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This French blogger walked on foot from Lillehammer
to Trondheim

French translator Pauline left Berlin to go on an ancient Norwegian pilgrimage – and got the tattoo to prove it.

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“I needed a break from my life and work.”

Last year, French translator and blogger Pauline had just quit her day job in Berlin and was talking to a friend who'd gone on a pilgrimage on foot through Spain. Inspired, she felt like taking on a similar challenge – with a slight twist.

“I'm really into Scandinavian landscapes, so I started looking for a trail that would be more up north.”

She wound up picking one of the St. Olav Ways, named after King Olav Haraldsson. He was the man who Christianized Norway before succumbing to a mortal wound at the battle of Stiklestad.

 

The freedom of walking :) #pilgrimage #pilgrim #norway #vegan #vegansofig #nature #mountain

Et innlegg delt av Pauline (@thelovelyveggie)

Among the many pilgrimages that can be found in Norway, this is one of the longest. Starting out in Lillehammer, Pauline hiked nearly 500 kilometers on the way to Trondheim, her final destination – walking on roads and paths, over rivers and mountains, through forests and fields.

“Except for a few times when I had to take a car for a few kilometers because of the bad weather conditions or bad body aches, I covered the entire distance by foot,” she says.

“As a pilgrim would do.”

Along the way, she recorded her journey for a video blog series she is currently publishing on YouTube:

 

She slept outdoors for a lot of her trip. It was challenging at times, but says it did make her feel closer to nature.

“The landscapes have been the most amazing I’ve ever seen. It would change from high trees and very green and stony environments to small bushes, moss and mud. We saw waterfalls and lakes and we even drank water from them as it was so pure. I felt such a communion with nature and was blown away every time I looked around me.”

 

Waterfall yoga! #nature #wilderness #wildlife #wild #pilgrimage #pilgrim #yoga #waterfall

Et innlegg delt av Pauline (@thelovelyveggie)

However, there were some setbacks. Particularly when she lost her bearings on the third day of her journey.

"I have a really bad sense of direction and thought I would manage to follow the signs and not get lost. Finding out I have been circling for six or eight hours, all that energy and motivation gone – it really felt demoralizing. But I had no choice other than to keep on walking, right? And I met amazing people who cheered me up and put me back in the right direction."

 

Pauline maintains two blogs and is also a video blogger, dealing mostly with travel and her experiences with veganism. In Norway, she maintained her vegan diet by picking up instant soups, lempas, spinach, bananas and apples.

“For the first few days, I ate mostly bread, avocados and protein bars. Then, I switched to peanut butter and it became an addiction,” she says.

“As I was walking up to 35 kilometers a day, I really needed to eat my calories. After a few days on sugar and fat, I was craving raw veggies so much.”

Among the food she made on the road was a porridge (or 'grøt', as it is known in Norway) with rolled oats, nuts, bananas and hummus, which she demonstrates in this video:

 

Though the pilgrimage could have been a lonely affair, Pauline happened upon a girl from the Netherlands and they joined forces.

 

“We even used a cabin in the forest once, because it was pouring and we couldn't pitch our tent in the mud. We called it ‘the viking cabin’.” 

The next morning, the man who owned the cabin arrived with his grandson.

“They told us we were welcome to stay. There are so many stories of people who hosted us, who gave us food, money, shelter and kind words.” 

After 24 days on foot, she finally reached Trondheim and the Nidarosdomen cathedral, completing the journey with the people she had met along the trail.

We walked three times around the cathedral, like Olav did in his time. Although I am not a religious person at all, we wanted to follow tradition.” 

Her arrival coincided with her birthday – which happens to be on the same day that Olav died.

“I celebrated my birthday with all my pilgrim friends in a middle-age market, and that's a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

She carries a solid reminder of the trip with her every day:

“I got the tattoo from the pilgrim cross on my leg.” 

Pauline will be posting more video blogs from her pilgrimage on her YouTube channel Veggie on the Road.

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