Au Revoir Simone
Volksgarten, Rathauspark, 2009
A spring afternoon in the park with Annie, Erika and Heather from Au Revoir Simone – nothing seems more natural than having the charming Brooklyn-based trio spreading their dreamy electronic lo-fi keyboard pop in this gently blooming surrounding. Their warm and organic melodies enfold with the fresh breeze that swirls through the treetops and about the girls’ hairs when performing “Tell Me”. It is this breath of airiness and touchiness that slowly gets under your skin. Coated by Au Revoir Simone’s mellifluent sound that strikes the chord of melancholia, we nearly feel sheltered enough to forget about the crescendo wind in our backs. Yet to make sure that this bewitching recording will not be impaired by the wind, we are having a look-around, – Annie, Erika and Heather being addressed by two dancers of Beyoncé, who also use this sunny hours to take a stroll (on segways) till their next show -, and as it shall be, the girls make a beeline for some hideout in a little park close-by. In a playful matter of course they take up the vibrancy of this prosperous spring setting and keep captivating air and space with their comforting song “Take Me As I Am”.
Connecting Heldenplatz with Burgtheater, facing the Parliament, the Rathauspark and the Natural History Museum on the one side and Ballhausplatz on the other, this first-district park will unavoidably lie on your sightseeing-track. Tourists that want to see it all can continue their attentive stroll in the neat Volksgarten, watching out for the Theseus temple, the monument for Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary (well-known as “Sissi”) and for the playwright Franz Grillparzer, the Volksgartenpavillon (café and club) and its fountain and rosegarden. On warm and sunny days they might otherwise join the more laid-back people (not least students from the nearby University) chatting, reading, sunbathing on the lawn (as long as the city won’t introduce the Victorian “Keep off the grass!” again). The well-attended garden along the Ringstraße, constructed over the former city fortifications destroyed by Napoleon’s troops, opened its doors to the public in 1820.
Rathauspark is a surprisingly calm oasis of recreation surrounded by some of Vienna’s most popular historic buildings such as the eponymous Town Hall, the University, the Burgtheater and the Parliament. In the middle of all the lively and touristy huste and bustle, Rathauspark still provides a bit of separation through its big, shady trees that hardly allow a look on what goes on outside the park. Its 40,000 square meters are divided into two symmetrical parts by the busy Rathausplatz, a place for huge events such as the main fan zone during the EURO 2008 football championship, the annual Life Ball and the pre-Christmas Christkindlmarkt. Each of the two halves of Rathauspark has its own fountain and numerous memorials of Austrian artists and politicians. The park was designed by gardener Rudolf Siebeck (who also designed the Stadtpark) on a former parade-ground just outside of Vienna’s fortification wall. It opened to the public on July 14, 1873, the day when the foundation stone for the erection of the neo-gothic Town Hall was laid.