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Jan 1, 2008

Alice In Toronto

Alice’s Toronto Diary
The breathtaking ANDRE RIEU concert. I need not describe how beautiful it was! I was sitting further back midway at level 200/300. The view of the whole stage set-up was spectacular (pic 04)! Just unbelievable! And the water fountains were not "Display Only". They worked!!

Dec 13
After checking in the Renaissance, my parents and I, together with my aunt and cousin, started to explore the "facilities" of the hotel. As we’re taking pictures in the lobby, a lady approached and kindly offered to take a picture for us. She asked if I was one of the "fans" (visiting the web often……) and I knew then she’s the mother (Cindie) with daughter Kori from Vancouver Island. Small world, we British Columbians meeting right at the lobby, right from the start. So I said we should take a picture all together!

There were more fans in the lobby then. I was happy to see Bobbie again and met her better half, John. Soon I saw Ruth and when I waved at her, there was some huge "screaming" from her. "Oh…!Oh…Oh…!" and we hugged each other. I met Bobbie and Ruth in October when they came to see André’s concert in Vancouver. It felt so good I could hug them again. I also recognized Sue and introduced myself, she remembered the last thing I wrote in the Parlor was "Oh My God, Oh My God, Oh My God! (huuuge laughter burst out …)
Soon, the hotel lobby was packed with fans and JSO members, the lovely Mirusia and Laura were among them. How nice to have 2 angels with me (Mirusia the "Angel" and Laura the "Engel", and we had a Charlie’s Angels picture taken (posted by Sue already) And there was Santa (Doug) who for some reason had mistaken me for another Alice. He thought he met me in Maastricht and insisted that someone was talking about an Alice (and it’s not Dan’s wife Alice). Oh! What the heck! What a great honour to have people thought they met me. Santa asked me to sit on his lap and so I happily sat down like a little girl and took a very nice picture (at least I thought so) without disclosing my double chin. What a nice Christmas gift from Santa! (pic 02). That same evening, Bela didn’t put on any new crocodile shoes, and I asked the beautiful Linda if she remembered me waving right in front of her at the Vancouver concert.
Although I had less than 2 hours of sleep the previous night, boy oh boy, I had the time of my life!
Dec 14
I had "dim-sum" for lunch with my relatives and when I went back to the hotel later, I saw someone just arrive at the hotel in her car! It’s Sonja!! I ran over to introduce myself and might have scared her a bit when I hugged her. So nice to see her with her healthy-looking mom and Cassandra. The little girl sitting at the back of the car waved at me gently like a lady.
Since my uncle had difficulty walking and might need a wheelchair when going to the Dec15th concert, I spent sometime exploring the best access to get into Rogers Centre. Most staff was helpful but they all gave me different suggestions. I was glad I found an indoor passage eventually, a bit complicated but no need to go outdoors at all. At 5pm, my parents and I went down to the restaurant to meet Lyndall and Robert from Australia, and Pat who invited the Aussies to the Toronto concerts. Pat and I were among the first 15 people to respond to Lyndall’s petition back in April. When Lyndall told me she’d be coming to Canada for the big concerts, we decided to have dinner, and that was about half a year ago. The lady who answered the phone at the Arriba Restaurant back then had no idea why I had to make reservations so early and asked me "What’s happening in December?" When we fans flocked to the city from all over the world, being right there at the hotel restaurant she had not a clue what kind of a humongous concert we’re talking about! When Lyndall and I finally met each other, we tried to hold our emotions and tears. Lyndall and I have the same birthday and we ordered the same entrée from the menu. I grabbed Ruth for a picture and I got a bagful of gifts from the Aussies.

After the concert, many fans and JSO crew members were having a good time in the lounge. I saw Courtney Woo, "the man with a cut on his leg". It’s easy for me to remember him as he’s the only Chinese I saw in JSO crew. We chat a little bit and when we were about to take a picture, Courtney joked about being not sure if he should tell his wife. I said "I don’t have a problem with that, it’s up to you", and so came the cute funny look on his face! Later in the night (or morning??), I said to Bobbie "Where else on earth would you find so many people (groupies) above 60 years old staying up so late in a lounge…Bobbie laughed so hard and suggested I post this on the guestbook, and Ruth said she must have broken her record (of staying up late past 2am). Just when I was leaving the lounge, someone "hello" me from behind. It was Laura Engel. How sweet of her to remember me. Laura was my favourite JSO choir girl (I especially like her part doing Blaze Away in New York Memories). Oh! What a nice final touch to the day!

