My St. Olavsleden Pilgrimage

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July 4th 2017
Published: July 20th 2017
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St. Olavsleden Pilgrimage

My route from Stormoen to Trondheim Norway

Additional maps: St. Olavsleden Pilgrimage

For my Planning My St. Olavsleden Pilgrimage blog which provides details on the history and the logistics involved, please go to Planning my St. Olavsleden Pilgrimage.

4 - 5 July 2017 Tuesday and Wednesday. My daughter Tamara and Linda dropped me off at the Colorado Springs airport. Upon boarding the flight attendant advised due to high temperatures and altitude, the aircraft was too heavy to take off. She asked for five volunteers to take the next flight in return for a voucher. I couldn't due to tight connections, but five others immediately volunteered saving me from being dragged off the United flight. My flight left Colorado Springs at 11:25 AM and the rest of the schedule to Houston, Amsterdam, Oslo, and Trondheim went smoothly. The flight from Houston to Amsterdam was great as I had the whole row to myself. I stretched out, although I didn't sleep as I had movies to watch. So kudos to United for that! A cold made the take offs and landings hard on my ears. They were pretty much plugged up for the entire time I was in Norway. The last leg of my flights landed about 3:30 PM on Wednesday.

I took the train from the Trondheim Airport (Varenes) to Verdal and a taxi to the Stiklestad Pilgrim Center where I was assigned a bed in the Loft House. The room and its six beds were traditional; carved white pine. I couldn't find the light switches other than in the bathroom, but the next day was able to do so based upon advice from Facebook friends who had stayed there before. The switch was above and to the left of the bathroom door. I thought I would have company from the first two pilgrims I met; Carola and Tomas from Sweden, but they had been camping for three weeks and decided to pamper themselves in the hotel. So I was the only pilgrim for the two nights I was to stay in the Loft House.

6 July 2017 Thursday. This was my day to recouperate from the two days of flying. The weather was fine. After a hearty breakfast I explored the historic church and open air museum of Norwegian homes that had been moved there from other areas of the Trondelag area of Norway. The Stiklestad church had the stone where King Olav is believed to had died in battle. They also sold walking sticks, without which I would have had great difficulty.

At 1 PM I met with Carola and Tomas to see the play, "The Family Silver" which traces a family heirloom, a silver spoon, over three generations: the great landslide of May of 1893, the German occupation in 1942, and the emergence of a modern Norway in 1959 where the role of the housewife changed to become a coequal worker with the husband. Each act is performed in the relevant part of the museum village. The play was in Norwegian, but we were given a paper with the story line. I had dinner with Carola and Tomas...the company was great as was the chef!

7 July 2017 Friday. Today I started my walk. The weather was perfect. After the huge breakfast buffet, the bus/taxi arrived at 9 AM and I headed to the Swedish border. I had the driver drop me off along the road at approimately 107 km from the Nidaros Cathedral, with 100 km being required to receive the St. Olavs letter (like the Camino Compostela). The first few km followed the highway next to a river. Farms were scattered along the way. Drivers would move way over to miss hitting me. However, when I waved, hardly anyone waved back. I attributed this to the normal Norwegian reserve. After a few km I turned right onto a gravel road. I soon arrived at a motor raceway so stopped for a drink and ice cream. I talked to the manager, Sven, who had been a Chief Engineer on an oil exploration ship and had been all over the world. I also saw some members of the Norwegian Olympic Nordic Ski Team practicing for the next Olympics in eight months time. Of course, they had rollers on their skis. Soon I was off again.

Shortly I noticed a herd of cows grazing on the hillside. Not having any pilgrims to talk to I moo'ed at the cows. Then I noticed that they were not fenced off. I had cows all around me. I thought it best to move on. The herd of cows followed me. Soon the bull noticed that all his cows were gone and ran after us. Fortunately, a car came by and I asked the driver to take me a few hundred meters down the road to get away from the bull. He did, and I live to tell about it.

After passing many farms, the St. Olav direction signs led me through a farmers field to a forest where a huge sign hung high in the trees pointing the way down a steep muddy path. This is where my walking stick came in handy. I crossed a bridge over a roaring stream and then proceeded to climb a steep muddy path. From ther to Vuku it was up and down. I arrived in Vuku exhausted.

