TRIP DESCRIPTION FROM FAROE 2016 1
TABLE OF CONTENTS 1 & 2. day : onboard Norröna . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 3. day : The voyage begins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 4. day : Vestmanna, Tjørnuvik & Saksun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 5. day : Gjogv & Slættarantindur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 6. day : Sandoy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 7. day : Nordøerne . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 8. day : Fugloy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 9. day : Trip back onboard Norrona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Top 10 experiences while Island hopping in the Faroes . . 20 Information & Inspiration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
DAY 1 – SATURDAY JUNE 25, 2016 The Voyage Begins
We have settled into a very comfortable cabin on board MS Norröna,
Oh, and one thing to bear in mind is that the cabin keycard should
the Smyril Line ferry sailing from Hirtshals, Denmark, to Tórshavn,
stay tucked in the bathrobe pocket and not, I repeat, not be allowed
Faroe Islands, on to Seyðisfjörður, Iceland, and back again. We are
to sneak out and soar across the Atlantic… That incident earned us
on our way to an island-hopping holiday in the Faroes. But, before we
a little extra stroll in bathrobes and bathing suits down to the Infor-
reach our destination, we need to set our bodies and souls to holiday
mation Desk on Deck 5. The service was friendly, efficient and fast
mode, and the tranquil (on our trip) 575 nautical mile/1065 km cross-
and Mogens was issued a new card. People trudged past us wearing
ing to Tórshavn is the perfect way to get in the right mood.
caps and jackets zipped up to their chins, it was could out there on deck after all… just not for us in the hot tub! The sun set over the
In the Sky Bar on Deck 8, we have booked ‘our favourite hot tub,’
coast of Norway and regaled us with the most ‘far out’ sunset hues
that is number 3, which has a nearly 180 degree view. At least if we
ranging from golden yellow to bright neon orange and finally deep
crane our necks just a little and lean forward over the edge of the tub.
red-violet hues. Wow!
At 9 pm Saturday evening (10 pm Danish time) we slid into the hot saltwater gently sloshing along to the ship’s gentle rocking. It had a captivating view of the endless Atlantic Ocean, and the wind and rain merely heightened the unique and stirring experience.
DAY 2 – SUNDAY JUNE 26, 2016 We slept like babies in the big double bed and enjoyed the little sofa
are. Gannets circle the ship taking advantage of the rising winds from
set in the cabin. We head down to the Norröna Buffet restaurant for
the bow. Fulmars follow us close to the ocean’s surface, and a little
an incredible breakfast buffet. It makes no difference which table we
flock of terns dashes past us towards the Shetlands. A solitary puffin
choose, they all have a view. We are on the lookout for the Shetlands
sails along majestically, but dives in a flash as we approach. It was a
and what William Heinesen in his book ‘The Good Hope,’ describes
wonderful experience and we certainly had our fill of the crisp ocean
as ‘a showering hose’ – whale spouts.
From time to time we take a stroll out on Deck 8 and let the wind whip
As the diary is being updated in the cabin, we sail past an oilrig,
our cheeks. We spot many different seabirds, recognizing the fulmar
which, as I write, is receiving a visit from a supply boat. Fascinating
and northern gannet, then, suddenly, we glimpse the Shetland Isles,
that there are such big workplaces out in the middle of the Atlantic.
like a shadow in the distance. After 20 hours of sailing and intense
scouting from Deck 8 through binoculars and cameras, the Shetlands
In the evening Simmer Dim Steakhouse, the exclusive a la carte
finally emerge. MS Norröna sails relatively close, so we can really
restaurant on board, dished up a fine meal in a relaxing environment
admire the 32 rough little ragged and fascinating islands right there,
with ocean views! We had delicious lobster, steak and saddle of lamb.
in the middle of the Atlantic. The closer we get, the more birds there
Another great on board experience!
