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About us (and our country)
Hello fan friends, We are Ruud and Ineke Elshout-Cornelissen and we live in Den Haag (English: The Hague) in the Netherlands. We have a son (Martin 1964) and a daughter (Irene 1966), two granddaughters (Natascha 1990, Ninotchka 1991) and two grandsons (Thomas 2010, Piter 2013). We like to share our admiration for the Dutch conductor/ violinist André Rieu with you. We also like to tell you something about our small country, which is only a pinprick on the world globe. The photo at your right was taken in Toronto, December 2007, almost Christmas and the premiere of the World Stadium Tour, with for the first time the full décor of the Schönbrunn castle. Contact: ruud @ (please remove the spaces surrounding the @, this to avoid excessive spam sent to us)
NEDERLAND, the Netherlands. Written by Ineke, April 2007. We live in the Netherlands (English), Nederland/Holland (Dutch), die Niederlande (German), Pays Bas (French), Paises Bajos (Spanish).  All names refer to "low lands". That is correct! Half of our country is below sea level. Originally it was a swamp, where a couple of big rivers ran through. They carry mountain water from the Alps of Austria and Switzerland, and drain off the water into the North Sea. Gradually people "stole" more and more land from the water, by making dikes around and pumping out the water. That newly made low fields are called "polders". "Beemster" (in the province of North Holland) is such a "polder". It was reclaimed from a lake in the 17th century. The water was extracted out by several windmills. Do you now understand why our country has so many historic windmills?   Beemster was inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage Site List in 1999.
The low grass lands are perfect for dairy farms, producing milk and cheese. The black and white cows are a typical Dutch (Frisian) breed. Our flag is the red, white and blue, in horizontal lanes. Fight against the sea. Some parts of the Netherlands are 4 to 8 meters below sea level. Of course we still have dikes and pumping engines (which replace the antique wind mills). The most modern way to protect our country against the sea is by technical wonders as storm surge barriers. In case of storm and high tide on the North Sea, we can close a few big inlets, in the province of Zeeland. Our most recent flood disaster was here in 1953. 1800 people and all the cattle drowned. After that time our engineers designed and built a few storm surge barriers. The longest dam is the Oosterscheldekering, 9 km long. That's how we hope to keep our feet dry in future! It seems we have a national computer alarm! In case the water rises three meters, the alarm tells the engineers to close the inlets. That happened in November 2007. I can assure you those were exciting days!! Want to know more? Look under "How we keep our feet dry" (about the “Oosterscheldekering” and under “HERE” you can find more information about the "Maeslantkering", these are two of our storm surge barriers).
Size. The size of our country is 42.000 km ². It is smaller than the state "West Virginia" in the USA. We live here with 17,5 million people. Can you imagine? Too much people, too many cars, traffic jams all over! Without traffic jams, we could drive through our entire country within three hours. With traffic jams, it'll last a lot longer! Language. Our language is Dutch. Our neighbor countries are Germany and Belgium. Our neighbors speak German in Germany and Flemish and French in Belgium. Belgium is a bi-lingual country (even three languages, there is also a small German part). In history the northern part of Belgium belonged to the Netherlands and the southern part to France. That is why Flemish is related to the Dutch language. And that is why French is spoken south of Maastricht. You remember André talking about d'Artagnan, the fourth musketeer, who died in Maastricht, fighting for his French king? (After he had breakfast in André's kitchen?) In the 15th century the French wanted to conquer the Netherlands, but fortunately they did not succeed. André's castle dates from 1452! That is before Columbus discovered America, isn't that amazing?   A statue of d'Artagnan is in the Maastricht "Aldenhof Park". TWELVE PROVINCES The way the USA is divided into states, the Netherlands is divided into twelve "provinces". I bet you can mention two: Noord (North)-Brabant and Limburg. Our dear star violinist was born in Maastricht, which is the capital of Limburg, our most southern province. The amusement park "the Efteling", where the DVD "André in Wonderland" was recorded, is in the province of Noord-Brabant. The highest density of population is in the western part of the country, around the three biggest cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. This area consists of two provinces, called: North Holland and South Holland. That is why the entire country got the name "Holland". The province of Zeeland (Sea land) consists of a lot of islands and had the most recent flood disaster (1953). A couple of big rivers (several branches from the river Rhine and the Meuse) cut the country in two parts. People say: Serious Protestant people live north of the big rivers and jolly Roman Catholics (with their carnival parties) live south of the big rivers. There is a difference of mentality indeed. That's why André once said in an interview: Amsterdam is abroad to me. And that is why people from the crowded Holland provinces, experience the south of Limburg also as "abroad" in a very positive and relaxing way. The southern part of Limburg is the only hilly part of our country. You know: our highest "mountain" (Mount Vaals) is 322 meters high and we have to share it with our two neighbor countries. The village of Vaals has a Three Country Point, where Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet. Your cell phone will go crazy! Mount Saint Peter, where André lives on top, is 120 meters high. It is filled with caves and passages. During World War II (1940-1945) people sheltered inside Mount Saint Peter.
