Having walked many versions of the Camino de Santiago, we were gleeful at the idea of walking one of the St Olav Ways in Norway, the Norwegian version of the Camino. The route we chose from Oslo to Trondhiem, called Gudbrandsdalsleden, takes in 643km of Norway’s best scenery. However, the Norwegian Camino is an altogether different experience to it’s Spanish counterpart. Here are our 12 quirky things that we found when walking the Norwegian Camino.
- Red paint everywhere
- No litter
- It is oh so quiet
- Self-Service Accommodation
- Right to Roam
- Everything is aesthetic
- Norwegian hobbies
- Drinking water
- Cinnamon Everything
- Robot Mowers
- Supermarket Seating
Red paint everywhere
Part of the Norwegian aesthetic that you’ll definitely remember if you walk the Norwegian Camino, is the colour red. From farm buildings to houses and even the St Olavs sign posts – it’s all the same colour red. This gives a feeling of uniformity across Norway, whichever region you are in. It left us wondering if we could invest in the company making a job lot of this red paint!
There’s a bit of history to the red paint. Allegedly Norwegians are allowed to paint their properties one of three colours. Historically the red colour was the cheapest colour to produce, as it was mixed with fish oil. Today, we think it’s chosen just because it looks so good in contrast to the blue water and green grass
Norway is incredibly clean. One of the first things we noticed when walking the Norwegian Camino was the lack of litter. We saw one or two pieces of litter across 600km.
From speaking to locals, we know that Norwegians are encouraged to take personal responsibility for their environment. This may be one reason for the lack of litter.
The second reason may be that Norway has a state of the art recycling system. It’s a deposit system meaning that shoppers receive money back if they return recyclable items to a machine in the supermarket! We even witnessed kids fishing cans out the bin so that they could take them to the recycling point.
It is oh so quiet
Possibly the second thing we noticed as we left Oslo behind and embarked on our walk to Trondheim, was just how quiet Norway is beyond the big cities. There’s no loud music, no raised voices, no noise at all really. Even the cars (all mostly electric) are silent too.
For a pilgrimage, this is perfect. The stillness and silence allows you to flow into a meditative state as you walk. But remember, use your indoor voices only as you walk, anything louder will stand out!
One of the big differences between the Norwegian version of the Camino and the Camino de Santiago, is accommodation. On the Spanish route, you’re most likely to stay in an albergue (hostel.) Whereas on St Olavs way, there’s a much wider variety of accommodation. From farm stays, to log cabins and camping.
Checking into accommodation in Norway is a little different too. We were surprised when we arrived at our first cabin to note that it was “self serve”. Simply turn up, settle in and leave some money when you go! This can feel a little disconcerting at first, but once you learn that it’s totally normal, it’s a fabulous system.
You can find out more about accommodation on St Olavs way here.
Right to Roam
Norway has an established right to roam. This means that anyone is allowed to wild camp in nature, within a few limits. For example, you must be over 150m from an inhabited property. This is one of the amazing things an out walking the Norwegian Camino! As you can pick the cutest camping spots to spend the night.
You can find out more about camping on St Olavs way here.
Everything is aesthetic
Of course we all know how chic Scandinavian design is, but this definitely stands out on the Norwegian Camino. And it certainly extends to pilgrims accommodation.
We stayed in some incredible places, including home stays and farms that were decorated splendidly. The attention to detail was phenomenal. Each had a homely and cosy aesthetic, backed up by soft furnishings and delightful little design touches.
You can find out more about accommodation on St Olavs way here.
Norwegians like to get outdoors in the summer. Who can blame them with such incredible scenery and nature, plus the extra hours of day light.
It seems that everyone has a sporty hobby in Norway, from running, hiking, trampolining (50% of houses we saw had trampolines outside) to fishing. But the one that we loved to see, was the roller skiing. No matter how fast we walked, these guys always seemed to be going faster than us.
There are one or two drinking water fountains on the route. But mostly you’ll have to fill up at your accommodation. However, one thing that Norway does have is some of the cleanest natural water in the world.
A few times we had to collect water from fresh running streams, especially in Dovrefjell. You have to be a little discerning about which water source you choose, and you can of course use water purification tablets to be sure. But we were so pleased to be saved by the streams!
Norway pilgrims diet
The Norwegian Camino offers up some fantastic food. But expect to eat a few things on repeat (especially if you’re on a budget): soup, lompers (potato tortillas), bread, an array of sweet things with cinnamon and of course, tinned fish!
One way that Norwegians seem to keep their properties looking so neat and tidy is taking care of the lawn. It seemed that every house we passed has a little friend to help them.
Buzzing around like pets, the little robot mowers are all business but they still look quite cute in the process! So important are the robot mowers, that we were twice told to move our tent on campsites to clear the way for the mowers morning meander.
Outside of Oslo, Lillehammer and Trondheim, we didn’t really see any bars! And only one or two cafes. But, supermarkets are a frequent feature of most towns and villages. Even better, supermarkets invariably have picnic tables or seating outside the shop. This is great for hungry and thirsty pilgrims, who can shop at supermarket prices and enjoy a rest with refreshments.
I’ve read that most foreigners visiting Norway who try the local spirit Aquavit, hate it. Well we tried it on our walk from Olso to Trondheim and developed quite a taste for it! A quick dram is the perfect way to end a day of hiking on the Norwegian Camino.
Some of the camping equipment we used. Find them on Amazon!
Night Cat Instant Popup Tents 2-3 Persons with Footprint Tarp Easy Setup Camping Tent – we love this tent as it takes no time to put up and down. We times ourselves, around 1 minute. It’s also super lightweight.
Hyke & Byke Eolus 15 F Hiking & Backpacking Sleeping Bag – 3 Season, 800FP Goose Down Sleeping Bag – Ultralight, you will most likely need a 3 season sleeping bag as it could get cold even in summer.
50L Hiking Backpack Men Camping Backpack with rain cover 45l+5l Lightweight Backpacking Backpack Travel Backpack
POWERLIX Ultralight Sleeping Pad for Camping with Inflating Bag, Carry Bag, Repair Kit – Compact Lightweight Camping Mat, Outdoor Backpacking Hiking Traveling Camping Air Mattress Airpad – essential for avoiding the cold floor.
FREE SOLDIER Waterproof Hiking Work Boots Men’s Tactical Boots 6 Inches Lightweight Military Boots Breathable Desert Boots
Berghaus Men’s Rain Jacket Waterproof Hydroshell – best in class for waterproof jackets.
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Most of our planning is done using other blogs, but you can’t beat a guide book at the bottom of your case. Find yours on here on Amazon and get the travelling started!
How to walk the Norwegian Camino: Oslo to Trondheim on St Olav’s Way
Norway Travel Guide by World Citizen
Lonely Planet Norway
Rick Steves Scandinavia
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