There I met Gerd who gave me a drink of water and a banana. She and her husband had just returned from the European Bowling Championship in Ireland. He didn't win this time, but has won several times in the past. After a little rest she showed me where the church was so I could get a stamp in my pilgrims passport. The church was closed as churches often are in Norway. She then showed me where Liv, the owner of Ostnes Farm, lived so that I could check in. I spent awhile talking to Liv and learned that her family had owned the farm since 1780. She was concerned that none of her children wanted to farm, and this would mean the end of her family's heritage. She gave me a sample of a simple traditional dish she had prepared for supper for her husband and herself. Then I was shown a grass coverd cabin which I had to myself. All the other cabins were occupied by salmon fisherman who advised me the fishing was great. Liv didn't provide dinner so I walked to a burger/pizza place for supper. I then took a shower and went to bed. An eye mask turned out to be essential as it never gets dark during July at that latitude.

8 July 2017 Saturday. Today was mostly scattered rain showers. I was able to do without my poncho, and just my rain jacket. For the heaviest rain I was lucky to arrive at a bus shelter just in time. I continued to walk once it passed. Today I walked the shoulders of paved roads all the way to the Stiklestad Farm. I was greeted by three generations, Frode, Oddmund, Lille, and the grandson Fredrik who showed my around. I stayed in a very traditional cabin. Again, I couldn't find the light switch. What's with Norwegians and their light switch placement not meeting code! I notice many candles so discovered that there were no lights. I asked for matches. Once all candles were lit, I could see where the matches were. After dinner the grandfather made a roaring fire in the fireplace. But before that I had a Spanish inspired cod fish soup with Fredrik and Frode in the gazebo for lunch. It seems that the Norwegian, Spanish, and Portugese fishing fleets in the North Atlantic would share recipes.

When I inquired about taking a shower, as the cabin had no toilet or shower, I was taken to the parents home where I had the run of the place for the time I was there as the parents were gone most of the time. After a shower I was able to connect to wifi. I also had long conversations with Fredrik about the future of Norway, with its very generous social system funded by a declining source of oil wealth. For example, parents get a year of maternity leave, which they can split any way they wish. I also learned that about 350 U.S. Army soldiers were in the area. They arrived in the winter in desert uniforms and nearly froze to death. The Norwegians thought this was excellent planning by the U.S. military. We talked briefly about American politcs, just to assure him that despite what Trump says, the U.S. will never abondon NATO. We did agree that most European countries were not sharing the defense burden. But for the most part, this topic did not come up. Later, Fredrik cooked dinner and then he had to leave to help his sister who owns a club in Verdal. So I went to bed about 9 PM.

9 July 2017 Sunday. I walked a couple km to the Pilgrim Center in Stiklestad for lunch. Did I mention they have a great chef? It seems that many restaurants in nearby Verdal close on Sundays so the people of Verdal walk to Stiklestad for lunch. Today the weather was perfect so there were many Sunday walkers and eaters. As I was eating, a man joined me. He introduced himself as Ragnar, which he said was a good Viking name. He was a seaman until 40 years ago when oil was discovered in the North Sea. Ever since then he worked in Verdal to build oil platforms. The largest in the world was currently under construction there. But it may be the last as future oil exraction will be performed on the sea bed.

After an educational lunch I walked the leisurely few km along a tree lined path to Verdal. I noticed one woman walking a half dozen dogs. Helen told me that her dogs had won championships all over Europe. Norwegians are exceptional people as I was running into champions everywhere I went!

I finally got to Verdal and checked into a hotel next to a Thai restaurant. You can guess where I had dinner! The hotel staff also washed my clothes...not many since I didn't take many.

