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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

#BloggerPilgern: Our Pilgrimage to Mariazell along Via Sacra in Lower Austria

#BloggerPilgern. A pilgrimage puts different souls on similar wavelengths. At some stage, the moment has come where everybody is looking for the same thing, feels the same thing, thinks the same thing. I am so tired. What are we eating tonight? Where do we go? How far is it? But also thoughts like: I am so proud of myself. Wow, … we can do this. It works. It is so beautiful here. The landscape. The mountains. Exercising in the fresh air. The mind is set free, allowing the soul to breathe and smile.

A little while ago, I came back from an intense and beautiful journey: My first pilgrimage together with fellow travel bloggers in the Lower Austrian Mostviertel district! I really love this part of my home country, as you can read in all those stories I have written about the Mostviertel before. Right at the beginning, one of my travel companions quietly told me that she thought she would never be able to do the Via Sacra pilgrimage with us. 20 – 30 kilometres a day, four days in a row … We would honestly recommend only to walk a maximum of 20 – 25 kilometres a day so as to have time (and energy) to visit all the interesting sights along the way. Mighty Lilienfeld Abbey for instance, the oldest medieval abbey in Austria. The stunning castle ruin of the Araburg. The natural monument of the Falkenschlucht gorge. Beautiful Heiligenkreuz Abbey. There is a lot to see here on the traditional pilgrimage route to Mariazell called the “Via Sacra“, or holy trail, as countless pilgrims have proven over the course of many centuries.

#BloggerPilgern durch das Mostviertel entlang der Via Sacra in Niederösterreich.

#BloggerPilgern: Our pilgrimage road along the Via Sacra in the Lower Austrian Mostviertel district.

Zum Pilgern gehört mitunter auch, richtungsweisende Gespräche mit lieben "Mit-Pilgern" zu führen ... Hier mit unserer Pilgerbegleiterin Maria auf dem Weg nach Mariazell.

One amazing part about pilgrimage is the many insightful talks you have with your travel companions, such as Maria our pilgrim guide for the day to Mariazell.

Auch das regionale Genusserlebnis darf dabei nicht fehlen: Prost mit spritzigem Most aus dem gleichnamigen Mostviertel hier in Niederösterreich!

Of course, we should never forget to celebrate those moments in between: Having a toast with typical Mostviertel pear cidre here!

 

Starting off our #BloggerPilgern adventure, we are well advised to listen to charming Christa Englinger during our stay at the small town of Hinterbrühl in the Vienna Forests. Christa unrolls the history and tradition of pilgrimage for us, providing the ideal context for what we are about to experience. What is a traditional pilgrimage? Who were the first pilgrims in history? And who is on a pilgrimage, and how, during the 21st century? Questions & answers that ring true within all of us: So many people are “on their way” today. There is power, and also peace, in embarking on a journey such as a pilgrimage, taking the time, watching your emotions and thoughts while gaining strength in the process. Pilgrimage has never gone out of fashion really – and celebrates a comeback in this fast-moving, often overwhelming world of ours.

 

Frohen Mutes am ersten Tag, sind wir voller Energie und bereit für die Botschaften und Erkenntnisse des ersten Tages unserer Pilgerschaft.

Happy, full of energy and open for what the way has to teach us, on the first day of our pilgrimage along the Via Sacra in Mostviertel.

Die Landschaft, die uns ringsum begleitet, ist aber auch zu schön um wahr zu sein ... Tief Luft holen, sich überraschen lassen & Bereitschaft zu zeigen für die Wunder und Anblicke am Wegesrand lautet die Devise.

The landscape, too, does its part to unravel the magic for us … Just taking a rest, looking and feeling, is part of being a pilgrim. Allow yourself to be surprised by the beauty of the moment.

Von der Kirche am Hafnerberg sind es noch rund sechs Kilometer nach Kleinmariazell, dem ersten Etappenziel unserer Pilgerreise im Mostviertel. Was die Eindrücke des ersten Tages betrifft, so könnt Ihr diese hier detailliert nachlesen!

From this church at Hafnerberg, it is another six kilometres to walk to Kleinmariazell, our first destination for the night. Were we knackered? Were we glad? How did we feel? Read more about our first impressions in my pilgrim’s diary here!

