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Aug 10, 2000

Memories of Maastricht 2008 and Touring Holland With Ineke

Personal Memories About Touring in Holland With Fan Friends.
From June 26th ~ July 7th 2008, Including André Concerts in Amsterdam and Maastricht ~ by Ineke

Thursday June 26th: Our American friends arrived at Amsterdam Airport. Ruud and I went to Schiphol Airport to welcome them to Holland. It was a surprise, we did not tell them. Doug and JoAnn arrived first that day and we found them. Ruth and Jim Morgan and Sue Berry and Betty Bixby arrived a little bit later with the same plane, but unfortunately we missed them! We called them by cell phone and they were already in the train on their way to Amsterdam. A few hours later John and Bobbie landed and we caught them. Doug had been very ill in the past few months. He brought a scooter with him, to help him with the walking distances. After we helped them into the bus and train, they continued their trip to the hotel in Amsterdam. We drove back to The Hague (that is about an hour's drive from the airport). Our schedule for the next day was: the town of Hoorn with the original Red Rose Café.

Friday June 27th: Sonja (who stayed with her mother in The Hague) travelled with us today by train from The Hague to Amsterdam. We picked up our friends from the hotel breakfast table and together we travelled from Amsterdam to Hoorn, which is a 45 minutes ride by train, through real Dutch landscape: flat low grass fields and cows. We were a group of 12 persons. Beate Gündler (Germany) joined us for the trip. Doug drove his scooter. From the train station in Hoorn to the Red Rose Café (near the harbor) is a half hour walk, through a very nice historic town. The owners of the café knew we were coming; they had reserved our seats for lunch. Real Dutch café food: "broodje bal", "broodje kroket", "sateh". (roll meatball, roll croquette, kebab). Of course the André version of the world famous song was played and we sang along. Worldwide there are more than 200 versions of the song and the café had about 120. Some years ago André and the JSO had visited the café to meet the composer Pierre Kartner (artist name: Father Abraham) and the photo collage is hanging on the wall. Afterwards we went back to Amsterdam again. For dinner we had the typical Dutch (Indonesian) "rijsttafel" (rice table) with lots of small dishes. This was also a new experience for the Americans. Sonja with Ruud and I travelled back to The Hague that night.

Saturday June 28th: The day of our concert tickets for the "Romantic Viennese Night" in the Amsterdam ArenA (soccer stadium). While our friends were roaming around in Amsterdam, (amazed about passing a sex museum, a condom shop (as far as I know it is the only one in entire Holland!), an enormous mass of construction works (a metro/ underground was to be built) and eating "patat met mayonaise" (big French fries with mayonaise)), Sonja with Ruud and I picked up Anne Buch (Denmark) from the airport on our way to Amsterdam. All together we took the train again, to the Amsterdam ArenA, which is located in the suburbs of Amsterdam. In the meantime Al Girard (Canada), who also stayed in a hotel in Amsterdam, had found us and travelled with us. In the soccer stadium we also met Arie Bussemaker and Elke Bliefering (from the German fan website). The ArenA is world famous for its bad acoustics but of course….. André solved that problem. His crew put draperies against the skylights and except for the echo when he was speaking, the music sounded all right. The show was spectacular as usual. They had to shrink the palace a bit, for Schönbrunn in full glory did not fit in the length of the ArenA! André told us that he requested the management to enlarge the stadium for his concert, but they replied to him him to make the castle smaller! André joked: Dutch tightwads! The European and world champions' figure skating team: Aljona and Robin, skated to the Titanic song in Amsterdam. André performed two nights in the Arena for 25.000 people each night. We already had experienced the concert/show in Vienna in 2006 and in Toronto in 2007. But every time it is marvelous! I waved the Amsterdam flag, for I was born in Amsterdam! That night we stayed at the hotel in Amsterdam.

Sunday, June 29: After breakfast everybody departed to follow their personal itinerary. John and Bobbie went to friends and family in Holland. Sue and Betty travelled straight to Maastricht. Doug and JoAnn went sightseeing in Cologne, Germany. Sonja, Anne, Ruth and Jim travelled with us to our hometown The Hague. As we live in small houses in Holland (compared to the Americans houses) and we only have one guest bed, Anne stayed in our house, while Ruth and Jim stayed in a hotel in the center of The Hague, near the government buildings of the "Binnenhof (Inner Court) and Knight's Hall". Sonja stays with her mother.


