Alice in Wonderland ~ Maastricht
It’s easy to make friends when you love André’s music and when you do meet someone for the first time, it’s very common that you feel like you’ve known each other for years. My trip to Maastricht was very rewarding. My sister Wendy and her husband Simon made several friends even though they didn’t know anyone from the websites before. The only person she heard of was Ineke who helped us a lot with the dinner/hotel/tickets arrangements. (Love you, Ineke!) I was also pleasantly surprised when Wendy just checked in Du Casque, called our room from hers and told me she already met the fans down at the hotel’s restaurant, before she even came to see me and my parents.
Instead of reporting on the concerts, I wanted to share with you some of my own experiences. I have several André-related encounters when I had his T-shirt on. Here are a few to share with you:
The day we left Vancouver for Amsterdam, I wore my André Rieu 30th anniversary men’s T-shirt (US/Canada Tour). The minute I stepped into the KLM aircraft, the chief of crew had his eyes on my chest and said “Ahhh…” as he pointed at André. “I’m going to see Ong-Der-Lay”, I said.
While waiting for the flight to take off, Mr. Flight attendant walked by, saw my André and asked “Do you know who that is?” (Well, hellooooo!!! Do you really think I dare to wear a man on my chest if I didn’t even know who he is??) He asked “You’re a fan? Do you know he built a castle in Canada last year?” (Sorry, my friend, but it wasn’t last year) “Yeah, it’s December 2007 in Toronto and we were there!”
Mr. Flight attendant was doing his duty free shopping cart routine. When he passed by our seats, he didn’t say “duty free” bla bla bla…but “André Rieu DVD’s…..André Rieu OLD CD’s…” while pushing his cart. That was so funny that me and the 2 women (from Holland) sitting across the aisle had a good laugh.
The day after we arrived, we went to La Chine for lunch. It’s a Chinese restaurant within 5-minute walk from Vrijthof and the food was quite good. Lily, the restaurant’s owner, and her partner were surprised to hear we’re from Hong Kong and Canada just for André. Guess they’ve never met any Chinese die hard fans like me. We spoke the same language and immediately had a nice chat like friends. The second time we went for dinner I was wearing a red André Rieu Crew T-shirt that Sonja gave me (I love it, Sonja!). There were more waiters as dinner time was busier. I overheard one of them telling another “André Rieu crew ahh” (75% English, 25% Chinese). While chatting with Lily I heard the tourist-like folks at the table next to us saying “Oh, she’s with André Rieu crew, we should take a picture with her (I must have pretty good ears…). Later when they asked if I was with the crew (yeah right, I wish…), I, unfortunately, had to disappoint them! Lily had never seen André’s concert. Though the restaurant is so close by, she always had to work because the restaurant was so busy during the concerts. We encouraged her to find time for it next year but we couldn’t wait, so we invited her to watch it from our hotel and she made it just when they started the 76 Trombones. We became friends and again it’s all because of André’s music.
We took a train ride and while waiting for the little red train to depart Vrijthof, someone was mumbling “Look at her T-shirt…” (I had my Maggie’s T-shirt on). It’s interesting how often my chest was being looked at when I had André on me. You’re right, Al, I shouldn’t have brought so many clothings, I never got to wear my mickey mouse T-shirt or the orange one I purposely brought for Holland’s theme. I kept wearing and washing the André ones.
The day we left Amsterdam for Vancouver, I wore my new André Rieu 30th anniversary ladies’ T-Shirt. At the airport, when I was 2 feet away from the Customs booth, the officer said “André Rieu! You like him? His music?” “Yes, very much, we’re here for his concerts!” My sister, on the other hand, had a different experience when she arrived at Amsterdam Airport. The officer kind of questioned her while looking at her passport, and asked how old she was. He wondered if it’s really her passport since my sister looked much much younger than her real age. Maybe she should have been wearing André T-shirt to minimize trouble. I agreed with Sonja that if we’re being questioned, we would happily say “THANK YOU!”
And as for meeting and hugging old and new friends, I had so many fond memories but the rather unforgettable one was that with Jann. I was walking into Sue's room and saw this lady who appeared to be Jann from the back. Yes, it was her! I’d been waiting for this moment for so long and when she turned around and saw me, we’re hugging so hard, jumping and spinning within that 18” diameter. We must have done at least 7 to 8 circles while singing that Living Next Door to (#%@%ing) Alice song! Boy! Grandma Jann had lots of energy to spare. I could still remember my dizziness when I got out from the washing machine! I got some new nicknames too, like MaryAnn called me Raccoon and Ruud called me Asian #2 :D
I had lunch one day with several fans. I ordered an omelette but the waitress forgot my order twice, and since almost everyone finished eating, and I wasn’t really hungry, I wanted to see if I should just cancel the order, but then my omelette came…and I finished the whole thing in a rather short time. The girls looked at me and wondered how much I would eat if I WERE hungry!
It was too hot for me one day that I wanted to get ice cream. I asked if anyone wanted ice cream but the girls living next door to Alice said they just had some. Jann asked me how old we could get driver’s license in Canada as they’re guessing my age (they kind of knew how old I was but wasn’t too sure….). I confirmed that I was 18 when I got my license the year Pierre was born. Sue thought I was 30 (guess she was trying to be nice..). I hugged her and said “Oh! Thank You! Thank You! I’ll buy you ice cream tomorrow!” But after just a couple of minutes when I left their room, she said I looked like 32. WHAT??? “Hey, you said I was 30, and now I’m 32 just after 2 minutes??” and Sue whispered “Damn! There goes my ice cream!” (correct me if I don’t have your exact words, Sue). Soooo funny!
We joined a bus + boat tour and while we’re waiting for the Stiphout boat to arrive at the dock near André’s castle or the caves at Pieter’s Hill, a European couple saw my button that Ruth made for us (or badge as Adele called it) and wondered where I got it from. The Germans were from a place near Stuttgart and didn’t speak very good English. We managed to chat for a while regardless. I talked about the nice weather we had that day, put up my arms and said “Heut ist der schonste tag in meinem leben”, they’re so happy that I finally spoke their language (Thank you, Platin Tenors). Auf Wiedersehen!
While it’s unlikely but never impossible that I can make it to Maastricht next year, this is definitely the best place to be with lots of lovely people, lovely music, great food, hundreds of shops….and last but not least, an invitation to an André concert for free (full dress rehearsal).
And Then There Was The "Delicious" Food in Maastricht!!!
There's one little, but MAJOR memory that I didn't include in my main report, too emotional. But at the last concert, before Lullaby, I had my hands on Sue's shoulders, trying hard not to feel too sad about the whole ending, when she reached up and suqeezed my fingers, and we stood that way the rest of the song. That special touch was the exact feeling what Maastricht was all about, fans and friends meeting in André's hometown, to be proud of what the RIEU family has accomplished all these years. From a few members in the Salon Orchestra performing at the Vrijthof, without chairs, to 5 sold-out concerts with fans from all over the world coming together to listen to the man with the violin ... Alice
All Photos on This Page Are The Copyright Property of
©Alice Leung and Simon Lee