Are you a virtual pilgrim yet?

Walk Norway’s Pilgrim’s Route without the expense of an international flight

Photo: Morten Dreier / Wikimedia Commons  Nidaros Cathedral in the winter sun. This is your goal.

Photo: Morten Dreier / Wikimedia Commons
Nidaros Cathedral in the winter sun. This is your goal.

Christine Foster Meloni
Washington, D.C.

At the beginning of this year, The Sons of Norway invited us to become virtual pilgrims and to walk the Old Kings Highway from Oslo to Nidaros (Trondheim). We could start at any time in 2014 but we had to complete the 623 kilometers (387 miles) by the end of 2015.

If you haven’t started yet, you still have time. This is a wonderful way to see Norway and to learn about its history, geography, and culture as an armchair traveler.

To begin your journey, go to the Sons of Norway homepage (www.sofn.com). Then click on Sons of Norway Virtual Pilgrimage under HIGHLIGHTS. After you log in, the Pilgrimage will appear.

Here you will find materials related to each stop along the way. But it is not only a question of you reading at your computer. You also have to walk! You will keep track of the miles you actually walk on the record card provided on the site.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons A marker along the route. Only 488 km to go!

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A marker along the route. Only 488 km to go!

I finally began my virtual journey last week. So far I have read all the materials for the first part of Leg A and have walked 20 km (12.4 miles).

My pilgrimage began in Oslo. I learned about Oslo’s history as Norway’s capital. I visited many of Oslo’s main attractions. I went to Gamle Oslo (Old Oslo) and visited the Medieval Park (Middelalderparken). Next I went to Memorial Park (also called Ruins Park) where I saw the ruins of Oslo’s oldest church, St. Halvard’s Cathedral, named after Oslo’s patron saint. I also visited the neo-Gothic Kampen Church and two Gothic churches, Østre Aker and Furuset.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons A neo-gothic church in Kampen, Oslo, is one of your stops along the way.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A neo-gothic church in Kampen, Oslo, is one of your stops along the way.

Then I went to the Stovner district in the northeast corner of Oslo where I visited the Stovner Senter, a very large shopping center with 100 shops. The last stop was Gjelleråsen, a village just north of Oslo. Here I took a tour of the bottling company Arcus AS, the largest supplier of alcohol in Norway.

I spent the night at Hotel Olavsgaard in Skjetten. It is a very popular first night destination for pilgrims. An impressive statue of St. Olaf stands in front of the hotel.

In addition to learning about the places I visited, I also read overviews of the history of religion in Norway and the importance of the Norwegian stave churches. I learned about the history of akevitt, too!

Photo: CH / Visitnorway.com A pilgrim has reached Nidaros.

Photo: CH / Visitnorway.com
A pilgrim has reached Nidaros.

I am now ready to go on to Checkpoint #2 of Leg A.

I would love to hear from any of you who are going on this pilgrimage. It would be fun to compare notes and encourage each other along the way. Contact me at cfmeloni@hotmail.com.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 26, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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