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Austria's Lake Country near Salzburg.  Photo from VBT.

Austria’s Lake Country near Salzburg. Photo from VBT.

The much-beloved film The Sound of Music, which was released in 1965 and won the Oscar for Best Picture that year, did most of its location shooting in and around the city of Salzburg, Austria.

It’s hard to imagine many baby boomers who don’t know the (somewhat fictionalized) story of how the musically inclined von Trapps — composed of would-be-nun-turned-nanny Maria (Julie Andrews), Baron von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), and a parcel of cute kids who could belt out catchy tunes like “Do-Re-Mi” — became a family and fled the Nazis in Austria for safe haven elsewhere.

After hiking over the mountains (in the movie, at least), they eventually made their way to the United States and became known as the Trapp Family Singers.

The gorgeous Austrian scenery, the infectious music by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Julie Andrews twirling on a mountaintop in the opening sequence, the unlikely love story between Maria and the Baron, and of course the adorable children all came together to create a movie classic, now celebrating its 50th anniversary.

What more appropriate occasion than to walk in the footsteps of the von Trapps this year?

Walking the same hills as Maria von Trapp. Photo from VBT.

Walking the same hills as Maria von Trapp. Photo from VBT.

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, based in Vermont, is offering a tour called Walking Austria, Germany & the Czech Republic: A Bohemian Rhapsody, that will take you to some of the same locations shown in the movie.

The tour starts in Salzburg, where you’ll walk along the shores of Lake Fuschl to the village of Fuschl, a popular resort for Salzburg residents. Then you’ll continue on foot to the village of St. Gilgen am Wolfgansee, which stars in one of the film’s opening shots.

On the following day, you’ll cruise Lake Wolfgang — as in Mozart, who was born in Salzburg — and then take a cog railway to the summit of Mount Schafberg, where you can twirl like Julie Andrews if you wish. (That opening twirl was actually shot in the nearby Bavarian Alps, but these hills are just as alive.)

You’ll have time to explore the beautiful area known as the Salkammergut Lake District, which is featured in the aerial scenes of the film’s opening sequence.

On a subsequent day, you’ll cross a pedestrian bridge and walk from Austria into Germany, presumably not chased by Nazis, then stroll through Bavarian forests to the Baroque city of Passau, located on the Danube.

The tour continues for three more days in Germany and the Czech Republic, where it ends in Prague. But since this is a Sound of Music tribute, I’ll stop there.  You can check out further details of the tour by going here.

One thing I like about this tour is that it allows for lots of flexibility. You have plenty of free time for optional longer walks if you wish — VBT  does the planning and gives you detailed daily directions and route maps to follow. But they also provide van support if you’d rather ride than walk on some occasions, and they provide walking poles, good for making your way over sometimes uneven terrain. Average daily mileage is 2-5 miles and average walking time is 2-5 hours per day.

An Austrian dance performance is included in the tour. Photo from VBT.

An Austrian dance performance is included in the tour. Photo from VBT.

Hotels are all arranged and some meals are included; lunch is usually on your own so you can walk at your own pace. Special guided walking tours, a performance of traditional Austrian dances, and train rides are also included.

The tours run from May to October 2015, with 10 departure dates, and start at $3,495, which includes international airfare.

If you want more time in Salzburg or Prague, there are optional two-night pre- and post-tour extensions available. If you choose extra time in Salzburg, you can seek out more locations depicted in the Sound of Music: Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria was a novice nun with her head in the clouds; Leopoldskron Castle, used as the lakeside terrace of the Trapp family home; and Mondsee Cathedral, where Maria and the Baron were married, among many others.

Salzburg’s Old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also figures prominently in the filming; you may recognize some of the locations used as backgrounds for Maria’s song “My Favorite Things.”

If The Sound of Music is one of your favorite things, you won’t want to miss it.

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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