#BloggerPilgern Pilgrimage Day 2: Taking one step at a time. Literally!

The second day of pilgrimage at the Via Sacra has really proven hard for me & my pilgrim companions. We all had to deal with the exhaustion of Day 1, including blisters and muscle ache. We did however manage to continue, literally putting one foot ahead of the other. Until we reached the conclusion that less is often more, showing the “courage to renounce”: A good part of today’s kilometres were covered in a taxi. What a relief! We pampered our feet. Relaxed at Gasthaus Löffler in Wiesenfeld (stop here for some Dirndl schnapps & beautiful pear cidre!). Received a pilgrim’s blessing at Lilienfeld Abbey, the oldest medieval abbey in Austria, where we also spent the night in cosy comfort rooms.

This day, too, was beautiful – in its own special way.

Blick in die traumhafte Landschaft des Mostviertler Alpenvorlandes von der Via Sacra aus.

The magic of the Via Sacra pilgrimage route unfolds in front of our eyes.

Pilgergefährtin Tanja beim erfrischenden Fußbad unterwegs: An der Kneippkurtretanlage im kleinen Ort Hainfeld geht es uns schon wieder besser .. !

My pilgrim companion turned into friend Tanja: Here we are, happily taking our shoes off and enjoying a cold Kneipp bath in the small town of Hainfeld. What a relief to our feet !

An diesem Abend "feiern wir unsere Füße": Fast 50 Kilometer haben wir hier schon zurückgelegt, zur Belohnung gibt es den "Spa Walk" auf dem kühlen Steinboden des altehrwürdigen Stiftes.

Celebrating more than 50 kilometres walking in less than two days, merits a photograph of our dear feet who have carried us all the way. I will never forget the beautiful sensation of the cool stone floor at Lilienfeld Abbey against my burning hot feet. Lovely!

Den Pilgersegen spendet uns Pater Pius im Stift Lilienfeld, bevor es zur dritten Tagesetappe entlang der Via Sacra im Mostviertel geht.

Before we head off on our third day, we receive a pilgrim’s blessing at Lilienfeld Abbey, following the tradition of many centuries past.

 

The third section from Lilienfeld to Annaberg has one thing to offer in particular: The beautiful Falkenschlucht gorge, a true “force of nature”!

Yes, we faced well over 500 metres of uphill trail on this day. No, we no longer became desperate. Tanja managed to walk a good deal in Flip Flops, allowing her feet some rest from squeezing back into her hiking boots. Hubert simply pulled himself together. Oliver often sat alongside the way, chilling out every now and then. Monika kept smiling, though exhaustion sometimes threatened to take her breath away. As for myself? “If you get stuck in a rut, change“, I noted down recently about the philosophy of learning how to surf in Porgutal. These thoughts now resurfaced during my pilgrimage in the Mostviertel district. I then changed from my sports shoes into my hiking sandals, which proved to be a great relief. At once, my strength came back, allowing me to focus on the exercise and on the way, opening up further thoughts and emotions that were no longer troubled by pain and exhaustion. It is pretty much like in real life: Change a small detail, and you are able to reach a totally different level of perception. Let me tell you what it was like on this third day of our pilgrimage in more detail here.

Die liebe Tanja hat gut lachen: Munter des Weges in ihren neuen, bequemen FlipFlops!

Tanja is happy as: Walking in Flip Flops is her relief for the day!

Ein bisschen sehen wir ja doch wie Helden aus, als wir den Weg durch die wunderschöne Falkenschlucht antreten ...

Now I do believe we look quite like heroes, walking up the beautiful Falkenschlucht gorge here …

... die landschaftlich wirklich einiges zu bieten hat ...

… the landscape offering us beautiful mountain vistas and great nature to walk in …

... und uns den Weg in das schöne Annaberg weist.

… each moment being a gift: Shortly before reaching the small town of Annaberg, we have climbed to more than 1.000 metres of altitude above sea level!

An diesem Abend fühlen wir uns nach einer erfrischenden Dusche tatsächlich wie wahre Helden! Jetzt steht uns nur mehr ein Tag bevor, um den berühmten Pilgerort Mariazell zu erreichen - es ist nicht mehr weit ...!