Monday, June 30: I created a few trips in the area around The Hague. Today on the program: The 19 historic windmills in the village of Kinderdijk. The sun was shining; we took a boat trip along the mills and visited one mill. In the 18th century these windmills drained the low lands. Nowadays big engines have taken over the job. Kinderdijk is a wonderful place to see how Holland was about 300 years ago. There are still several families living in the mills, or in the houses next to the mills.
On the way back home, we visited one of the storm surge barriers, the "Maeslantkering". After the big flood disaster in 1953, a few storm surge barriers were built. They are wonders of technique. Big arms can close off the waterways, to protect the country against flooding. Holland seems to have a national alarm clock. When the water level rises three meters, the alarm goes off and the engineers close the storm surge barriers, to keep the wild sea out. Recently they had to do that in November 2007!! I can assure you: that is exciting!!
Entering the city The Hague, we made a short visit to my daughter’s riding school and stables on the outskirts of the city. Irene and her partner run a big riding school. Irene has her own private horse, and in May a new foal was born. André fans are animal lovers, so we felt so happy to see the foal merrily running in the green pasture, next to her mother. Wonderful!
Dinner at Scheveningen: the beach resort of The Hague. We walked up and down the Pier, saw the bungee jumping and the kite surfing on the North Sea and we had dinner on the outside terrace of a beach pavilion. Still sunny weather in Holland! How lucky we can be!

Tuesday, July 1st: Today the town of Delft is on the program. But first we had to visit Museum the "Mauritshuis", to see the original famous painting of the "girl with the pearl earring", painted by Johannes Vermeer. This painting was elected by the Dutch people as best painting by a Dutch painter, ever. Johannes Vermeer was born in Delft. After the Museum, we visited the government buildings (house of parliament) and the Knight’s Hall, in The Hague. The oldest part was built in the 13th century as a hunting lodge for the noblemen. Delft is another nice historic Dutch town, with canals and bridges. We had lunch on a boat terrace on a canal. No, not sailing, the boat is just part of a restaurant, in use as an outdoor café. Back in The Hague, Ruud prepared dinner in our home. He even served the courses with a Ratatouille cook’s hat from the Disney movie!



Wednesday, July 2nd: Exploring The Hague today. During our city walk we happened to see the new ambassador of Columbia, visiting Queen Beatrix in her palace office (Noordeinde), to give her his credentials. I heard about it, but I had never seen it myself and I live in The Hague for over 40 years!! It happens on Wednesday mornings, when a new ambassador starts his job. We were so lucky to see this ceremony with music, horses, carriages and colorful historic costumes. Yes, this is the royal city of The Hague!! Our American friends said that The Hague was a more relaxed city than the hectic city of Amsterdam.
Next we climbed 321 steps to the carillon in the tower of the St. Jacobs Church. Our female city carillonneur played American folksongs like Yankee Doodle and Oh Suzanna, in honor of our American guests. We were even allowed to go through the hatch to the bells, so we were almost with our heads into the bells. What a sound!! After the carillon we visited historic almshouses from the 17th century and we ended up in the liquor museum, tasting all kinds of liquor and Italian snacks. You know what I tasted? Bridal tears! That is white liquor with pieces of gold in it! We asked what happens, swallowing gold, but the lady said: "Well, it comes out on the normal way again…." So the next day we could start gold digging!
That night we packed our stuff, went to bed early, for tomorrow we take off to Maastricht!!



Thursday, July 3rd: In three hours, Ruud, Sonja, Anne and I, drove by car to Maastricht. Maastricht was an adventure from beginning to end. In consulting with the hotel manager of Hotel DuCasque and the foundation "Make a wish", Gemma and Nand (Belgium) gave up their balcony room on the Vrijthof site, for a seriously ill man, who hadn’t been out in nine years. It was his wish to attend an André concert, but it was impossible for him to be among the audience. So we were happy to co-operate and Gemma and Nand put the room and the balcony at their disposal for the Saturday night.
We bought a few boxes of Maastricht Riesling wine at the Nekum Hoeve and Sue put her first steps on Belgium ground. She could say she had been in Belgium now! She loved the Limburg countryside. Ruud and Jim fixed the orange banners on the façade of the hotel and we had dinner at Gauchos, downstairs. To our surprise we heard about the dress rehearsal that night. The gates were opened and the audience was allowed in for free. André did not play the entire program and often he stopped after the start of a piece of music. He said that was reasonable, since we had not paid! He spoke in German language, because the concert will be broadcast in Germany on TV first and André wanted to speak in his own Maastricht dialect during the normal concerts. It was funny to see him at work, talking to Pit Weyrich (the German director) and to the sound crew. I bet Marjorie was in the rear with pen and paper, writing down all the details…. We were enchanted by the variety of the music pieces.

