Maastricht 2014

Our Story, Page 2

On Tuesday July 15th, 35 fans showed up for the combined boat-bus trip with coffee and vlaai. The captain sailed the usual route but gave us a bonus. He treated our group of André fans by sailing past André's castle, the cement factory ENCI, up to Slavante and Zonnenberg. Thank you captain, it was much appreciated! Our Australian friend Liz Baker even took over the steering wheel for while!

Shipping company Stiphout for boat- and bus trips (www.stiphout.nl): Maaspromenade 58, Maastricht. Photo: Ruud and Ludo Mesters, manager Stiphout trips (and our fan dinner).

On Wednesday and Thursday we had time to explore Maastricht and the surrounding region. Some fans took the bus and taxi to Vaals, the three-country point and highest "mountain" of the Netherlands. Other fans went to the locks of Lanayen, the American war cemetery Margraten, or took the train to the town of Hoorn, which is quite a day trip from Maastricht: the return trip takes 8 hours by train! And all of this just to meet Jan and Zwaan, owners of the real Red Rose Café ('t Schippershuis) in Hoorn.

Other fans had bad experiences during their stay in the Netherlands: a lost suitcase at Schiphol Airport, an elderly couple was robbed at Utrecht Central Station by three East European gangsters, two fans became victims of pickpockets on the Maastricht market, one spent the concert days in the Maastricht hospital, and an automatic teller machine swallowed a credit card……

That night we met more fan-friends from Denmark and Norway; and we were so happy to encounter Vilma and Tony Smith again. In 2008, we spent a few days of our Australian holiday at their house and attended two concerts with them and their friends in Sydney. We cherish those memories. It was so nice to meet them again. The friendships endure, e.g. a Brazilian fan will be joining a Romanian fan at her house in Romania for a few days’ holiday, right after the concerts. It is amazing to see the connection between all the fans from around the world.

Then, out of the blue, we received a shocking message about a second crash an of Air Malaysia flight. The plane with almost 300 people was shot down over the Ukraine. We immediately thought of some Australian fan-friends that might have been on it, on their way back home. They had attended the concerts, the fan dinner, the picnic and the Lift-Off concert. The next day we received confirmation that Susan and Howard Horder were among the victims. We were devastated. Such a nice couple; we cannot believe it is true. The fans are mourning… R.I.P. dear Susan and Howard. We posted an "In Memoriam" on our website, we'll burn candles and our thoughts are with them and all the other victims of the crash (among them almost 200 Dutch people). Words cannot express our feelings.

Friday July 18th – the start of the third weekend's concerts. But it won't be the same. André posted words of condolence on his big screens before the start of the concert and during the intermission; but, nevertheless, he performed a ‘normal’ concert.

The 11.000 people on the square and terraces came from all over the world to celebrate his 10 years jubilee on the Vrijthof…… He could not disappoint them. Life is hard.

Saturday July 19th – the third picnic in the city park. We estimate that, once again, about 70 fans attended the gathering. It was a very hot day, unusual for the Netherlands. By the time Al Girard took the group photo, many fans had already left, due to the heat. Our documentary-maker was there again to interview fans, as was another lady doing research about the André phenomenon. We have been organizing fan events for 10 years and no one ever noticed (except for the fans of course) and now we are suddenly in the limelight.

In the meantime we had been approached by a producer of documentaries, who intends to make a film on why people from all over the world like to travel to Maastricht to see André Rieu. This filmmaker interviewed fans during the fan picnic and at Gauchos terrace (just the preliminary interviews, no camera yet). We also received a request from another TV Channel, which we rejected. We did not like their program about fans last year! But we have confidence that filmmaker Hans will create a nice documentary of all fan events and friendships. It will probably take until 2016/17 for the documentary to become a reality.

We decided to use the VIP tickets from the Tourist Office and go underground. It was a very hot day, but underground it was nice and cool. We visited the crypt of the Saint Servaas basilica, the spooky cellars underneath the former Minderbroeders church, which at a later stage were used as a prison; however, the building now belongs to the Maastricht University. We also went into the cave system of the Military Bastion, Waldeck. Well, what shall we say about the sounds underneath?

Ruud and I agreed that we definitely prefer Rieu's sounds!

Red Rose Café in Hoorn.

We attended the concert on the square for the second time and were very happy that Mireille Jourdan from France could join us, because some weeks ago she had to cancel the concerts due to severe knee problems. But now she managed to travel to Maastricht for the last two concerts, with the assistance of a good fan-friend. The heat wave continued. Surprisingly, André announced that he would take off his jacket and also invited all JSO- and choir members to do the same. The orchestra played The Stripper and then the males were all without jackets, which André let them demonstrate to the audience by asking them to rise. Then he let the ladies rise and said: “You may take off your dresses…” The audience and the orchestra members had much fun and I love his sense of humor! This will probably be the first and only time ever that André performed without his Strauss jacket. It makes the images and the short video very unique. Ruud and I were interested to see the transmitters and wires on his lower back. Normally you cannot see this. Ruud took a photo, zoomed in on the transmitters (he is a tech freak) – and did the photo cause a stir on Facebook! The ladies did not even notice the transmitters!!! They tended to focus on something else. The photo scored over 150 “likes” and 200 naughty comments on Facebook!

Sunday July 20th - last day of the concert series and then André and the orchestra can enjoy a well-deserved holiday. During the day Ruud and I visited the Bonnefanten Museum dedicated to religious- and modern art. The weather was milder and André and JSO performed the last concert with their jackets. We enjoyed the last concert with a dinner arrangement at Gauchos. Immediately after the concert concluded, the technical crew started to remove the seats and equipment. The team worked through the night.

When we woke up half of the Rialto Bridge and Doges Palace were gone.

Then it was time to say goodbye to our friends. We all departed on Monday morning.  We removed the banners from the DuCasque façade and drove back to The Hague.

Hope to see you all next year!


July 23 - 26  2014.

On July 23rd, the first forty dead bodies from the disaster of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, arrived from Ukraine to the Netherlands for identification. The Netherlands gave a respectful and impressive tribute to the victims. The country is mourning.

July 23rd is announced by the Dutch government as a Day of National Grief.

The next three days more bodies were flown in by Dutch and Australian planes. They were welcomed to the Netherlands by the same respectful and impressive tribute.

May they rest in peace.

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Translation by Ineke, edited by Entia. Thank you Entia!