It’s about the eighth year (consecutive, at that) I have looked forward to the first weekend in November when I travel to Charlottesville for the Virginia Film Festival. I still pledge first allegiance to my hometown’s own Riverrun International Film Festival. But granted, there is just something nice about a road trip and leaving your worries behind. And I have to confess, Charlottesville is a great destination.
The first three years I went (tagging along with some friends who had a much longer history of attending the event) we stayed in a guest house on 2nd Street. The first Saturday morning, I looked out the window when I woke up and saw some sort of foot race going on. The next year, I investigated to find out who was holding this race and jogged the route later in the day. And the years after that, I went ahead and registered for this event, the Shelter in Emergency 5K.
The race has been a good extra-curricular activity during the weekend otherwise focused on great films and dining. Arriving this year–even at the end of the first week of November–was a balmy Indian summer afternoon. The next morning rain had started that would eventually cool things down a bit. But the light rain did not affect the race and I completed the familiar course enjoying the accomplishment–but not breaking any records. There was a much better attendance this year than the last time, which was nice.
I returned to the inn, The Inn at Court Square (that we discovered by accident after my third year–we love it) and had breakfast. Not long after that I attended my first movie, Inspired to Ride, a documentary about a trans-American bike race. It was a great film and a nice way to start off the selections (which, in a film festival, can sometimes be hit or miss).
With the only other film I had selected for Saturday not until the evening, I whiled away the day on the wet pedestrian mall stopping in to a few interesting stores and having lunch with one of my travel mates at The Nook (my first time there and enjoying a great veggie burger). Afterwards we went over to the Second Street Gallery. They always having an interesting exhibit and so I make a point to visit at each festival.
The evening movie was at the Violet Crown, a new concept multi-plex that replaced the Regal and recently started in Austin and Santa Fe. Afterwards, dinner at Hamilton’s. It’s our most frequented restaurant but we have many favorites in the mall area.
Sunday the skies were clear and the temperatures had dropped, making it more seasonable. I got to see a film at the Paramount, a grand 1931 movie theater that got an $18 million renovation in 2004. Pizza for a late lunch and strolling about during the day. For a final film that evening, two of us will venture over to the UVA campus to see a documentary on Amtrak’s Empire Builder line that travels daily between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest.
We leave on Monday morning eager to return home after an enjoyable weekend. But we first are more than happy to reserve our place at the Inn a full year before the next one.