10 July 2017 Monday. This was a particularly frustrating day as I got lost a few times. The weather was great again as I left Verdal for Munkeby. The intersections along the trail usually have a St. Olav direction sign, and if not then I look each direction to see if I can find a sign further along. Well, I thought I spotted a sign in one direction and it turned out to be a marker for an underground pipeline. I asked directions and eventually returned to the path, which continued up and down hills, through the high wheat fields (which covered some signs), and through forests with their muddy paths. The views over the fjord were great, but I questioned whether the cost of walking 10 extra km just for the view was worth it. But I learned that such jaunts are nothing for Norwegians who are a hearty, athletic folk whose favorite pastime is to walk tens of km in such environments, and certainly not along paved roads! I expressed my frustration in a guest book at a rest stop in the middle of no where; ending with my statement that this was my last pilgrimage. I now wish I hadn't written that, but two pilgrims following me thought it was funny and wanted to meet me. I eventually met Gun from Goteborg and Stefan from Lubeck at the Munkeby Hellberger (farm) that evening.

In the meantime I had plenty of opportunities to get lost again. In one place I followed signs clockwise all around a field that had electrical fences. There was a gate that would take me through the fence, but it hadn't been opened in years. I tried to open that gate to no avail and then noticed that had I been able to get though I would only get into another electrified field. So I back tracked and soon found signs that could be seem going in a counterclockwise direction. So I walk through a muddy forest and got to the Munkeby monastery by a river.

I follow the signs along the river, but noticed I was getting further away from the farm on the hill, which was my intended destination. I was hoping to find civilization before I went too far. Soon I heard noises of children playing up ahead. I soon reached them, all naked, splashing in the river. One of the mom's, minimally attired, had a cell phone and knew the owner of the farm. She arranged for him to pick me up near the swimming spot. At the farm I was given a beautiful room and a delicious dinner. Stefan joined me for dinner and after dinner converstation.

11 July 2017 Tuesday. I met Gun so instead of leaving at 9 AM we had a great time talking until 10:15 have to take advantage of meeting pilgrims as there are so few. Indeed, Carola, Tomas, Stefan and Gun were the only pilgrims I met until I arrived in Trondheim.

So I belatedly headed to Levanger. The rain had finally caught up with me, and I had to take out my poncho. On the way into town I caught up with three women, a rare occasion as I never catch up with anyone! The woman in the middle was crying and tugging on the jackets of the other two. As I passed the woman I turned to her and said "Hi!" I could see that she had Downs Syndrom. When she looked at me her tears turned to a big smile and she came up to me and gave me a big hug, which I returned. So I invited them to follow me, which they did until they arrived at their car. Her caregivers thanked me.

I had lunch along the waterfront. The owner of the Brygge restaurant, Knut, advised me that they had just opened three weeks ago. He suggested a pilgrim special of fish soup. I ordered the soup and an Estella beer from Spain, which is a favorite from my walk along the Camino de Santiago last year. I asked the owner for the name of the soup so I could look on line for the recipe. He wrote down "Our own fish soup." I told him that his secret was out as I had a similar soup in Stiklestad. He told me the chef had worked in Levanger before moving to Stiklestad.

After lunch I met a journalist who told me about Levanger. It used to be a major trading port as it was the town furthest east along the fjord that did not freeze up in the winter. Swedes would use horse drawn sleds to come over the mountains to trade for fish. I then stopped at a bank for more cash, but the cashier told me that they didn't have cash. I could only withdraw cash from the ATM. I was concerned about my bank balance as I was told a different exchange rate, so was going to use my credit card.

I then continued west along the fjord past a paper mill that was one of five surviving after the demand for newspaper dropped as people got their news from other sources. I arrived at the Laberget Lierstad at 6:15 PM, totally exhausted. I plopped my backpack on the front steps. I soon noticed...nothing. It was closed! I found a phone number on the door and flagged a passing cyclist down to ask him to call that number, which he kindly did. Soon the owners' daughter, Linda, showed up. Linda was interesting. She came from near Narvik, way north, where she owned a fishing boat. However, the boat sprung a leak so she came south to help her parents while her boat was being repaired. Her first question to me was "Are you a Christian?" I confirmed I was, but was surprised as this is not the usual question one gets from a stranger. She told me that this area had the highest per capita percent of Christians in Norway.

