Un petit voyage

Salzburg view

I am not the world’s most adventurous traveler. My regular trips across the Atlantic are mostly due to a chance encounter with a Frenchman in a bar back in the last century. When we decided to make it permanent, I succumbed to the undeniable attractions of France. After all, what more romantic city in the world for a wedding than Paris?

Then came the big question: where to go for our honeymoon? My beaux-parents worked for Air France, and were eager to pull a few strings in order to send us to our dream destination. However, when exotic ideas like tropical islands and far off lands were tossed about, we were both less than enthusiastic. Husband because none of the options contained his preferred snowy mountain peaks; I being no fan of air travel and knowing we would soon be back on a plane to Canada for Christmas.

In my fledgling French, I tried to explain that we would be happy to stay in Europe for our honeymoon. Rather than travel half way around the world, could we not just go on un petit voyage? For some reason I never understood, my in-laws found this hilarious. “Tu veux faire un petit voyage?” Beau-père teased. My ‘petit voyage’ became a standing joke.

In the end they surprised us with the tickets. My heart fell when I saw the destination: Tahiti. A 20-hour flight from Paris via LA. But that is another story, and one I promise to tell soon. For this post, I want to tell you about the petit voyage that we finally took together last week, 30 years later.

Salzburg cathedral

Salzburg is famous for a few things, at least two of which draw masses of tourists each year. I had been there many years before, in another life, when my tour bus made a brief stop. I had fallen in love with the place and felt sure Zfrenchman would agree, given its spectacular alpine setting.

One of the things Salzburg is known for is, of course, salt. On my first visit, our group donned miners’ overalls and rode a train into the bowels of the earth to explore the salt mines and secret underground saline lake.

The other two things have to do with music. Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for The Sound of Music, two very different musical history notes that today compete for tourist dollars. We discovered that the locals venerate Mozart and loathe The Sound of Music. To find out why, we did what tourists do best and took a tour.


I should note that as a child The Sound of Music was my favourite movie. Julie Andrews was my hero, not only because she sang like a lark but because she always broke the rules. Between solving a problem like Maria and a Mary Poppins’s spoonful of sugar, I knew by heart every last note of her most famous Hollywood roles. Husband, being French, had never heard of either so we sat down and watched The Sound of Music before we left. To my surprise, he quite enjoyed it. Although why that surprised me I’m not sure. Between the music, the mountains and the struggle against the Nazis, what’s not to love?

Apparently the fact that Hollywood distorted the truth of the Trapp family singers is not particularly loved by the Austrian people. There are many examples; most notably, the family didn’t actually traipse across the Alps to Switzerland as they did at the end of the movie but simply boarded a train to Italy. And poor Maria Von Trapp only ever got $9,000 for what became the highest grossing film of that time.

unadjustednonraw_thumb_3883And while some of the songs from Rogers and Hammerstein’s hugely popular soundtrack still move me to tears, let’s be honest: it is not Mozart. The legacy of that particular musical genius is the true pride of Salzburg. Yet it is overshadowed by the Sound of Music tour buses that fill its streets as Americans and Brits, rather than pay homage to Mozart’s first piano in one of several museums, prefer to spend their money to see where Maria and Georg were married (by the way, this is the church).

Which will bring us back, not to do- a deer, but to our wedding. In honour of which, 30 years later, we enjoyed our petit voyage to Salzburg. We even took in a classical music concert in the famed Mirabell Palace. Mozart would have been proud.

And the best thing was, we didn’t have to fly. We took the train.

By the way, if you go, do try the famous chocolate Sacher torte at the hotel of the same name.

Sacher torte

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?



  1. francetaste · December 9, 2016

    This is kind of funny. When my husband and I got married, he wanted to go to Strasbourg (not the same as Salzburg, but…). I was like, well OK. It seemed too close and easy. I made inquiries and two days later we were on a plane to Kenya. He was a little stunned, but that sunshine was very welcome in December. I am aching to go back, though some of my favorite places are too dangerous at the moment.
    As for Salzburg, I love both Mozart and the Sound of Music. Totally agree with you on Julie Andrews, best singing actress ever! But Mozart stands up better to frequent listening.

    • MELewis · December 9, 2016

      That’s hilarious – we are opposites! That said, I’ve been longing for sunshine and warm sand lately….nothing would make me happier today than to revisit the waters of French Polynesia! As for Africa, you are clearly more adventurous than this timid traveler 😉

  2. Suzanne et Pierre · December 9, 2016

    We have also started to truly enjoyed short trips closer to home than before. We haven’t been overseas or in any exotic places for over a year. All of our recent trips have been road trips in the surrounding areas. We have discovered beautiful places which really reinforce the facts that you don’t have to go very far to find places to amaze & surprise you.

    • MELewis · December 9, 2016

      That is so true, Suzanne! Sometimes the short trips can be as much of a break (or even more) and you manage to get more out of them. And, judging from your recent photos, your cameras have indeed sought out some lovely locales close to home!

  3. weird weekends · December 9, 2016

    Great post (again)… My wife’s dream is to visit Hawaii… that is where she wanted to go on our honeymoon. We ended up going to Montana (Glacier National Park)… My father had a hotel there and gifted us a stay…

    • MELewis · December 9, 2016

      Thank you! We would certainly never have been able to afford that trip without free airfare, and even with some good deals on hotels it was so incredibly expensive we blew all our wedding gifts on the honeymoon! Montana sounds nice….but hopefully your wife will get her Hawaii trip one day soon!

