Without a Ticket in The First Row
According to hard-core Rieu fans, Ruud and Ineke Elshout, two of the best tickets on the Vrijthof will cost € 190. They estimate that a hotel room with a phenomenal view of the Vrijthof square costs € 160 a night. But it is not the cost aspect that motivates the couple at the start of the tenth concert series to watch it from their room, no. 410 of Hotel DuCasque. Definitely not; the couple has booked a hotel room for each nights of the concert series. Furthermore, they have also purchased concert tickets. They have been doing this for the past ten years; they have never skipped a single concert in Maastricht. After the first concert weekend they go home, only to return again on Thursday to check in for another 12 days. The Rieu Hobby is definitely expensive!
On the other side of the Vrijthof Square, Monique Thelen and her sister-in-law, Andrea, are sitting in the window sill of her apartment on the Vrijthof. The high windows are wide open with pillows to sit on in the window sill. They also have a magnificent view; they can watch the swaying mass on the square as well as the people having dinner on the terraces. And if you lean a little forward, you can also follow the concert on a big screen. The sound is perfect and it is free. "Just to see the people outside in the street on the terraces is a treat for me. And the concert is an extra bonus. Everyone is working so hard. It looks like one big Rieu family." Monique Thelen has also never missed a Rieu concert, although to her it is somewhat obligatory. If she wants to skip a concert she has to leave her house. However, she has no problems with the violinist occupying her front yard for almost a month. "Of course I don’t watch every concert from beginning to end, but enjoy a part of it every evening." Her husband, Piet Nelissen, is rather more critical, mainly because of the accessibility of their apartment. When he wants to have visitors during the Rieu concerts, he has to obtain visitors passes for them to ensure access to his front door and he only has ten per evening. "If I want more, I have to submit a request with valid reasons." The Rieu concerts have drawn many guests to their home during the past couple of years. "Initially we sometimes had sixty or seventy guests: friends, relatives, business acquaintances. But Monique found it too much. Nowadays we take things calmer. And demand has also slowed down. At some stage it does become somewhat repetitive." On this Friday evening it is quieter; only four guests on the balcony and the window sill.
Translation by Entia