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DAY 3 – MONDAY JUNE 27, 2016 Last night at around 11 pm we anchored in Tórshavn, the capital of the
After this we crossed a suspension bridge 35 m above the crashing waves
Faroe Islands with 18,700 residents, and found our hotel very easily. The
of the Atlantic. The bridge links Mykines to Mykineshólmur. It was
roads were clearly visible in the dusk light, even around midnight. We
fascinating to look down into the soaring swell and observe the many
spent the night at Hotel Føroyar high above Tórshavn with panoramic
birds, primarily kittiwakes, nesting on the vertical cliffs in the ravine.
views of the city and surrounding islands. It was designed by the Danish architects Friis & Moltke and nestles exquisitely and discretely between
We could make out our final destination from quite a distance, the
the craggy outcrops with its grass-clad roof.
island’s lighthouse. Only a few steps further out and we would be at the westernmost point in the Faroes. Here we took a well deserved break
We woke up to fog and mist; still the light was blinding and beautiful at
in the grassy hills high above the ocean with crackers and cheese and
times. And the weather is exactly the same this evening. But, in the in-
a view of the gannets’ favourite breeding ground, the free standing sea
tervening time, a lot has happened! On with the hiking boots, rucksack,
stacks Pikarsdrangur and Flatidrangur. The peaks and sides of both
long johns, fleece sweater, down jacket, cap an glows and jump aboard
stacks were practically invisible beneath thousands of snow-white
the boat from Sørvágur on Vágar island to Mykines island. An exhilarat-
gannets and their white droppings. The gannet, with a wingspan of 1.5
ing trip with a view of stunning green mountains. The closer we got to
to 2 m is the largest bird in the Faroes.
Mykines the bigger the swell, and the more the boat rocked. Sun-drenched and satiated from hiking and bird watching we sat down Mykines is known for its surf and in summer it can often be very heavy,
at the quayside in the sunshine to wait for the boat. We had a fresh rolling
though why is not exactly clear. This means that you cannot always be
45-minute sail back to Sørvágur on Vágar island.
sure to get home from the island. That is why the trip was top of our wish list. As the boat landed in Mykines the sun came out on a blue sky with
Gásadalur, the hamlet high on a mountaintop with magnificent ocean
only a few downy clouds. And stayed out the whole day.
vistas and a very difficult access from the sea, was a place we just had to visit. It was actually not until 2004 that the village got a tunnel
We hiked from the village along a track trodden over the centuries, all
connecting it to the rest of the country by road. Previously, you could
the way up to the mountain ridge. The sun baked, the paths were steep,
only get there by helicopter or a steep 4-km hike across the mountain.
our pulses rose… And we found ourselves taking off layer after layer. We
Up until 1873 they would carry their dead over the mountain and bury
ended up sleeveless and with our trousers rolled up. We walked up and
them in the neighbouring village Bøur. Today only 17 people live in this
down steep narrow ledges with breath-taking views of the Atlantic and
lots of sheep and lambs on the steep mountainsides. We also passed a memorial dedicated to those who perished in the mountains and at sea.
We had already driven through the subsea tunnel to Vágar on our way out, and therefore had to get a toll ticket listing the car´s registration num-
Our destination was Mykineshólmur trough lundaland, puffin territo-
ber and driver before we drove back. We purchased a return ticket at a
ry! The area is called Lambi and is one of the largest puffin breeding
petrol station for the price of DKK 100. There is video surveillance of the
grounds in the Faroes. Thousands of them flapped above our heads and
toll tunnels and you should therefore keep the ticket in case of inspection.
landed close by on the slopes where they have their burrows. Rarely have
To date, there are only two toll tunnels in the Faroes.
we experienced anything as mesmerising as this. We sat quietly in the steep hills and let our eyes roam across the great bands of puffins in the air and the lovely little birds in the grass only a few metres away. 6
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DAY 4 – TUESDAY JUNE 28, 2016 Today we are heading to Vestmanna. We are going sailing to see the
Tjørnuvík has a view of Risin og Kellingin, the Giant and the Hag, two
Vestmanna bird cliffs from the sea. We head out on the old mountain
freestanding sea stacks measuring 75 and 73 m, respectively. Legend
road Oyggjarvegurin, which until 1992 was the main road north from
has it that the Giant and the Hag were thieves, who under the cover of
Tórshavn. The old route winds its way high along the mountaintops
night gathered up the archipelago’s 18 islands. As they were making
and through Mjørkadalur, the Valley of Fog. And we had not driven
to drag them to Iceland, one of the islands gave way and the Giant and
many kilometres before we were nearly shrouded in white fog; the val-
the Hag got into an argument. And when the morning sun rose they
ley certainly lived up to its name. It was easy to imagine how difficult
turned to stone. They are beautiful and impressive, and it is definitely
it must have been, and is, at times to find your way on the foggy Oyg-
an entertaining legend.
gjarvegurin. Tjørnuvík is a village with myriad little grass-thatched black houses, In the little village Kvívík, we visit one of the Faroe Island’s oldest and
and it is famous for how the villagers still sing Thomas Kingo hymns.
best preserved Viking settlements. Two longhouses were excavated
In the middle of the little village we are tempted to coffee and waffles
here along with a host of arrowheads, fishing gear, pearls, jewellery
by one of the village’s Thomas Kingo singers, while Karen from the
and remnants of boats.
basement shop tried to lure us in with stewed rhubarb and Faroese girdle cakes.