She offered to take me to the next pilgrim hostel so I asked her to take me to the Falstad prisoner of war camp in Ekne. I had to explain that it not longer housed prisoners...just pilgrims...which turned out not to be the case as it was closed, too! So she called Anne-Grete at the Hellsberg Herberger, where I was scheduled to be the next night. She had room so Linda drove me the 20 km there. I was concerned that I wouldn't receive the St. Olavs letter as I was now walking less than 100 km. By 8 PM I was having a delicous fish dinner. This fish came from Sptizbergen where Anne Grete's eldest son worked half a year as a coal miner. Anne-Grete is Sami, the reindeer people, and comes from near the Russian border in Kirkenes. She and her husband Per Arne have five other children living at home, along with a French girl who was interning for the summer (she was studying agriculture). They soon made me a part of their family.

12 July 2017 Wednesday. This was my day to observe farming life in Norway. The sky was overcast with intermittment showers. I went with son Rolf to the local co-op where farmers bring their fresh crops where other farmers who grow something else can buy what they need. Then I watched Per Arne and the French intern press rasberries into juice for themselves and all the other rasberry growers in the area. All the farmers depended upon each other this way. That evening we all sat aound the family dining table for dinner...they sang the prayer for the meal...a truly amazing time!

13 July 2017 Thursday. Today was overcast with scattered showers. I followed the coastline along the fjord, which should have meant I wouldn't get lost. But there was a section that went inland and that did it. I was walking through the forest. The trail was deep mud, and no way to get around it. So I just stepped into the mud which then sucked my shoe off. After climbing another of many steep hills, I arrived in a field and an abondoned farm house. I walked to the highway, but no one stopped to let me know where I was. I walked to a nearby home and rang the doorbell. Bjorn, his wife and kids came out. I asked him to mark on my map where I was. I had almost walked full circle. I asked him to call the Oldervik Herberger to see if they would pick me up. He knew the owner Anne, husband Bjorn, and their eldest daughter Oda as he went moose hunting with them. It seems everyone knows everyone in a region. Anne worked with Anne-Grete at a pre-school and their girls knew Stian Vik, the boat owner who would take me from Tautra to Trondheim, from school. Soon Oda picked me up and in no time I was at the Oldervik Herberger. I had dinner with Anne, Oda and Enya, their other daughter. Husband Bjorn showed up part way through, but then had to leave as he worked the evening with disabled people. I didn't eat reindeer during this trip, but I tried some moose sausage! That night I was the only occupant of their ancestral home built in 1893.

14 and 15 July 2017 Friday and Saturday. Two days of scattered showers. I continued along the fjord; this time not getting lost. About 11 AM I met Anne Mille and husband Steiner on the St. Olavsleden path that went by their home. We talked for about 30 minutes. Then I said I had to sit down as my back was hurting me; intending to sit on a retaining wall next to their mailbox. Instead, Anne Mille invited me to their covered porch looking out over the fjord, and then proceeded to feed me Norwegian pancakes with brown goats cheese...yum!!! They told me about their two trips to the States. One from New York to San Francisco and the second from Atlanta to Nashville, Memphis, the Blues route through Mississippi, to New Orleans, and back to Atlanta. They love blues and jazz! While having this leaisurely lunch, a thunderstorm passed through...good timing.

I pressed on and soon arrived at the 2.5 km causeway to the island of Tautra. As I was crossing I met a family who were cycling to the island; Roger, Bastian, Henrik, and Marianne. We talked for a few minutes and then they were on their way. I arrived at the Klostergarden, an old Norwegian inn, and met the cycling family again and joined them for a beer made my the Kloster monks. What kloster doesn't have their own beer! It was good. So after more pleasant conversation, they had to leave for their cabin on the mainland and I needed to check in, shower, and have dinner.