  4. Katherine Wikoff · December 9, 2016

    Where would I travel? You make Salzburg sound like an excellent destination, and I love The Sound of Music, so . . . 😄

    I was just a small child when that film came out. My parents took me to see it in the theater, and I still can vividly recall crouching down fearfully between the row of seats to hide while the Nazis searched the convent tombs for the family!

    • MELewis · December 9, 2016

      LOL! When I rewatched the film recently I reacted just the same! Part of the fun in Salzburg was the visiting the cemetary where they showed the children hiding behind the tombstones. Truly chilling to imagine, but probably closer to the Hollywood version than the reality. 😉

  5. M. L. Kappa · December 9, 2016

    Your petit voyage sounds wonderful!

    • MELewis · December 9, 2016

      Indeed it was! Just what we wanted, right place and right time. Merci!

  6. zipfslaw1 · December 9, 2016

    30 years–that is BEYOND impressive! Congratulations.

    • MELewis · December 10, 2016

      Thank you! Considering how far we’ve come, I have to agree!

  7. davidprosser · December 10, 2016

    I quite fancy a trip to encompass all the antique markets of France but my dream is to visit the area here the Cathars lived.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • MELewis · December 10, 2016

      I had to google Cathars. So that would be around the Languedoc region? I could just see you kitted out like a crusader! 😉 Definitely worth a trip and you could probably find some antiques along the way. Lovely to hear from you, David. Huge hugs! xo

  8. Osyth · December 11, 2016

    When I was 8 years old and we were skiing in the Tyrol my father surprised us with a chauffeured Mercedes to Salzburg … I remember every nuance of that day and I would love to return. Like you, I fly more than I want to so for me I think, assuming that I was in France my petit vacances would be to Italy. I lived in Rome for a couple of years in the 80s, I know Milan well and Turin, Venice is captivating, Verona of course but I never travelled to Amalfi or Naples and my husband knows none of it (well a bit of Milan but only for a boffin conference and that doesn’t count) so my dream is to drive down one side round the toe and back up the other taking forays inland (which lets face it is never far in the lanky boot of Italy) to visit a few well chosen places. If that is too greedy then I’d choose Vienna simply to see the Lipizzaner’s dance at the Spanish riding school and imagine myself in another childhood fantasy as the heroine of the tv series ‘White Horses’.

    • phildange · December 11, 2016

      I did road trips around Italy and i discovered nature is beautiful all around, not only in famous regions but where I didn’t expect anything special . For instance in the very south, in the foot, I found with surprise mountains with firs, cedars and lakes . No tourists, except very few clever Italian couples with kids or not . This is only an example among many . Italy, like France, is an inexhaustible collection of natural beauties .

      • Osyth · December 11, 2016

        Phildange I am scooting over to your blog and will be in touch …. I am serious in my intent and any advice is hugely appreciated. What you speak of is exactly what I would hope to discover!

      • MELewis · December 11, 2016

        I do love it when this blog gets conversations going! 🙂

    • MELewis · December 11, 2016

      There is so much to experience in Italy. Love the lake district, skiing in Trentino, adore Venice and of course Tuscany. We finally made it south to the heel of the boot this year when friends did us the honour of inviting us to attend their wonderful Italian wedding. Memorable in every way! And now the Amalfi coast calls….I think that, like you, if I had to choose one country it might be Italy. But that’s the thing here in Europe: there are so many places and cultures and they are all so close! *Lived in Rome for a couple of years: another chapter I want to hear about!

      • phildange · December 11, 2016

        Did you use your south-east trip to have a glance at the “trulli” of Alberobello, known in the whole galaxy ?

      • Osyth · December 11, 2016

        Oh wow! That wedding sounds like bliss! If you need a companion for the Amalfi coast I could be that girl! Rome …. I should write about it …. particularly my run in with Harvey Keitel’s odious girlfriend of the time (or maybe that’s a story to share in a tête à tête on second thoughts 😉)

      • MELewis · December 12, 2016

        That could be quite the road trip, toi et moi, à la Ab Fab! 🙂

      • Osyth · December 12, 2016

        Exactly … I really think we should 😂

  9. midihideaways · December 12, 2016

    I might just be able to get to Salzburg between Christmas and New Year – I love that town!! Thanks for the tip off about the Sacher Torte, I think I went to Deml last time I was there. There are many trips I’d like to take around here – I’ve not yet visited most of the Cathar castles, and they aren’t even far away! I’ll be starting on my doorstep and most likely I’ll be blogging about it! 🙂

    • MELewis · December 12, 2016

      Salzburg at Christmas must be wonderful, I do hope you get to go. When we left they were hoping for snow. That’s all it would need to make the magic perfect! Looking forward to reading all about it!

      • midihideaways · December 14, 2016

        It’s been a long time since I went to Salzburg around Christmas time, but it was simply magical!

  10. Barbed Words · December 12, 2016

    Europe is great, isn’t it? Everything so close…and easy to put off visiting because ‘we can do it anytime!’ I love to discover places in the UK – I visited Northumberland a couple of years ago. It is stunning; full of beautiful beaches, castles and lovely villages. I recommend!

  11. Anna Trestain · December 16, 2016

    Great post. Love you writing style. Very entertaining. I’m fascinated by Japan and hope to travel there soon

    • MELewis · December 16, 2016

      Merci! Japan is an amazing destination and one I’d love to discover one day – hope you make it there soon!

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