FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Walking

What will the 20 km walks be like?


Think of each 20 km walk as 4 x 5 km. The terrain will be flat and we’ll walk at a leisurely pace, with points of interest highlighted by our professional guides. Each day, we’ll have a morning and afternoon break (with refreshments), and a longer midday rest for lunch. We’ll be walking on Days 4, 5, and 7, beginning each walk around 9 am, and finishing around 5 pm. (The 13-day program includes an optional 10 km walk into Apeldoorn.)




Can I walk a portion of the route?


No. Our routes will be rural and inaccessible by vehicles. We’ve made special arrangements for safety, security and medical along the routes.




Do I need special gear?


Yes. Good hiking shoes/boots will be the primary gear required. Feel free to bring a daypack and/or walking poles if you want. You’ll also need rain gear.

We’ll post a packing list on the site closer to departure.




How is the terrain?


The terrain will be flat and we’ll walk at a leisurely pace, with points of interest highlighted by our professional guides.

We’ll be walking rain or shine, so keep this in mind when you choose your footwear. Some of our routes may be muddy.




Will the Dutch people join us on the walks?


We expect many Dutch residents will walk alongside us. All of their arrangements are being coordinated by KBVN, the Dutch Walking Association.




What if it’s raining?


We’ll be walking rain or shine, so you’ll need to bring rain gear. Also keep this in mind when choosing footwear, and packing socks.




Can I bike the route?


For safety reasons, bicycles won’t be permitted.




Will there be toilet facilities along the route?


Yes, we’ve made these arrangements.




I’m unable to walk 20km. Will there be an alterative on the walk days?


Yes, we’ve arranged for a mini-bus if (in advance) you opt out of the walk. The bus will not follow the walking route, but it will go to the walk’s highlights (eg. cemeteries, monuments, castles, etc.) and will travel further afield. (Route TBD.) The estimated cost is a maximum $100/p/day x 3 days, including a guide and lunch. Or, you can relax at our hotel, the beautiful Ehzerwold Estate.





Itinerary

Where can I find the itinerary?


Our itinerary can be found here! If you want to print the itinerary, click here.




Are the 9-day and 13-day programs the same? One is just longer?


Both programs are the same, up until May 7th when the shorter one ends. Both include three 20 km walks, commemorations and celebrations, plus a free day for personal sight seeing.

The longer program includes a day in Nijmegen/Arnhem (learning about Operation Market Garden), a day in Amsterdam (including a canal tour), another free day, and a very special day in Apeldoorn where we’ll meet Princess Margriet.





Preparation

Should I train?


Training is highly recommended because it acclimatizes you to the distance and provides an opportunity to test and/or break-in your gear. Ideally, walk along rural paths that are a mix of dirt and paved. Try different socks, water bottles/hydration pacs, walking poles. See what works for you. Training goes a long way toward avoiding dehydration and blisters—the most common hiking problems.




Can I get tips on how to train for the pilgrimage?


Check out this website filled with great training schedules and tips! https://www.verywellfit.com/training-for-long-distance-walks-3432768 https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-train-to-walk-the-camino-de-santiago-3434979




How do I avoid blisters?


  • Wear hiking boots that fit well
  • Choose the right footwear
  • Learn how to lace your boots
  • Wear wool or synthetic socks
  • Make sure your socks fit well
  • Pick socks that are the right thickness
  • Break in your boots before you head out
  • Wear liner socks
  • Consider toe socks
  • Keep your feet dry
https://happiestoutdoors.ca/how-to-prevent-blisters-while-hiking/





Free Time

Do I have any time on my own?


Yes. Both the 9 and 13-day programs have a free day for you to spend at leisure on the hotel estate, sight-seeing, or meeting up with Dutch friends.




What are some nice places to visit?


  • Visit the beautiful town of Groningen/Delfzijl, a beautiful town, way up North
  • Visit Amsterdam, Holland’s famous capital city
  • Visit Rotterdam, which was completely bombed in WWII
  • Kinderdijk (Unesco) where you’ll see Dutch windmills
  • Giethoorn (the Venice of The Netherlands) where you can enjoy a quiet boat trip
  • Apenheul, a zoo full of curious monkeys in Apeldoorn
  • Burgers Zoo in Arnhem, a big zoo with a real safari, jungle, desert and ocean




Do I need to arrange my own lunch on Free Days?


Yes. You can arrange for a packed lunch from the hotel or enjoy eating in one of the many great Dutch cafes.





Weather

What will the weather be like?


Spring in The Netherlands is a beautiful time of year with weather similar to Canada’s. Expect lots of sunshine, with occasional rain. Daytime temperatures will range between 8-18 degrees Celsius, with a chance of frost at night.

We’ll be walking rain or shine, so keep this in mind when you choose your footwear. Some of our routes may be muddy.




Should I bring rain gear?


Yes. You should bring a rain jacket with a hood, and rain pants.





Booking

How do I book my pilgrimage?


Go to the page Book Now and follow the 3 easy steps! Make sure to save the Booking Form on your computer before filling it out in Adobe Reader. Don't fill it out online.




What’s included in the price?


The price includes round-trip airfare (Toronto-Schiphol-Toronto), hotels, meals (except lunch on free days) and transportation.

For additional inclusions and exclusions, read the Terms & Conditions in the Booking Form.




What’s excluded in the price?


The price excludes airport taxes and fuel surcharges, travel insurance, and personal sight-seeing. For additional details, read the Terms & Conditions in the Booking Form.




What payment options are available?


You can pay by credit card, by e-transfer, or by cheque. See the Booking Form for details.




Can I fill out the Booking Form digitally before I print it?


Yes, you can fill out the PDF digitally, then print it. Or you can print off the blank form. Remember to sign the signature fields and send the Form by mail to: Verstraete Travel & Cruises 14845 Yonge Street, Aurora, ON, L4G 1N1




What is the credit card fee?


The credit card fee is a one-time, per person fee. Verstraete Travel & Cruises invoices this fee to offset charges imposed by their third party processor for those who pay by credit card. So, if you’re registering two people, you will pay $85 x 2 = $170, once only.




How do I e-transfer my payment?


E-transfer your payment to Verstraete Travel & Cruises using the email address: aurora@verstraete.com. There’s no need to create a Question/Answer because the agency uses auto-deposit. In the Notes section, indicate that the payment is for IOFF and include the participant name(s).




Can I email my Booking Form?


You should mail your Booking Form to Verstraete Travel and Cruises. When you email your Form (which includes your personal data and signature) and your passport, you risk identity theft.




My partner isn’t a descendant. Can he/she still register with me?


Yes, your partner is welcome to come!




Do I need to return to Toronto after IOFF?


Verstraete Travel & Cruises can assist you with other arrangements. Email your request to them and they will follow up with you.




Can Verstraete Travel & Cruises assist me with other travel plans?


Verstraete Travel & Cruises can assist you with other arrangements. Email your request to them and they will follow up with you.





Transportation

How do I get from place to place?


When we’re not walking, we’ll be travelling by coach buses. This is included in the price.




How do I get from Schiphol Airport to my hotel?


We’ll be travelling to/from our hotels by coach buses. This is included in the price.





Hotel

Which hotels are included in the pilgrimage?


For our two nights in Nijmegen, we’ll be divided between two central hotels: Van der Valk Cuijk and Van der Valk Molenhoek.

For our 5 nights (9 day program) or 9 nights (13 days), we’ll be staying at the beautiful Ehzerwold Estate in Almen.




Do I need to book my own hotel room?


No. Your hotel room is included and will be arranged by Verstraete Travel & Cruises.





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