As we reach Vestmanna it is raining a little, but never mind! We look forward to experiencing the grottos and bird cliffs. We were quite lucky
The hymn singer won us over. And he generously shared all his experi-
with the weather, it stayed dry and at times the sun peaked out on our
ences with the Thomas Kingo choir, which had given quite a number of
sailing trip. It was a beautiful trip, and we did see several caves, but the
concerts around Denmark. Karen from the basement shop offered good
Atlantic bared its teeth in the wind, so the captain chose to change the
advice on a great eatery on Viðoy and told us to say hello from Karen!
route for safety reasons. We cruised a very short way along the Vestmanna bird cliffs and after that along the steep mountains of Vágar and
A woman and a man came hiking from Saksun across the mountain
into a stunning grotto.
to Tjørnuvík. They had set off to mark the old cairns for the safety of hikers, particularly from abroad. They generously shared tips and ideas
In front of some caves there was an islet – a mini mountain everyone
for hikes. The chat was lively and informative around the little table and
used to refer to as ‘Meat Mountain.’ In the old days pirates, who would
benches in the hymn singer’s home. Everyone told us with a smile that
make off with anything edible they could find, often raided the Faroe
Danes were always the ones who headed into the mountains the earli-
Islands. The islanders themselves would flee up into the mountains
est and came down last! We always wanted to see so much and stopped
when pirates made landfall, safe in the knowledge that their large meat
so frequently on the way… Danes therefore had to calculate twice the
stores were safely hidden on the ‘Meat Mountain,’ which the pirates
hiking time as the Faroese or Norwegians. And it is true that we never
never saw any reason to search.
could stick to the times indicated for our hikes!
We observed several smaller bird cliffs with shags, fulmars, kittiwakes,
Several buildings in the village are also rented by artists through the
puffins and arctic terns. The European shag is protected in the Faroes,
Faroese artists’ association LISA, these include the old school. If we
whereas there are thousands of northern fulmars and they are almost
were artists we would, without a doubt, have applied for accommoda-
perceived as a pest.
tion for artistic inspiration.
On the very steep mountainsides sheep and lambs gambolled carefree.
Wonderfully enriched by culture and sharing with fellow humans we
The lambs are born on the steep slopes, and this is believed to be the
continued our trip to Saksun, not over the mountain, but along the
reason why they tread them with such familiarity. Several crude little
Stóra river. Here we just had to stop to enjoy the life affirming sight of
huts dotted the mountainsides. They serve as shelters for the sheep
a group of boys enjoying themselves sailing a raft in the river. The raft
when the weather gets too rough. The sheep are herded with sheep-
was made of two halves of a barrel tied together. They were having a
dogs twice a year for shearing and for the slaughter.
grand old time in the shallow river.
We sailed past several salmon farms, and the guide told us that the
We drove along a very narrow road to the little village Saksun at the
Faroes exported 66 thousand tonnes of salmon last year, the equivalent
bottom of Saksun valley. From the village we walked down into the
of 6% of the entire world’s salmon export. Pretty impressive.
narrow cliff ravine at the bottom of the valley to Pollur by the sea. We followed the river, walked in the moist sand on the riverbank, past a
When do you talk of a village and when is a place a city? When there
mighty lagoon and marvelled at the beauty of nature. Well, yes, we did
are fewer than 1500 residents, then it is a village. And we reached one
not manage to get all the way to Pollur by the sea. I chickened out… you
of those by an approximately 10-km-long winding and exceedingly nar-
had to watch the high tide, because as it comes in the riverbank disap-
row track practically plastered onto the side of the mountain. An un-
pears and in that case you have to climb the steep cliffs to get back…
paralleled panorama awaits us as we round the last mountainside and the path turns sharply downwards. Far below lies the village Tjørnuvík with its black sand beach caressed by the wild waves of the Atlantic.