Dec 15
I was introduced to Maggie in the lobby and was lucky that she got a spare of her well-known T-shirt for me. I joined the fans that were having fun taking pics with Suzan and Carla. They’re all so friendly. Later, as I went into the elevator, Suzan rushed in. I said "Come, Sisi, but I’m afraid your golden carriage won’t fit in." She laughed sweetly.

As Ruth, Jeannie and others started to get the dinner room set-up, I went up to my room to get the banner. My dad and I were in the elevator when Mr. Body Guard Johan came in. I said to him "Ahhh, you’re the most important person to André", and he replied with a smile and a humble tone "No!". He said goodbye to us when we’re walking out the elevator. He didn’t know we had to "transfer" to the same elevator at the side for our dinner, so I teased him by saying "We’re following you!!". Now, I got his attention. He asked curiously "Where are you going?" Still, he was so gentle by letting us enter the elevator first. I told him not to worry, we’re having a fans dinner in the meeting room level. We said goodbye again. When Johan needs not carry his "tough guy" image, he has his sweet side too.

At the fans dinner, we met more fans from different places. Cassandra was all dressed up like a little princess. We were having a great time but had to rush with our group photo before the concert began.
For months, I worried that my uncle would have hard time "staying fit" at the concert since he had a stroke earlier, had to carry a pouch for his prostate problem and still needed a walker, but everything turned out fine that night. He dressed up in suit with a pair of sneakers (pic 06) and we all had a marvelous memorable evening. (I found him already walking faster the next day!)
Dec 16
The snow was falling heavily the whole day and some 30 flights were cancelled. We were supposed to meet our relatives for dinner but thanks to the snow, most of us got stuck in the hotel, and that’s when I finally got a chance to take a picture with my all-time most favourite JSO member Tanja. (Yeaaahhhh!!).



Exciting but sad moments came! The JSO members were preparing to leave the hotel for the airport. So many friendly faces would be gone in a short while. We were watching every move of André and were trying to take a good picture of him (pic 07). He finally offered to give us his autograph (Boy! Do we thank the snow or what!!). All the time I wondered what I could say if I meet HIM one day…..I totally lost focus and only said "Thank you André" when he passed me the signed photo card. I didn’t even remember I have an "A RIEU" license plate back home (should have printed a picture and get his autograph). Although it wouldn’t hurt to ask if I could take a picture with him (and not just of him), but at that moment I couldn’t even thank him enough for the autograph and thought I should just leave the man alone, otherwise there’d be a whole chain of requests.

And so they’ve all left…..I couldn’t hold my emotions anymore. Tears came down like rain. Not only seeing the family-like JSO members leaving was a cruel thing, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t have the chance to see them again in 2008. Fortunately some fans were still in the hotel comforting me.
I know I’ve always loved watching André’s concerts, but since the trip to Toronto, I love them much more and they are the sweetest, most friendly people in the world. It’s hard for anyone not to remember their kindness. And of course, the fans from around the world, we’ve come together and became one family. André’s music brought us together and we would have many years of friendship to last.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sue for posting Alice's Toronto Diary and pictures.
Great to read, Alice---a wonderful experience for you which you are kindly sharing with all of the fans who were unable to be there.
Cheers
Bernadette

Annie said...

Wow, thanks for your Diary! I felt like I was there!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful report Alice. It was such a please to meet you and thank you so much for the flags. They were great. Love from
Jeanine Ann

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Alice! For those of us who couldn't be there, it helps us join in the fun. I enjoyed your sense of humor. Happy New Year! ~Chris T.

Margaret S said...

Thanks Alice for sharing your experiences. I'm sure it will be just as magical for us Only 315 days to go till we have our concerts here in Australia. thanks again

Ineke Holland said...

O Alice, what a wonderful story!! To our regret we missed Andre in the lobby, but I was happy to read your experiences. We loved to meet you in Toronto. We took your flags to Holland and we'll wave them in the next concerts (Amsterdam, Maastricht).
Love,
Ineke.

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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!"

Soundcheck in Maastricht 2013 (RTL Photo)

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Maastricht 2012 ~ "André and Pierre on The Theater Steps" by Bee

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