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For the most part you are free to do whatever you want, if you don’t want to be involved with the demonstrations, the included walking tours, included dinners, you do not have to. It is after all your vacation.
Overall the “Demonstrations” are just a ploy to get you into the shops and hopefully spend some money, the TM normally gets some kickbacks, so naturally they would rather you there. But our TM never cared overall if we went or not, more so it was a “So we have a demonstration of _ today at if you want to take part in it meet at _” it was never proposed that we had to go.
The Leather demonstration is literally about 20-25 minutes max. For us it served as the meeting place for the walking tour of Florence which I thought was great as you see everything of interest outside of the Museums/Palaces/Churches. Also very fast pace, around an hour or so if memory serves me right.
The Glass Blowing one in Venice is neat, mostly just to see the unreal speed it takes the glassblower to make the little horse statue in the demonstration. Also around 20-25 minutes, maybe actually more like 10-15. If you go to this you need to check out not just the 100K Euro + Glass statues, but also the showroom itself. the very back room of the shop on the opposite side from where the demonstration is held is a very small room with hand painted ceiling/walls, its actually pretty amazing.
The Lace one I didn’t bother going to.
The Beer stein stop was kinda a given, there isn’t that much in St Goar and if you end up there on the wrong day or early in the morning, nothing is open other then the shop. It is pretty much just a 20-25 minute talk about what makes a good Beerstein in the middle of their showroom. Right across the street is a Birkenstock store, and next to it is a shop that sells Steiff Teddy Bears and CoCo Clocks.
The Cheese/Clog Demonstration on the way In or Out of Amsterdam is pretty boring, I am also almost 100% sure the guy giving the demonstration was stoned out of his mind, which brought a certain level of amusement to the demonstration. This place is on the side of the motor-way in some old farm buildings, pretty much the only thing to do when stopped here is to do the demonstration, look through the adjoined shop, or look at the farmland(not really very spectacular farmland mind you)
For the most part they were all organized into something else, other than the Beersteins and the Cheese/Clog stops, but even then they were a hour long stop at most. In looking back they never seemed to take time away from doing other things, as they were always a prelude or on-route type option and never a truly out of the way endeavorer.
Thanks for the info! I knew that the demonstrations were really about buying stuff (thank you, Rick Steves!), but I wasn’t sure if it was proper to talk about it in public like that….
Another question – aside from the demonstrations in Amsterdam, do you feel that the bike through Edam is worth it? I’m debating skipping it to get more time in the Amsterdam museums..
With reagrds to skipping the bike ride through Edam to see more of Amsterdam. When my tour came to Edam it was before we got to Amsterdam so if you did not bike you had to wait in the little town or on the bus.
Hope this helps
For our tour the Bike ride was suppose to be the first full day in Amsterdam and would have taken up most of the morning I believe. But as luck would have it, It was raining the day of so the trip was canceled.
Personally, as far as Amsterdam goes, I would suggest starting off at Anne Frank house, then moving north to see the museums around Museumplein. Not really due to the lines, but because Anne Frank is closer to the drop-off/pick-up point then the others and a bit further away from the tram system. It also would allow you time to pick up a meal in transit or somewhere around the park and have it in the park(which is what we did, little picnic style thing) The Tram system in the city is very very easy to manage also, so don’t have any worries on that.
As far as the demonstration things, yah the Kick-Backs aren’t really talked about, but thats more based on polite conversation then anything else, most of the time when a TM or anyone in the tour industry hears the word Kick-Back from a customer they cringe a bit as it is seen as a negative thing. In reality, they get a kickback, and normally you end up getting a cheaper price then normal on the product, may only be a few Euro though lol
Also do not miss the Van Gogh Museum, stunning.
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