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DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY JUNE 29, 2016 The fog came, thick and dense and it was like staring into a thick white
In the little village Eiði we went for a walk in the harbour and got talking
wall when we looked out from our hotel in Tórshavn. What a pity, we had
to some fishermen, who were unloading the catch of the day. They were
grown so fond of our enchanting 180-degree view from both the room
friendly and welcoming and took the time to explain that they had been
and restaurant at Hotel Føroyar over the city, harbour and the islands of
deep-sea fishing. Their crates were laden with blue ling, cod, Norway
Nólsoy and Eysturoy.
haddock and a spotted wolfish. The blue ling lives at the deepest depths, at 800 metres.
Never mind! We learnt that what they say is true. In the Faroes the weather can change from one hour to the other. So, don’t worry. We headed
A slightly smaller decked boat docked, and in the same friendly and wel-
out as planned to a little village in an idyllic setting, Gjógv, on Eystu-
coming manner the skipper told us that he had been at sea for 15 hours
roy island. We made it there along narrow winding pathways, and there
and now came in to land a catch of 2.5 tons, primarily haddock. And
was the village with its cluster of tiny black houses with white sash bars
that this was his last haul before the summer holidays. He used to sail
from times gone by. High above the ravine called Gjógvin by the Atlan-
out of Hirsthals on the Danish west coast, and we had just met his son
tic Ocean, the village Gjógv is located. Every year the village receives
in Gjógv where he, along with a group of other youths was laying a path
around 35,000 tourists, and one would think that this would lead to a
out to Mary’s Bench.
proliferation of cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops… But no, it is completely unspoiled and quiet. A little coffee house has not opened yet and
We had great talks with the crew of both boats. In the village we were
the place is shrouded in a peaceful idyllic atmosphere.
served homemade rhubarb tart with ice cream and meringue. So who cares about a little rain when openness and closeness between people
We strolled past Gjógv’s white church and into the little park above it.
becomes plain as day. It really warms the heart. And the Faroese excel at
It houses a deeply moving statue in remembrance of the village men who
spreading warmth, it comes entirely naturally.
died at sea. The statue depicts a mother with two children gazing out across the ocean. We, of course, also had to wander out to get our fix of
Then on our way we go, back to Streymoy and down to Gamlarætt on its
royal pomp and sit on Crown Princess Mary’s bench with its panoramic
southern side. From there we will catch the ferry to Sandoy island, which
view of the sea. The Danish royal couple Mary and Frederik visited Gjógv
is our next stop. Oh no! The ferry closed its bow right in front of our
noses; we were about 30 seconds late! Well, this gives us an opportunity to visit Kirkjubøur, which is the old bishop’s see. It was in use until the
Then we were set to explore Gjógvin (the ravine) more closely. A formi-
year 1540 or so. The Magnus Cathedral, or the thick walls of the old
dable gully, which you reach by carved stone steps. The Atlantic Ocean
cathedral, still stands and efforts to conserve and protect it are on-going,
reaches the bottom of the ravine and it has a little pier for small boats.
several areas are actually wrapped up. The walls are 1.5 m thick and
It is also fitted with a pulley system to drag the boats clear of the ravine
the room is 26.5 m long and 10.8 m wide. The remnants of the Magnus
and up into the village, where they are safe from the frothing waves of the
Cathedral are included on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites. We
Atlantic storms. The emerald mountain sides were lush, and inside the
stroll out to the old morgue, which is right down by the sea. A bit difficult
little caves in the ravine, carved by the sea over the centuries, the most
to access, but perhaps that is a deliberate choice, with the ventilation it
beautiful hues of purple, pink and green adorned the walls and ceilings.
offers. Today only a few stones remain, the rest is protected by plywood. One of the oldest inhabited houses in the whole world is also located
The weather was not too bad, with a little drizzle and passing dry spells,
here. Namely the well-preserved old black royal copyhold farm with red
so we went on a brisk walk up along the northern cliff side with a
window frames and a grass-clad roof. It is curious to see the four-wheel
beautiful view of the island Kalsoy. And is that not? Yes, it is! Here was
drive and camper van in the driveway, skylights in the grass-roof and a
another bird cliff with puffins, fulmars and arctic terns. On the slopes
child’s bike in the old storehouse. Life here is lived in harmony with the
we found the most beautiful plants, including northern marsh orchids.
