The Sound of Music’s Sweet Salzburg

The Sound of MusicAfter watching an enthralling rendition of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical, The Sound of Music, in Stratford last weekend, it occurred to me thatAustria I’ve never written a post about Salzburg, Austria, which is the idyllic setting for this immortal tale of love based on the memoirs of Baroness Maria Von Trapp.  Reboarding the Sound of MusicAlan and I visited Salzburg while on a river cruise of the beautiful Blue Danube aboard (can you imagine?) a lovely riverboat named The Sound of Music!    🙂   Salzburg AlpsSalzburg is on the border of Germany,  nestled in the foothills of the Alps Mullner Kirche. Salzburg along the Salzach River, Man on Golden Globe. Salzburg and it’s actually the fourth largest city in Austria…a thriving, modern metropolis.Climbing up the Salzburg Fortress However, their “Old Town” city center is still romantically quaint. Salzburg Architecture It’s a UNESCO Heritage site filled with filled with baroque architecture, Salzburg Christmas Decorations and even in the chill of November, it was bright… with Christmas decorations! Sacher Hotel. Salzburg copySalzburg is probably best known to AmericansGardens of Mirabell Palaceas the backdrop for The Sound of Music,Gertraudenkapelle. Salzburg and we visited some of the favorite sites from the movie, Sound of Music. Where children were playing such as the gardens where the children played Abbey where VonTrapps hid. Salzburg and the cemetery where the Von Trapps hid from the Nazis.Christian Doppler Plaque However, Salzburg is also famous as the birthplace of Christian Doppler
(physicist who first described the “Doppler effect”) Mozart's Home. Salzburg and Wolfgang Mozart, who to this day remains one of the world’s
most prolific and enduringly popular classical composers. Mozart Ball. Mozartkugel In fact, Mozart is such an icon in Austria that you can buy Mozartkugel
(“Mozart Balls”…dark chocolate, marzipan, and nougat)
as easily as you can buy a Tim Horton doughnut in Canada!Inside St. Peter's Basilica. Salzburg One of the highlights of our day was stopping to pray
at the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica Alan at lunch. St. Peter's Abbey and then enjoying an incredible luncheon at the famous St. Peter’ Stiftskeller, St. Peter Stiftskeller. 1200 years old!where they’ve been lavishing hospitality on people for over 1,200 years!  St.Peter's 803 ADActually, it’s the world’s oldest restaurant, established in 803 AD,  Nockerl which is more than 1,000 years older than America’s
Ye Olde Union Oyster House in Boston (just to put things in perspective). Cafe Sacher Yet another highlight was teatime at the world-famous Sacher Hotel, Kathi eating Sacher Torte at Sacher Hotel where I couldn’t resist trying a world-class “Sacher torte”Apple Strudel (although Alan couldn’t resist the world-class apple strudel…
second only to our daughter-in-law Gerlinde’s!) Salzach River. Salzburg Makartsteg Just outside the Sacher Hotel is the Salzburg Makartsteg, which spans the Salzach River and is lined with lockets to commemorate great loves. Locks on Salzach River Bridge Sadly, Alan and I hadn’t brought along a locket, but as I examined these cherished treasures, I couldn’t help but think of Sister Maria. Abbey in Salzburg Did you know that she really wasn’t in love with Georg when she married him? Salzburg FortressBeneath the gauze of Hollywood romance Mirabell Palacewas a woman who married out of a sense of duty. Birds flocking in Salzburg She was angry with God on her wedding day, but later wrote in her memoirs: Salzburg from the Fortress “I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after.” Roses at Mirabell Palace I think that’s  astounding…and an even happier endingFustung Hohensalzburg(given the reality of her situation) than what’s portrayed in the musical. Gardens outside Sacher Hotel. Salzburg, Austria I also think Maria’s testimony holds out hope
to anyone who’s struggling in their marriage. Roses at St. Peter's AbbeyGod can bless perseverance with true love. For anyone who’s willing! Sound of Music Lake near SalzburgNow the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart,
and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5).

P.S.—Someone who read this pointed out to me that today is Julie Andrews’ 80th birthday…so it’s an especially good day to commemorate this love story!  🙂

Edinburgh, Scotland: on The Fringe

Well, we eventually had to leave the beautiful “Emerald Isle” & flew via Ryan Air(great deals on flights in Europe) on to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I had spent awonderfully happy summer doing mission work back in 1972. Edinburgh is abustling city with nearly a half a million inhabitants. It’s the second largest city in Scotland and the seventh largest in the U.K. It was a major historical center of the Enlightenment and was known as the “Athens of the North.” Both the Old Town and the New Town have become UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of their unique beauty and charm. In fact, there are some 4,500 buildings listed on their national register!  Today, Edinburgh is Scotland’s political and cultural center, and although we visited in May (which is a great time), I would definitely consider coming for the Military Tattoo in August (if you can get tickets…40 years ago it wasn’t hard, but now the tickets sell out way in advance)! Also in August “The Fringe” occurs, the world’s largest arts festival, sprawling all over the city, especially down the Royal Mile, and boasting almost 2700 shows including over 1,400 world premieres and over 600 free! (Choose with care.) 🙂 We arrived too early on a Sunday morning to check into our apartment, andso we chose the only reasonable alternative…a great comfort breakfast! From my months of sharing the gospel with folks all over the city, I felt at home on the the Royal Mile and Princes Street, and so we parked and began a walking tour.Our first event was to enjoy a worship service at one of the many area churches.Even the evangelical services are conducted in magnificent buildings with gorgeous interiors and inspiring music. After a refreshing service, we continuedup the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle, built at the top of volcanic Castle Rock.This area hosts the Military Tattoo & has become a national symbol of Scotland.Due to the great views and museums, it’s Scotland’s top tourist attraction. Beingvery tired by this time, we stopped for a wonderful Indian lunch and decided tosimply meander through the interesting fabric mill and enjoy the shops rather than tour museums or even their delightful zoo and botanical gardens. We weremore than ready for a nap when it was time to check in and were amazed at thegleaming apartment (including even a laundry room) that we had found online for less than the price of most regular rooms in capital cities around the world!Thus revived, we headed out to enjoy views of Holyrood Palace and the gorgeousnatural beauty surrounding Edinburgh. I remember back in 1972 thinking that some day I wanted to bring Alan back to see Edinburgh and the wild North Sea.Thank you, Lord, for allowing me such a great privilege! Following God on the upward climb has been much more challenging than I ever could have imagined, but still, I’m thankful every day for the gift of life, for our wondrous world, andfor a God who loves us and is willing to guide us home to heaven.

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

“There is not a heart but has it moments of longing, yearning for something better, nobler, holier than it knows now.”  —Henry Ward Beecher

Higher Ground  (by Johnson Oatman)

“I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
‘Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.’

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

“I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till Heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s table land,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”