Vienna: In the Park

All summer, Vienna holds a free Film Festival in the Park behind its city hall (“Rathaus”).

Dozens of food stands snake around the park – in the center high, and low, tables where people eat their dinners. On plates with real silverware. And beverages in glasses. Filmgoers leave their dishes and cutlery when they’re done. Young women and men then bus the tables.

Think about it: summer jobs for Vienna’s young people – no need to recycle. Of course, it requires a responsible crowd.

The Festival is part State Fair, part “drive-in” movie without cars. The food runs the gamut. Spaetzle, California food (fried avocado stands out in my memory). Wiener schnitzel. Tacos. Sausages. Lots of sausages. Fries, crazy chips, potato wedges. Alcohol, beer, Aperol (don’t get the fascination with that drink). Ice cream, pastries, cookies.

One night, I had what they called a “veggie burger”. It was a slice of tofu, crispy-fried on the grill. served in a perfect soft/doughy/crusty roll, and topped with tomato, cucumber and pesto. I had the crazy chips with that. It was delicious!

Though this is veering pretty closely to Janet Eats territory – I’m keeping it right here, thank you. Because what this film festival ended up being for me was my video entertainment for a couple of nights. Some visitors to Vienna – who aren’t going out for music or dance – might stay in their hotel rooms and watch television.

The Rathausplatz is about a five-minute walk from where I was staying. It immediately became my go-to nightly diversion.

One night I saw Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss. It was filmed at the Vienna State Opera House fifteen years ago.

The other night’s entertainment was a filmed concert by Brazilian super star Gilberto Gil, recorded in 2010 at an artists retreat in Rio de Janeiro.

All the filmed performances this summer were projected on a giant screen with the monumental 19th Century City Hall as a backdrop.

Better than American reruns on television, dubbed in Austrian, that’s for sure.






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