Friday, July 4th: American Independence Day. The Americans wore clothes in the colors of their flag. At 5 PM we had to be in Café Charlemagne for the fan dinner. For 2008 we rented the entire first floor and the cook made a hot and cold buffet for 64 persons, the utmost maximum for that room. We had eight different nationalities: 21 USA, 17 Dutch, 6 Australians, 6 Danes, 4 Canadians, 4 Germans, 4 Belgians, and 2 English. Three persons did not show up. You should have heard the sound over there! Like a full henhouse. It was our third time in Charlemagne and we are still very welcome as a group. But we fear we have outgrown our space there! Last year we had 44 fans, this year 64, and how many more fans next year?? We left the restaurant at 8 PM, in time for the first concert, for those with concert tickets. Ruud and I invited guests to our hotel room and we watched the concert from our roof apartment. What a view! The best view for the light show, the special effects and the fireworks. The room costs us a fortune per night, but we think it is worth every penny. After Maastricht we are broke, but very happy! What can I say about the concert? I cannot find enough words in English. Awesome, breathtaking, impressive, goose bumps, shivers. WOW, what a concert! Every concert we think André has reached the top of the mountain and he cannot do any better….. But he does! It is unbelievable. What a man, what an orchestra, what music. End of the concert: 00.30 AM. In bed: never before 2 AM, to let the adrenaline subside!


Saturday, July 5: Fan Picnic in the City Park at noon. Same spot every year, opposite the ancient bastion "Vijf Koppen" and the big fountain. About 70 fans met each other. Also from Japan! They had printed out our Maastricht walks to discover the town!! The Japanese lady (Mihoko) was at the concert that evening, wearing her traditional Japanese Kimono, having a fan in her hand and an André-scarf around her neck. Every new fan gets a warm welcome. We feel like a big happy family. Thousands of pictures were taken. Again a sunny day and the fans stayed at the park from 12 till about 3 PM. In Maastricht we met Vilma and Tony Smith, from Sydney, for the first time. Half a year ago Vilma invited us to stay at her house and attend the Sydney concerts in November 2008 together. She did not even know us at that time! We accepted and booked the flights to Sydney. We have never before been to Australia. In Maastricht we met and felt like soul mates, so we very much look forward to that trip. André, how is it possible, we go to Australia!!!
In the late afternoon rain started to pour and we feared the worse for the concert. André's crew laid emergency ponchos on every seat. What a pity for the fans, for the recording, for the DVD! But…… a miracle happened! At 8.15 PM the rain stopped and it stayed dry all night. Thank you Clara, you are the greatest of all saints!! The highlights of the concert are: Conquest of Paradise (composed by Vangelis for the movie 1492 (Columbus discovered America)). The 150+ men from the Maastrichter Staar with their torches, oh my goodness, I cannot find the right words….. Also very impressive is the Russian song about the Twelve Robbers, sung by Bär Schellings, the soloist of the choir. Hilarious was Mirusia with the kangaroo song and the men's choir hopping behind her! Mirusia sang the refrain of the song in Dutch. That was a surprise! It is about a kangaroo mother, who is looking for her kangaroo child! Some Australians told me they hate that song, but….. as soon as they have seen this version, they will love it!! The guests that were in our room (while we were on the square) loved the concert too.

Sunday, July 6: Just a simple stroll through the town, listening to Frank’s carillon concert on the Market Place (bric and brac, antiques and flea market), having a beer on a terrace. We found the shop window with the violin amidst the ladies lingerie; we saw the seats on the Saint Amors square and the big screen. Maastricht was crowded but still relaxed. The daily sound checks at 5 PM are also very interesting. That night during the concert, we looked down from our room window. We saw the Gauchos crew beneath, doing the hopping kangaroo conga line. Vilma hopped in between them with her Australian flag! She had the time of her life! What a party!

Monday, July 7:
Tearing down the banners and a three hours drive back
home. What a party that was! We are exhausted and we need at least a week to recuperate. Who cares? The memories stay forever. The hotel manager told us he liked our banners very much and I already have his permission to place banners on the hotel the next year!



2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a magnificent report, Ineke. I regret that we couldn't make it to Amsterdam for the super concerts, the tours and all the fun. But Andre says he's going back next year. It was (almost) enough, however, to be in Maastricht for the long weekend. Lucky me. Three years running.
Thank you so much for the super report and it was great to see you and Ruud again. And thanks for all you both do for us.
[And so much appreciation to you, Sue, for posting.]

Laurie

Anonymous said...

What a pleasure to read your report Ineke. When reading it,I felt I was experiencing every word of action live and hopefully I will. Awesome! Thanks so much and Sue fantastic, thank you!

Martha

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Pierre and André September 30, 2016 Maastricht

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Photo Taken at Mexico City Concert ~ September 2013

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"Hello to all my fans on The Harmony Parlor!"

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