Pilgrims after a shower and some food: Very happy pilgrims! It is not far now, only a day more to reach the final destination of Mariazell from Annaberg here.

 

All the way from Annaberg to Mariazell, pilgrim guide Maria Kvarda has beautiful stories and words to share with us. Her spirit even encouraged us to produce a TRAVEL VIDEO of a kind – “Happy Pilgrims in Austria” … !

Blessed are you Mary, full of Grace … Actually, none of us prayed a lot during this pilgrimage – or perhaps each one in a more intimate, personal way. I think of myself as a more spiritual than religious person anyway – Tanja has questioned me all about this in her interview about pilgrimage & life on her travel blog! As for our dear pilgrim guide Maria, she has come to “save us” really, entertaining us to beautiful stories on this last day of the Via Sacra to Mariazell. Thanks to her, we are inspired to see the beauty in everything, even on this last day of walking, where all of us are just so exhausted. I do believe we might have given up before the end, had it not been for her strength and willpower to keep us going. This last day of pilgrimage has become the favourite in my memory, full of beautiful thoughts and insights about life and what really matters in this world.

Begegnungsqualität auf der Via Sacra: Am Josefsberg treffen wir auf die nette & charmante Bürgermeisterin von Annaberg namens Petra und tauschen uns mit ihr über unsere Weggedanken aus.

Meeting more people along the way, such as the mayor of Annaberg, allows us to fully connect with the spirit of the places we visit as pilgrims.

Monika begibt sich zudem auf Entdeckungsreise zu den Einheimischen ...

Monika too reaches out to more of the local people …

... während ich mal, auf Maria's Geheiß, den "schönen Blütenengel" mime. ;)

… while I have to relax. Yes. 😉

Jetzt ist es nicht mehr weit ...

Not far to go to Mariazell now …

... fast schon ungeduldig blicken wir dem Ende unserer Pilgerschaft entgegen ...

… we are getting excited, almost anxious and impatient, to reach our goal, finally …

... und als die berühmte Basilika in Mariazell endlich auftaucht, fällt alle Anstrengung von uns: Blick auf gelobtes Land, nach fast 100 Wegkilometern und 2.000 Höhenmetern Pilgerschaft ...

… the beautiful basilica of Mariazell. Thank God. After almost 100 kilometres and nearing 2.000 metres of uphill & downhill walk in the course of four days, we have come to be silent, proud and emotional arriving here …

... können wir eigentlich nur mehr grinsen: Meine Pilgerjungs Hubert (links) und Oliver (rechts) zusammen im Hotel Zum Kirchenwirt von Mariazell.

… only managing this smile really: Me & my pilgrim companions Hubert (left) and Oliver (right). So proud: We did it – Happy Pilgrims!

 

This particular feeling of pride and happiness is what I would like to share with you now. In the most engaging way possible. Yes, we have shot a pilgrim’s video about our journey along the Via Sacra! The name? “Happy – We Are Pilgrims in Austria” takes its inspiration from a series of international “Happy Videos” based on the famous song by American singer Pharrell Williams. Check this out – #BloggerPilgern in its happiest and purest sense. 😀

More blog posts, travel tips & emotions about our pilgrimage in the Mostviertel district have been written and shared by my dear companions Oliver Zwahlen (Weltreiseforum), Monika Baum (Entdecker-Greise), Hubert Mayer (Travellerblog) and Tanja Klindworth (Wellness-Bummler) and here: http://www.viasacra.at, all worth checking out!

 

Disclaimer: We have been invited by Mostviertel Tourismus to go on this pilgrimage along the Via Sacra to Mariazell. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

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1 Comment

  1. #BuenCamino: Preparing for the St James Way in the Wachau valley of Lower Austria - Elena Paschinger Creativelena | Reise-Blog, Sprachen, Übersetzungen, Tourismus-Beratung, PR & Social Media | Elena Paschinger

    […] hike I have ever done was 80 kilometres in three days tramping through New Zealand bush, or four days along the St James Way from Hinterbrühl to Mariazell in Lower Austria – including some 2.000 metres of difference in altitude …! Jogging, skiing, hiking, I […]

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