Per was the host and Klara my waitress for all meals. They were warm and friendly, in a Norwegian sort of way...reserve/shyness replaced with a smile! As I would have three large meals there I worked my way down their menu...meatballs the first evening, salmon, the next, and pork loin for Sunday dinner; all served with boiled vegetables and potatoes. The Norwegians love boiled food. I would be there until Sunday at 2 PM because the boat to Trondheim on went on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Saturday the weather was beautiful with many families enjoying the day on Tautra. I just relaxed and talked to Andrew who was wearing a Yellowstone National Park T-shirt, a good starting point, and then Rune, both who shared information about Norwegian immigration to the States. The first immigrants went to the U.S. in the early 1800's due to a blockade during the Nepoleonic wars. Starvation also drove people to leave as the little arable land was not able to feed a larger population. During the Civil War a Norwegian regiment from Wisconsin fought for the Union. My own great great Grandfather, Anton Carenius Carlsen, was a seaman who jumped ship in New York in 1870.

I also learned that there is no official Norwegian language, but many dialects due to geographic isolation. Norwegians identify themsleves as "Not Swedish." I could go on and on about what I learned about Norwegians. I am 39 percent Norwegian, but am extroverted which helps when meeting Norwegians.

16 July 2017 Sunday. Another lazy, rainy morning followed by that delicious dinner. I then proceeded to the boat house to wait for Stian. While waiting I talked to Johan, the owner who lived in the boat house. Stian was a bit late, but Johan assured me that he would come. Sure enough, about 2:15 PM Stian and his brother show up in their 20 ft long, open boat. He assured me that the weather forecast allowed for the crossing. He also told me that Oda and Enya had called to tell him that I was fun! I had wondered how this very talkative America would come across to normally reserved Norwegians! Anyway, after signing a waiver of liability, and donning a life jacket, we were off.

Going under the bridge at the causeway brought us to much different sea conditions! The waves reminded me of our family vacation to the U.S. Virgin Island where my sailing from St. Thomas towards British Tortola almost led to disaster (see Summer Vacation in the Virgin Islands ). I had to turn around due to hurricane conditions in the channel between British Tortola and St. Johns, where we found much better conditions. Anyway, drawing upon that vast experience I suggested to Stian that we head to the southern shore of the fjord and follow the coastline to Trondheim. He agreed. We eventually made it to Trondheim where I wished him and his brother safe passage home. Stian told me that this was only the second time he had to take the coastal route due to sea conditions...a subtle way of letting me know that he knew his job.

I walked to the Nidaros Cathedral where I asked someone to take my picture at the 0 km marker. I then went into the cathedral where the attendant wanted to see my ticket. I pointed out to her that after walking many kilometers as a pilgrim to the Nidaros Cathdedral I shouldn't need a ticket. She agreed and let me in, but said that getting a free sticker at the gift shop would facilitate future admissions.

I then walked to the Pilgrim Center to see if they would give me a St. Olavs letter even though I may have walked less than 100 km...I don't know how far I walked when lost. The volunteer hostesses at the Pilgrim Center, Lis and Monica, told me that given the circumstances (no accommodations) they were flexible and I got my letter. The Norwegians are, if nothing else, pragmatic. They have many positive attributes other than pragmatism.

Stefan, who I had met in Munkeby, was there to greet me. We went to the 6 PM pilgrim mass (actually led by an Anglican priest) and then ate at an Italian restaurant, with "Real American Pizza!" It was great to meet Stefan again. I shared the pilgrims bunk room with several other pilgrims; the first time on my pilgrimage.

17 July 2017 Monday. I spent the morning shopping for brown cheese, trolls, and cold medicine, and touring the town as the weather was perfect. I passed a McDonalds, stopping only to continue my research on the cost of living as determined by the Economist Big Mac Index. Big Macs cost 93 Kr or $11.69. I bought a sandwich at a local deli instead. I attended an organ concert at the cathedral at 1 PM. Back at the Pilgrim Center I met Gun, who I had met back at Munkeby, and Gisela from Oberammergau, who had also been at Munkeby, but didn't meet as she had slept in. We attended a pilgrim discussion group at 4 PM where we shared our experiences with someone working on a doctoral disertation about pilgrims. We met several other pilgrims, including Hans from the Netherlands.

Gun, Gisela and I went to dinner at a different Italian restaurant...a bit more upscale than the pizza place the evening before. We had a great evening of conversation. Gisela and I talked all about Oberammergau, one of my favorite places in the world...the Wellenbad (which I saw as the model for the Woodland Aquatic Center nearing completion), the hiking in summer, and cross country skiing to the Etal Monastery and Linderhof Castle in the winter, the Passion Play, etc. We returned to the Pilgrim Center about 9 PM. It turns out that Gun also stayed in my bunk room.