This decorative little plant was everywhere. Just like the national flower of the Faroe Islands sólja, marsh marigold, which lights up every
We also visited the pretty little white church, St. Olaf’s Church, on the
mountainside, river and stream like the sun. Marsh marigold routes,
headland. It dates back to between 1250 and 1300 and is very simple.
Sóljuleiðirnar, is a name used for particularly beautiful stretches of road.
The altarpiece is new and depicts Jesus walking on water. It was painted
An amusing little anecdote. In the port we came across a tiny house - Á
by the Faroes’ first professional painter Sámal Joensen-Mikines. Kirk-
Látrinum… This made us think of… but, no, it was not what you might
jubøur was a lovely cultural and historical experience.
think. It was the name for the village museum. We found many such local museums.
The ferry Teistin brought us from Gamlarætt to Skopun on Sandoy. On the crossing we could admire the wondrous cloud formations around the
Slættaratindur, which means flat summit, is the tallest mountain in the
islands of Hestur and Koltur, which we had followed throughout the day.
Faroes with its 882 m. We drove along yet another winding road around
They were like hats, coiled around the summits.
Slættaratindur, met sheep and lambs, which, of course, think they own
the asphalt. But Slættaratindur we did not see. The summit was com-
We have arrived at Hotel Skálavík on Sandoy, and it is a quiet and very
pletely hidden in dense white fog. On the other hand, we did spot the
simple hotel. Perhaps practically the only place where you can spend
Giant and the Hag from a completely different angle. They looked minute!
the night on Sandoy. The hotel was donated to the village by a grateful
Though we were fully aware that they tower over 70 m above the sea!
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DAY 6 – THURSDAY JUNE 30, 2016 Sandoy is a mild verdant island with rolling mountains, white beaches
Just outside Sandur village we came across Bundni Steinurin, the
and dunes topped with lyme grass, but also rough exposed cliff faces.
Knitted Stone. It is four metres tall and has an 18-m circumference. The
We spent a little time admiring the charming little church in Skálavík
women in Sandur have dressed the stone in the knitted narrative of
with its grassy roof. Like many other churches it was locked, but that is
the witch Gívurin. And, would you believe it, we also managed to find
no reason not to peek in through the windows.
Gívrinarspor, the witch’s footprint in a stone. A huge dramatic footprint. The legend is very much alive.
In Húsavík I pretended for a moment that I was Húsfrúgvin í Húsavík, the Mistress of Húsavík, which is how the wealthy Guðrun Sjúrðardót-
After the spooky witch thrills, we began our 8-km hike of unparalleled
tir from Bergen was known. She lived here on her sprawling farm Hei-
beauty to Søltuvik. We crossed mountain areas with a host of sheep
ma á Garði in the 14th century. She was the most powerful woman in
and wide-open vistas of the landscape and ocean. The sun broke
the Faroes and owned all the land in Húsavík and Skarvanes, in addi-
through the cloud cover and reinforced the visual beauty to the back-
tion to quite a lot of land in the Shetland isles. Multiple ruins and stone
ground music of sweet birdsong.
houses testify to her passing. In the beautiful church in Húsavík, which was not locked, we could admire the altarpiece, a large beautiful canvas
In Søltuvik bay we came across a memorial stone flanked by two mas-
by Danish artist Svend Havsteen-Mikkelsen.
sive anchors. In 1895 the British steamer Principia was knocked off course by a violent storm. It drifted into the skerries and went down.
We continued to the village of Dalur along a very narrow and
Only one person survived by clinging on to a storage hatch. He was
challenging single-track road, seemingly glued to the mountainside.
saved after 14 hours at sea.