CAPITAL and MAIN CITIES. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. The Amsterdam Airport is called Schiphol, which no foreigner can pronounce! Amsterdam is a very interesting historic city, started as a dam in the river Amstel. The city has about a million inhabitants. Second big city is Rotterdam, also about a million inhabitants. Very well known for the big harbor Europoort: the entrance to Europe by boat! The Hague is the third big city, situated near the dunes and the sandy beaches of the North Sea Coast. The government buildings with the Knight's Hall and the International Court of Justice are in The Hague. Isn't it special that Amsterdam is the capital, while the government is in The Hague?? The picture is the historic Knight's Hall (13th century). Did you know that André had almost been born in Amsterdam? (Ineke was born in Amsterdam). André's parents moved from Amsterdam to Maastricht only ONE WEEK before André's birth!! At that time the Rieu family already had two daughters, Cecilia and Teresa. André was the first boy and the third child. After him, two more brothers (Robèrt and Jean- Philippe) and a sister (Gabrielle) were born.
MONARCHY The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy: Our first king was William the First of Orange in 1815. For the last hundred years our country is reigned by women!! Four successive queens did a wonderful job. At the moment queen Beatrix (1938) is head of state. Our royal family's name is "Van Oranje Nassau". That's why the color orange means a lot to us. Queen Beatrix' oldest son, called Willem-Alexander, will be our next king. A king again, after a century of women! Probably he'll adopt the name "King William IV". The William name is a long royal tradition. I think "William" is boring. I would personally prefer "King Alexander the First", but they never ask me! Willem-Alexander was born in 1967. He married a very pretty Argentinean wife (Máxima) and they have three lovely triple A daughters: Amalia (2003), Alexia (2005) and Ariane (2007). So after a king, we'll have another queen (Catharina-Amalia is her full name)! Our royals have no political power but they play a wonderful part as ambassadors of the Netherlands. Our government is situated in The Hague and also the queen and the crown prince live in The Hague. The Hague is a royal city with lots of (also empty historic) palaces. I took the picture of the queen myself. She opened an open air exhibition in my and her home town: The Hague.
Update by Ineke in 2013: On April 30, 2013 Queen Beatrix (after having been Head of State for 33 years) abdicated and Willem- Alexander (45) was inaugurated as King of the Netherlands. He preferred to keep his name "King Willem- Alexander" above the traditional "Willem IV". On this important day his wife Queen Maxima was at his side and also their three daughters Amalia (9), Alexia (7) and Ariane (6). In the future we'll celebrate King's Day on April 27, because this day is the King's real birthday.
Update 2014: On the occasion of Amalia’s 11th birthday on December 7th 2014, the Royal Family released a few very nice photos of the princesses. Amalia will be our future Queen after King Willem-Alexander. Beautiful parents and beautiful daughters.
On YouTube we found funny and interesting videos about the Netherlands
The song of the windmills. On Facebook we discovered Rich Theemling's "Holland Photography" page. Rich is an American, living in the Netherlands. He gave us permission to post his work here. This is what he wrote: "I am passionate about both the Netherlands and photography and I wanted to create something that's a little different from the usual photos. The goal was to bring my images to life in a way that transports viewers into some of my favorite scenes, found in the province of South Holland. I felt that time- lapse was the best way to make that happen, and I am very pleased with the results.  I hope you enjoy watching the video as much as I did making it!" (Click on the picture).
About this website We started this website in January 2007, in cooperation with our American friends Sonja Harper of the translations website, Sue Berry and John de Jong of the Harmony Parlor and Jann Treyvaud of the Australian fan website. Three cooperating André Rieu fan websites in three continents of the world, that is unique! (To our sadness Jann passed away in 2012 and the website was closed). This website is intended to share (parts of) videos and TV programs where André Rieu and the JSO appear. We want to make these performances available to a larger public and hence will provide English subtitles for all non-English videos. If André has a guest appearance in a (TV) program, we will only show his part and any other relevant section. Copyright of the programs remain with the original publishers and up-front we ask kind permission to publish the videos. This website runs on a non-profit and a voluntary basis. Ruud and Ineke Elshout-Cornelissen. To read a history of André Rieu websites world wide, click HERE.
Interested in the history of the Netherlands?? can tell you all about it! Other links: Delta Works and Flood protection (two storm surge barriers) Amsterdam, the weirdest city. The Hague (carillon) Kinderdijk: Nineteen windmills to see from one place! Keukenhof (bulb flower park), only open for six weeks a year, in April/May. Breezand (bulb grower of André Rieu tulip) Zaanse Schans Hoorn (Red Rose Café) Maastricht (city walks) Efteling (amusement park)
Dutch food What do Dutch people eat? Lots of strange stuff! Dennis Bunnik traveled to the Netherlands and Maastricht to inform the world about Dutch food. Dennis is an Australian with Dutch roots (he emigrated to Australia with his parents at the age of 7) and he really pronounces the Dutch words very good! Even “Maastricht” and “Rieu”. We found these two episodes on YouTube under Dennis Bunnik Travels. We loved to watch them! When you will come and visit the Netherlands, don’t hesitate to try a few!
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