Nancy’s Dream Vacation Pt. 1


It was no surprise in the summer of 97,  to those who knew  Nancy Willson Gokey, when she announced  her  and good friend Monica Johnson,  a Sonora school teacher,  had booked a two week dream vacation to the portals of the Austria Alp’s,  the picturesque Sound of Music town of Salzburg Austria,  and from the majestic Alp’s, the two would journey to Egypt, the pyramids, the Sinai and the shores of the Mediterranean.


July 11th,   Nancy and Monica boarding a SFO British Airline 747 at 6:20 p.m.  for the 10 hour 10 minute nonstop flight to London.  Arriving at Heathrow Airdrome at 12:30 p.m. Greenwich mean time on the 12th,  an eight hour time difference.    The two having a 4 ½ hour layover,  boarding a Lufthansa Airline Airbus 320 for the hour and a half flight to Frankfurt Germany.  The 9:50 p.m. one hour flight arriving at Salzburg’s W. A Mozart Airport.


From the Gablerbraeu, StarInn hotel..   Nancy and Monica  looking forward to exploring this culturally historic city.   Their tour itinerary having scheduled a Sound of Music dinner show,  a sound of music tour of the scenic movie landmarks,  and a sound of music evening Marionette Show.  With a  bountiful itinerary of other tours available, more than sufficient to  fill their four day stay.


The two starting their elucidative journey venturing to the 241 mile long Salzach river which flows into the Johann  Strauss  music acclaimed Danube.   Viewing Wolfgang Medias Mozart’s birthplace home on the river’s edge, and from the pedestrian river bridge,  able to behold the majestic Hohensalzburg Fortress in the distance.  Their walking tour taking them to the center of historic Salzburg.   The Residenz Brunnen fountain residing in the center of the old town square.


The square erected between 1656 to 1661, enclosed within the Salzburg Cathedral grounds,  founded by Saint Rupert in 774 on the remnants of a roman town.  The cathedral was rebuilt in 11 81 after a fire,  and  in the seventeenth century, rebuilt in the Baroque style under Prince/Bishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau.  the Salzburg Cathedral still contains the baptismal font in which composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized.   Continuing on to St. Peters Abbey,  the benedictine monastery and former cathedral, considered one of the oldest German speaking  monasteries.


The sentinel Hohensalzburg fortress, beckoning  from its vestige overlook.   Construction of the fortress beginning in 1077  and gradually expanding thru the centuries. The ring walls and towers being built in 1462 under Prince-Archbishop Burkhard  von Weißpriach II.  Starting in 1498, Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach installing the magnificent state apartments, a chapel and with the richly decorated golden hall,  indicates the fortress served the archbishops not only as a sanctuary in times of adversity, but as a home.  Nancy and Monica entering, the two  discovering  a treasure trove of the heirlooms, princely artifacts and magnificent rooms,  one could spend hours emulsified in the grandeur.


The evening found the two enjoying the sound of music dinner show at the Stieglkeller restaurant and gardens.  The vacationers enraptured by the local musical  presentation of the songs from the Rogers and Hammerstein 1959 play and 1965 movie, the Story of the von Trapp Family Singers.  An enlightening  video narrated by Maria von Trapp was viewed,  giving insight to some of the events and realities encountered in their exodus



he 9:30 morning  Sound of Music guided tour commencing, viewing the Mirabell Gardens and Pegasus Fountain, where Maria and the children danced in the movie.   A stop at the Leopoldskron Palace and Gardens  where the famous boating scene was filmed.   and  at the Herbert von Karajan Square with the famous “Horse Pond”, which dates back to the 17th century,  where the prince-archbishops’ stables used to wash off and groomed the parade horses.


Stopping at the Hellbrunn Palace,  behind the palace walls are some  60 hectares of artistically landscape gardens,  and the gazebo where Liesl and Franz sang to each other  the enduring song,  16 going on 17.   On to the Nonnberg Convent,   the Abbey is the oldest female convent north of the Alps, and the courtyard of the abbey is where the song “Maria” was staged.


