#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.
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.
#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.
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.
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.
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.