Dalur nestles picturesque in a valley among steep green mountains. Practically entirely cut off from the world, except for this ‘interesting’
Back in Sandur we could not resist a wander in the distinctive sprawl-
road built in 1964.
ing dune area by the broad sandy beach. The sun was shining. Little children were wading and playing on the seashore. We sat down, en-
Along a possibly even more challenging road, which we shared with
joyed the soft meditative lapping of the waves and the warm sun on our
flocks of sheep and lambs, we reached the unparalleled views of the
faces. What a lovely end to a wonderful and eventful day.
village of Skarvanes. The road ended here in this tiny hamlet with only 13 inhabitants. But we did not spot anyone and had to make do with the
Back at Hotel Skálavík we were invited to talk about our experiences
company of three ducks and several hens and roosters, who did make
in the Faroes on the national radio station, Kringvarp Føroya, in a di-
up for it by happily approaching us and eagerly pecking up our packed
rect broadcast called Ferðaliðið, the Travel Team. It was a lot of fun to
be able to talk about our wonderful experiences island hopping with Smyril Line from Hirsthals.
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DAY 7 – FRIDAY JULY 1, 2016
We are taking the ferry from Skopun back to Gamlarætt on Streymoy
Mikladalur, because this is where we will find Kópakonan, the Selkie.
at 10:30 am. And given that you cannot reserve a place on the ferry,
A fascinating 3 m tall bronze sculpture created by Hans Pauli Olsen.
which is relatively small, well, we just park our car in the line, don our
It does bring to mind our own Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. And,
raincoats and explore Skopun village.
of course, a heart-breaking legend is tied to the Selkie. Every year on Twelfth Night the seals swim up to the beach in Mikladalur, cast off
High above the village, almost like a beacon to sailors, a gigantic blue
their skins, transform into people, disappear into a big cave and cele-
letterbox looms. It is 7.42 m high and 4.45 m wide. It is so massive
brate. At sunrise they put their sealskins back on and head out to sea.
that, at the time of construction, it was listed in the Guinness Book of
Once, a young man from Mikladalur snuck down to watch the seals
Records as the biggest in the world.
arrive and fell in love with a beautiful selkie. He stole her skin, so she had to follow him home. He forced her to marry him and they had
We followed the gravel road out of town and continued along the trod-
several children together. He would keep the sealskin carefully locked
den path, high over the grassy mountaintop. We were rewarded with
in a chest and take the key out fishing every day. One day, however,
views of Streymoy, Koltur and Hestur and Trøllhøvdi (Troll’s Head) a
he forgot to bring it and announced to the other fishermen, ‘today I
rocky ocean outcrop off the coast. The outcrop is said to be a troll’s
shall loose my wife.’ And right he was. When he got home the seal-
head. He, sadly, lost it trying to connect the islands of Nólsoy and
skin was gone. He was deeply distraught, took his children by the
Sandoy. Misfortune would have it that he got his own neck caught in
hand, went down to the cliffs and scouted across the sea. Just off
the rope and when he tightened it, his head fell off. There are plenty
the coast by the cave a seal was observing them with mournful eyes.
such amusing legends linked to places dotted around the Faroes. In order to reach Norðoyggjar – the North Islands – we drive through
A fantastical myth and stunning statue, and fascinating hues on the
the subsea tunnel Norðoyatunnilin, which was inaugurated in 2006. It
mountain facing The Selkie. Walking right under the cliffs, because
was blasted 150 m under the sea and is 6.2 km long. The cost, a minor
you can get very close to them, feels like stepping into a saga.
detail, amounted to DKK 395 million. It is pretty wondrous to drive so deep inside the bedrock under the sea!
We reach the island’s northeastern village, Trøllanes, with its beautiful view of the steep cliff faces on the neighbouring islands. There
On Borðoy island we stayed at Hotel Klaksvík. A former seafarers’
are only a handful of houses here and very few people. But some
hostel. It is clean and cosy. We get a diminutive room with a beautiful
local has a nose for business; a big homemade sign with large letters
view over the city and harbour against the backdrop of the mountains.
entices people to ‘Come and buy,’ who might be behind this? It is a
Klaksvik is the second largest city in the Faroes with 4,605 inhabi-
schoolgirl selling coffee and home baked cake. And this is not even
the only ‘shop’ in Trøllanes. There is a little kiosk too. It was originaly a workman’s shed used during the construction of the tunnels. When
The Northern Islands are a group of six islands in the North East of
they were all completed in 1986, one of the entrepreneuring women
the Faroes. Three can be reached via bridges and the last three by
in the village took over the shed and now sells sweets to satisfy your
boat or helicopter. We immediately embark on an adventure with the
cravings. All you have to do is ring the bell when you have selected
ferry Sam to Kalsoy island where we drive through four long, very nar-
your purchase. We naturally also had to support this local initiative.
row and very dark tunnels. They, of course, have only a single track, just to add to the excitement! Fortunately there are very clear rules for
The trip home is just as exciting through the narrow tunnels that of-
who has to give way using the lay-bys that are carved into the tunnel
ten open out to a sharp hairpin turn as soon as you reach the light.
wall for that very purpose.
