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Our own story July 2023.
July 8th 2023. Politician Caroline van der Plas, (leader of the BBB-Party), greeted warmly by the Rieu fans as “savior of the country”. Two days ago, the Dutch parliament resigned. Caroline van der Plas is the leader of the biggest political party (BBB), so after the elections of November 2023 she could be our new prime minister. She should have headed to the government center in The Hague, but she said to the press: First of all I’ll attend André Rieu’s concert with my mother.
Politician Caroline van der Plas, with her mother in a wheelchair, attending Andre’s concert. Photo credits: Laurens de Bouvrie.
The rubber duck store in the Nieuwstraat, sold many André ducks.
Maastricht: where children can run free.
Dinner at the Belgian restaurant “Witloof” in Maastricht. Our son Martin joined us in the 4th concert
We visited John and Bobbie’s “home away from home” for already 17 years. Each year (except 2020 and 2021) they rent the same studio at Camping Lemmenshof in Ell (Limburg)
We had a day trip to Valkenburg to stay cool underground (always 11 degrees C = 51.8 F) in a (copied) coal mine and marl caves next door with 3D paintings.
Look who we met at the forest café “The Nightingale”! Laura Engel with Mateo and Eve.
As we use to say: we don’t stay 3 weeks in Maastricht for the concerts (after 17 years in a row we know the music), but the main reason is to meet friends and eat ice cream together. Canvas André enjoys to see us every year!
We visited Linda and Richard’s “home away from home” for 13 years on Camping “De Oosterdriessen”, at the other side of the river Meuse. Richard: “Damn, I did not notice a little obstacle and now we have the first damage to our brand new camper van”.
The worldwide Corona lock down of 2 years (2020, 2021), changed everything. We speak about the era before-and-after Corona (Covid-19 virus). 15 years in a row of Vrijthof concerts before, and 2 years after. We found an empty Amadeus café (opposite the bookstore in the Dominican church) and a dead spot at daytime with Gauchos, which used to be the hang-out terrace of the fans. Is this the result of the two-year corona stop and not being able to get staff?
This year we arrived at Tuesday, July 4th 2023. The first concert would be on Thursday July 6, and we expected the general rehearsal at Wednesday July 5th. On the first day of arrival we hang the banners on the hotel facade. They will stay there until the end of the concerts (July 23rd).
Daughter Irene joined us in the 7th concert. She loved the concert and all fun around.
What did we do in between the concerts? Sightseeing the Limburg countryside and visiting friends! It was so nice to meet Ludo Mesters and his wife Jeanine again. Ludo was our Stiphout contact person for our fan dinners, during 10 years in a row. Now retired.
Driving along nice villages.
1673 Siege of Maastricht. This year there are commemorations that musketeer d'Artagnan died in the battle of Maastricht, 350 years ago. He fought for his French king Louis XIV (also called Sun King). In 1673 the French wanted to have Maastricht. There was a big battle between France and the Dutch prince of Orange Willem III. Fortunately Holland won. Various museums show exhibitions and we visited the Limburg museum in Venlo and Centre Ceramique in Maastricht. A fan once asked us why there are so many French names here. Well, that is because of the history. Hotel de la Bourse, Hotel DuCasque, La Chine, etc.
On top of the Cauberg in Valkenburg, is a luxurous wellness resort. We floated in the hot spring water all day!
Dinner at Gauchos with friends Hans and Tineke. The rain lasted only 30 minutes.
Friends in our room to enjoy the view and the concert: Choy family members and Al Girard (Canada).
Mr. Gerd Leers, a former Maastricht mayor, made the Vrijthof concerts possible in 2005. After 18 years we still thank him for that! And Mr. Johan, the wafflebaker, retired this year.
More familiar faces: Another former mayor: Mr. Onno Hoes, Albert Verlinden and the Hochstenbachs (entrepreneurs).
Fan’s pictures from us.
The 12th and last concert. Unfortunately it was raining several times.
We had lovely guests in our room: Laura Engel and Pascal Mestrom.
The next morning when we opened the curtains, the square was already empty. The crew must have worked all night through!
What we see from our hotelroom: the confetti/streamers-canons and the cleaning up the next morning.
A huge yellow crane, lifting a smaller orange crane to put it on a truck. André is watching the big job.
While Ruud is working on the website, the fireworks experts are renewing the red fireballs (for the Bolero) on the roof of the stage.
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