the Original Sound of Music Tour.  As well as seeing the same sights as on the tour we'd intended, we'd go on to the Mondsee and other sights in the surrounding countryside.

Almost sixty years on from the release of the most successful musical movie ever – 300,000 tourists a year come to Salzburg (a city of 150,000 souls) specifically to visit its shooting locations! I should not be surprised. When planning our route, Salzburg was the only place B. specified. Why? Because she wanted to see where The Sound of Music was made. 

We hadn't accounted for the fanaticism of our fellow travellers. The songs from the film were played in between commentaries. They knew all the words and sang along. At the locations, they re-enacted the scenes shot there. To be fair, there were a whole bunch of men being patiently accommodating to their womenfolk, but it still felt like we'd wandered into a cult!

That said, there were photographic opportunities galore. My album of the day is here


On the way back, the group on our bus were singing along to The Lonely Goatherd, while tossing around a toy goat. They were having a great time and it was noisy. Babicka and I weren't joining in, but I was quietly chuckling to myself at the absurdity of the situation. It would require advances in quantum physics to measure my level of interest in The Sound of Music and yet there I was among super-fans. At this point my phone rang.

The call was from Miss P, the Elder. We mostly communicate by text, so I was a bit worried there was a problem. She could hardly make herself heard over the yodelling. I explained what was going on and she laughed. Then she told me her news. She's pregnant and I can expect to be a grandfather in December. I think she was surprised by the intensity of my reaction. Through tears of joy, I managed to tell her that this was the best news ever; that I was delighted for her and that I would try to be a good grandad. She sent me a copy of the 12 week scan and there on my phone – absolutely clear – was my first grandchild.

Salzburg became a special place for me today. God help me, The Lonely Goatherd became a special song for me. It was a wonderful moment and the surreal circumstances of the call are already richly comical in retrospect.

This clearly required a celebration. When we got back to town, we skipped the final part of the tour in the Mirabell Gardens. We'd been there in the morning anyway. We walked to the Stein Hotel in the Old Town, which has a rooftop terrace with views of the city. It had been recommended to us by one of Babicka's friends and we'd had a late night drink there last night –  inside because of the pouring rain. Today we sat outside in warm sunshine and enjoyed the views of the city as we drank our champagne. Life never felt better.

Tomorrow we drive to our next stop on the shores of Lake Garda, getting ever closer to Babicka's first meeting with her new granddaughter. She read my blog for the first time yesterday and didn't at first appreciate her nickname. She threatened to post a comment calling me dědeček (grandfather). I don't care if she does! It's a role I've long wanted, but had given up hope. All I can say now is;

Layee odl, layee odl layee-oo



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Congratulations on 'pending' grandfather status :-)


Many congratulations on your wonderful news


Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee
A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be.

OK - Julie's other musical - but hey!

Heartiest congratulations all round.



I said I was hoping for better news as I read on... I wasn't expecting that!


Congratulations to your daughter and felicitations to you. Will you be taking up knitting now?

Rev. Spooner


Many congratulations Miss P (tE) and parther - and, of course, dědeček Tom whose joy comes through clear.

"What a duet for a girl and goatherd..."

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