18 July 2017. Tuesday. Time to go home!!! The rain had returned. I slept in and then had breakfast before it closed at 10 AM. I packed my backpack, left my Camelbak behind deliberately and my phone charger not deliberately, and said my farewells to my new pilgrim friends. I walked to the train station and took the train to Vaernes, passing through Hell for the third time; the first time in August 1968 and the second in June 1985. As a TB friend observed, I've been to Hell and back three times.

At the Vaernes airport I checked in and caught the flight to Oslo. In Oslo I learned that the flight to JFK was delayed over two hours. I let my daughter, Rosanna know. I met Ashley who had just flown in from Berlin and had her phone stolen, thus needing to send an email or Facebook message to those expecting her. So she used my phone linked to wifi. We ended up spending those hours talking.

While lining up to go through security a man asked if his daughter could ask me a question. I said yes. She saw my pilgrims walking stick with its engraved cross and asked if I was a Christian. I said yes. I asked if she was. She said yes. Her smile was precious. This was the second time a total stranger asked this as their first question to me. It must mean something...perhaps a blessing!

I flew Norwegian Air's Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the first time. It wasn't much better than other large jets, and Norwegian being a discount airline didn't provide anything as part of the airfare. I chose not to pay for a meal or movies, so the flight was boring and long. My son Will picked me up at JFK at midnight.

19-22 July Wednesday through Saturday. I spent the week with Will, my daughter Rosanna, her husband Evan and grandchild Connor. On Saturday we drove along the Connecticut coast to visit small seaports from the colonial period. We had lunch as an inn opened in 1776 in Essex. My visit was a nice relaxing time to recuperate from my walk and flight.

23 - 24 July Sunday and Monday. I took a local train from Brewster NY to Grand Central Station. From there I walked in the rain past Times Square to Pennsylvania Station and then Amtrak to Union Station in Washington, DC. Mike and Betty, friends from my days in Europe, picked me up and we went for lunch at a Belgian restaurant. They dropped me off at a hotel near Dulles. The next morning I flew home where Linda picked me up at the Colorado Springs airport at 10 AM.

So would I walk the St. Olavsleden again or recommend to someone else the walk? The St. Olavsleden is very different from the Camino de Santiago I walked last year (see blogs beginning with Camino de Santiago - Navarre - Getting to Know You).

As with the Camino, the St. Olavsleden has many ways to reach its ultimate destination; in my case from near the Swedish border to the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, where King Olav's body was taken after he was killed in battle in Stiklestad. And as with the Camino, a pilgrim only needs to walk the last 100 km, although as in my case, they are flexible.

I would recommend the St. Olavsleden to those who want to meet Norwegians as there are not many pilgrims. To do this a pilgrim should be outgoing as many Norwegians are too reserved to start the conversation. As for numbers, on the wall of the Nidaros Pilgrim Center is a map of the world with pins for where pilgrims have traveled; probably in the last year. Less than a dozen pins are in the map of the United States. Only about 1000 pilgrims walked to Trondheim last year compared to 270,000 to Santiago. But I was taken in by Norwegian families, which was the best part of the pilgrimage for me. In Spain you don't get to meet the locals like I did in Norway. It's all about people.

A pilgrim should also be naturally physically fit; not for those who train briefly before going. Norwegians love the outdoors, and think nothing of taking long walks as a weekend pastime. Not many walk the St. Olavsleden I took; probably because there is too much walking along shoulders, and because there are so many other trails to hike. I'm not particularly fit, so was exhausted after only 20 km. This distance was barely enough to get from one accommodation, mostly farms, to the next.

There are fewer accommodations and very few cafes/bars in between. Many camp along the way as the public has right of access so long as one leaves everything as they found it. Very few, if any, camp on the Camino as the public does not enjoy the same rights. The accommodations along the way are mostly farm houses (herbergers) which provide linens and towels, so these do not need to be carried in a backpack. I was able to keep my backpack weight to 10.5 pounds, and even then I took too many accessories. I never used my sun tan lotion, bug repellent or the few foot care articles I brought. The third pair of underclothes and socks did come in handy.