The heart of the old city center is Residencz Square.  In the film, Maria crossed this square singing , “I have confidence”,  while on her way to the Trapp family home for the first time.    At the rock cliff  base of Mönchsberg  Mountain,  named after the Benedictine monks, the church caves overlooking Saint Peter’s Church and Cemetery, the cliff forming  the back wall of the church consecrated in 1178.   Saint Peter’s Church can be seen in the opening scene, where the military was searching for the von Trapps,  the family hiding behind the tombstones.


The two once again fulfilling a quest, a morning tour of the 500 year old  Salzbergwerk Dürrnberg underground salt mine located on the Dürrnberg plateau,  above the town of Hallein.    Disembarking from the gray line bus at the entrance to the mine,  the group provided protective coveralls for their personal attire before boarding the miners train, venturing them 1300 feet into the mountain.  Inside, instructions on mounting the impressive 138 foot wooden slide down to the grotto, and brine lake.  for many an exhilarating experience.  Once below, an informative presentation given of the salt extraction process,  the utilization of the addition of water, turning the salt into a brine and pumping it to the surface, where the water would be evaporated.  The domed underground area donned with emphasizing lighting, and a underground boating experience on the brine lake before the group exited the subterranean  cathedral .

There, coveralls returned,  the tour continuing in the 770 year old town of salt mine town of Hallein.  Nancy and Monica entering the pilgrimage church Maria Dürrnberg,  amazed at the pristine chapel and the numerous historic artifacts that they found to be characteristic of the inherent Austrian culture.  A return to Salzburg, the day’s journey coming to an conclusion.


In 1938, national socialist workers party secretary Bormann,  embraced the construction of  a tea-house on the 6217 Ft. Kehlstein mountain.  Bormann’s goal was to impress diplomats from all over the world, to witness what German engineers could accomplish.  the original name of the tea house was the “D” ,   referring to “Diplomats”,   Later commonly known as Kehlsteinhaus,   the Eagle’s Nest.  The engineering project, including a 11,000 square foot structure erected on the rocky promontory,  included a tunnel,  elevator and employed 3000 well paid Germans, Austrians and Italians.   It was completed in 13 months,  and presented to Chancellor Hitler in 1939 as a gift on his 50th birthday.



The morning eagle nest tour bus leaving at 9:00 a m,  an overcast drizzle greeting on their past thru of Berchisgaden,  continuing the four mile elevated drive to the eagles nest parking area and entrance tunnel.  The group entering the 430 foot tunneled entryway inside Kehlsteinhaus mountain.   arriving at a circular reception room to embark on the ornate brass and mirror walled elevator for the 400 foot ride up.


The two somewhat disappointed, the weather not cooperating, the world acclaimed majestic view from the eagles nest was somewhat obscured with low cloud overcast.  Inside experiencing the presence of a tea-house ,  but sensing an indelibly inscribed atmosphere of a detrimental history.  From the quaint town of Hallein the Gray Line motoring along the Kings Lake-Ache,  continuing to the Obersalzberg, traversing the scenic valleys below the ever towering Alp’s.  A final stop at Berchtisgaden  before returning to Salzburg.


The morning bidding a farewell to Salzburg,  Nancy and Monica boarding  a 1020 a.m. flight to Frankfurt,  then according a Lufthansa Airline Airbus 320  to London Heathrow, arriving at 2:00 in the afternoon.   checking in at the Nevern Hotel,  the two opt for a golden tours hop on, hop off,  bus tour to the Kensington Palace and Gardens.  The Estate made up of several buildings,  rental apartments to bloodline royalty and other members of state.   a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and  currently the official London residence of Diana, Princess of  Wales, sons William and Harry.  The two enjoying the exhibits and the pristine Gardens.



Their visiting time having elapsed, a Heathrow departure  having arrived, Nancy and Monica boarding an afternoon British Airlines 320, bidding a farewell to London,  their journey to continue,  Cairo and Egypt awaits.


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