Summer has arrived, and it is in full throttle, although the weather has been less than cooperative lately. This past weekend, and despite the weather, the annual Straßenfest kicked off in our neighborhood on Friday and lasted way after closing time on Sunday night.

Usually, it would take an insider tip or a few wrong turns to wind up in the unassuming Freihausviertel neighborhood, where we live, which is a small slice of the fourth district of Vienna that is both centrally located and off the radar, There’s an easygoing, energetic vibe and a lost tourist, who acidentially makes it here, finds that they’ve finally figured out where the locals spend their time.

On Friday evening the obligatory Straßenfest benches lined the middle of the street, televisions adorned the walls (the World Cup is two weeks into its run) and people slowly filled the street. At some point at a late hour, a Hungarian band called “The Black Birds” — a brilliantly done Beatles cover band — had the entire street singing along.

Saturday we ended up with a “Kaffe Freund” sticker on our shirts at the Alte Kaffe, coffee roasters, where we enjoyed a young white wine instead of their usual dark and potent espresso. While chilling there, there was a street singer from Uruguay who caught our attention with his beautiful folk music. One could not miss him in a crowd, with much-to-short kakhi pants, enormous brown cowboy boots and a black rimmed hat with the colorful indigenous band that identified the tradition from where he comes.

His name is Pedro, and he said he doesn’t normally play anywhere else.

A memorable performance was Saturday night at around 11 pm; a last call band playing ingenious klezmer music (played by musicians called klezmorim), and I can still hear the clarinet in the back of my mind. A very talented band of five performing in front of Mormat on Mühlgasse.

As I am writing this it is Sunday late afternoon and I can hear the Abba cover band finish up a medley on a tiny stage in front of Point Of Sale Café, a corner location at Opergasse, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows make this airy café a regular plum spot for a lazy afternoon of people-watching. Earlier in the day we got two seats there, and listened to a delightful jazz brunch and later a latin samba number.

Sunday evening’s finale was the Brazilian singer Célia Maria, who got the people in the street dancing and cheering way past closing time. She performed on a small stage outside Cafe’ Amacord situated at a Rechte Wienzeile corner.

There were so many performances throughout the weekend however, so one cannot cover them all. I guess what really stood out for us was the music… oh, and the boule! See “almost empty glass” below.

boule

What was special about the Straßenfest, was that it was a party for all ages; children and adults laughing and dancing for three long days, and way into the night.

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