The Camino is more about history and architecture. Spain has many magnificent cathedrals. Norway is more about natural beauty, although the Trondelag region is not known for the steep sided fjords such as those found in the Bergen area. On the Camino Frances I walked Roman roads that go straight from point A to B. The Romans didn't build the roads in Norway. Norwegians used the fjords and the seas as their highways. Deviations from the direct route on the Camino are to ancient churches. The deviations from a direct route on the St. Olavsleden are to allow the pilgrim to see nature, not an historical site. The St. Olavsleden has historical roots based upon St. Olav; the Nidaros Cathedral and a few monastery ruins, but little more physical evidence of its Viking history. The long house and the loft house I stayed at in Stilestad were built recently as authentic versions.

Norwegian weather is maritime which means a lot of rain, like Galicia, Spain. Norwegians told me that this was the coldest wettest summer in 50 years. Norwegians say there is no bad weather; only bad clothing choices. Rain and cold does not deter them from outdoor activities. They only snuggle in a warm blanket next to a roaring fireplace with hot coffee or cocoa at night. I was fortunate in that the weather changed for the better when I arrived.

The St. Olavsleden also costs much more than the Camino...about twice as much for a bed and food. As mentioned above a Big Mac costs $11.63. The most expensive item is beer and other alcoholic beverages. Norwegians drink less beer that anyone in Europe due to the prices, and consume their annual ration in one or two nights where they get very drunk and more sociable. The Camino has inexpensive wine and beer, not to mention café con leche, at bars every few kilometers.

Norwegians aren't particularly religious, whereas the Spanish and so many pilgrims on the Camino are. Pilgrimages in Norway were banned by the Protestant church hundreds of years ago after the Reformation. The current trail from Sweden to Trondheim was marked in 2013. They are still working on the direction signs and improving logistics.

So please consider walking the St. Olavsleden if what I've described meets your criteria. If you have any questions please post them in the Comment section below.

Additional photos below
Photos: 116, Displayed: 45


21st July 2017

Simply wonderful!
Way to go Bob! I am so glad that you made the trip. You had been waiting this for long. And we waited to hear the story! I liked the bull,cow and the moo-moo part. You had the courage to take a photoshot before you were rescued by the driver. An of course you have to try the Thai food!! I admire your perseverance and we all take our inspiration from that. A big Thank You for sharing the great story with us!
21st July 2017

A life of travel
Seriously, what is the deal with those light switches? That happened to me in Greece once .... remind me to tell you that story next time I see you. Had to laugh at your opportunities to get lost. The Norwegian people sound marvelous. Why do you think there are so few pilgrims? This sounds like a great place to walk. Love the cow photos. We've been to the town of Hell on Grand Cayman. It's all about've summed it up well. That is how Dave and I feel about travel. We often go to pubs because people usually seem more talkative. I love the cow photos. We are eager to hear what adventure you plan for next year. Great blog.
21st July 2017

Why so few pilgrims?
Perhaps this blog will help spread the word to those where the St. Olavsleden is a great fit!
21st July 2017
Bob arriving at kilometer 0 at the Nidaros Cathedral on the tenth day

Oh to be a pilgrim
Well done Bob...Camino now St Olavsleden Pilgrimage. Reckon when the bell tolls you'll have no difficulty finding the stairway to Heaven.
21st July 2017
Bob with the St. Olavs letter

Just in case
You carry it like a passport to Heaven, Bob...or is a trophy!!!
22nd July 2017
Bob with the St. Olavs letter

Just a trophy!
Us goal oriented people love to collect such trophies. A lot of work for a piece of paper!
22nd July 2017
Along the way on the first day

like a postcard
Wow, this looks like it's straight from a stunning book of postcards. Love the blue bike which contrasts beautifully with the sight of the house and your insights on pilgrims. Nice trip you had!!!
22nd July 2017
Fish soup with Estrella beer

Comfort food
Now that is my kind of lunch.
23rd July 2017

What a walk !
hej Bob I have just caught up with your wonderful experiences on the walk. Am full of admiration for you, and sounds like it it very easy to get lost !!! I have experienced thata few times on walks in Sweden .. everyone seems to have made you welcome and that is the great thing about travelling ..the people you meet. That's what I find with my house swapping. I wondered if you had an average km per day ? Sounds like some of the walks wee quite long in between rest stops. Thanks for an interesting blog.
26th July 2017

Miles per day
The average was about 9 miles/day with the maximum of 11 miles. I like to keep the maximum under 10.
23rd July 2017
Crossing the river

Nice read
Last year we hiked in northern England for a week. We loved it and we are now looking for other interesting hikes. This just made the list of potential ones thanks to you./Ake
19th August 2017

Good Walk and Full of Interest.
Great to read this and hear about some of the other areas of Norway. As you know I go to Norway every year{ apart from this one }, and it is good to see there are plenty of options to go see. I will have to start planning next year when Di's leg is fully recovered. Clad the weather held up for you, which can be a problem sometimes, and when it is fine Norway can be an amazingly scenic place. Also nice people and great food.
20th August 2017

You have a choice of pilgrimages with Norway or Spain. I look forward to your choice!
23rd October 2017

Love the pilgrimages
I'm thinking about doing one of my own (or more) in Japan, I'm still deciding on which one though, they have several interesting ones. :)
24th October 2017

Japanese pilgrimages
Go for it! I've become acquainted with the pilgrimages in Japan as a consequence of my other pilgrimages. Many Japanese also walk the Camino de Santiago because of that connection.
6th February 2021

Dear Bob, Looking for more "unofficial" information about St. Olavsleden I meet your excellent description of your experience. Congratulations, your writing is amazing and sincere. I appreciate. As you kindly propose, I'd like to ask you some questions about the norvegian camino. 1. Did you need a sleeping bag or not ? In what did you sleep in the accomodations ? 2. Did you have to eat supper alone or could you eat with the families that hosted you ? Because I agree walking alone all day, but I hardly imagine eating every evenening and morning alone... 3. Did they allow you to use their washing machine or did you have to wash your clothes yourself per hand ? 4. Was it possible to find every day a food shop on the way or not ? 5. Did you have a correct wifi in every accomodation and the possibility to fill the battery of your mobile phone ? 6. In average, how much did you pay for bed-supper-breakfast in an accomodation ? 7. Did you get enough to eat or did you have to sleep with a half-empty stomach ? These would be the questions I'm asking myself. If I forget to ask something important, feel free to share it with me, I'm always interested in advices from experienced people like you. Looking forward to read you, I sent you my bests regards from the french speaking part of Switzerland. Yours Nicolas
7th February 2021

Response to yur questions
Thanks for reading my blog and for your comments. Here are some answers to you questions: 1. Along the way I stayed mostly at farmhouses where the bedding and towels were provided by the host at a nominal cost. I did so to meet Norwegian families. Also not having to carry bedding and towels lightened the load in my backpack. 2. I ate dinner and breakfasts with the families other than when I arrived late after the family had eaten. In that case, the host still prepared my dinner and we talked while I ate. 3. As with my Camino Frances experience, I washed the clothes that I wore that day by hand in a sink. The only exception was when I stayed at a hotel in Verdal where they washed and dried all my clothes for a nominal cost. 4. At the beginning in Stiklestadt and the end at Trondheim, I ate at restaurants with other pilgrims. Finding a place to buy food at lunchtime on the way was impossible as I was mostly in the middle of nowhere. For those days, the farm hosts would pack me lunch. One exception was Levanger, where I ate at a restaurant. On another day, I was resting near a house where a lady was doing her gardening. We talked and she invited me into her home where I met her husband. We talked about their trips to the US. I was served Norwegian pancakes! 5. I was able to use Wi-Fi at every location, and to charge my batteries. I didn't have a cell phone, but was able to borrow from people passing by when necessary. 6. Rooms averaged 400kr/night and 3 meals/day also averaged 400kr in 2017. 7. I got more than enough to eat! The food was delicious! I wish you the best on your pilgrimage!

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