All these tunnels and the island’s characteristic shape have earned it the nickname ‘the recorder,’ it is plain to see why from neighbouring
Kalsoy is only 18 km long and 1 to 3 km wide, but from North to South
it is connected via four tunnels. We take a little detour to the village 14
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DAY 8 – SATURDAY JULY 2, 2016 This proved to be an indescribable day of exhilarating excursions and
We sat at a kitchen table with a view over the villages’ 20 to 25 houses
another encounter with the warm hospitality and welcoming nature of
– more or less abandoned – and the little pier. And coffee was served.
the Faroese. Overwhelming and fascinating.
The coffee warmed us up and suddenly the woman appeared again. This time carrying a big platter of open sandwiches with fish sausage and
An early start, on with the hiking boots and the rucksack carrying our
sheep salami. Yum, particularly after a long walk! She told us that the
packed lunch along with all the different necessary layers of clothes.
gourmet event, in addition to a mountain hike and Faroese food, was
We take the postal boat Ritan (which dates back to 1943) that sails from
themed on the legend of floksmenninir, the gang of robbers.
Hvannasund on Viðoy to the islands of Svínoy and Fugloy. Ritan is the only link tying these two north-easternmost islands in the archipelago
This legend is based on historical facts from the Middle Ages, and is
to the rest of the world. Well, not entirely. Like all other remote areas,
about a band of four men from precisely Hattarvík. Under the cover of
they have their own heliports. We have to leap ashore at Ritan’s landing
acting as freedom fighters for an independent Faroe Islands, they loot-
place in Fugloy. The boat is heaving up and down, but the skipper is
ed and controlled the Northern Islands for their own gain. All four were
good at keeping it free from the cliff and the sighing ocean, so it all goes
eventually sentenced to death, except Sjúrður við Kellingará, who was
pardoned. But he could not bear to live with the crimes they had committed and asked to be put to death with the others.
There are two villages in Fugloy: Kirkja, where we jumped off, and Hattarvík, where we will be picked up this evening. In Kirkja there are 26
The Faroese brewery Föroya Bjór had actually brewed a special Floksøl
people, and here too there is a tiny shop selling candy and knitted wares.
from angelica for this unique culinary and cultural arrangement. And
Of course, it only opens for about an hour, just after Ritan arrives. A few
before we knew it, this exceptionally hospitable woman came back car-
metres further along a little Faroese boy points us to Amalia’s house,
rying a 2-litre bottle of this special brew! Here you go, you should also
Fuglurin, the bird. Here, he tells us, we can buy a cup of coffee. The door
taste some! Wow, thank you very much, and suddenly we felt like we
opens and Amalia bids us inside with a broad smile and warm heart.
were part of this fancy event and the wait for the ferry felt very short and
And she immediately serves coffee, tea and hot freshly baked buns with
cheese and sheep sausage, as much as we can eat, at only DKK 50 per person. She also offers Faroese specialities when you book in advance
We also got to talk to the sheep breeder’s brother in law. He told us, with
‘a good meal’ as her business card reads. We would certainly like to take
warmth and pride in his voice, that he was born in Hattarvík and Hat-
her up on that the next time the Faroes beckon.
tarvík in the Faroe Islands was simply the best place in the world. Moreover, he was related to ‘the decent one’ of the four flokksmen! He was a
We walk along the asphalted village road for 5 – 7 km over the mountain
navigator on an approximately 82-m-long trawler and spent many days
to Hattarvík. On the way we are invited inside a little shed where the
of the year away. But he always returned to Hattarvík in his free time.
islanders are shearing sheep. A grin beams across a young man’s face
He himself owned 8 of the village’s houses and his brother, the sheep
when he hears that we are from Kerteminde. He enthusiastically tells us
breeder’s husband, owned 14. In addition to his brother and sister in
that his mother attended the arts and crafts folk high school in our town.
law’s sheep farming, they lived off tourist events, but generally much
The world is not such a big place after all. The sheep farmer happily
more modest ones than this gourmet arrangement, which was entirely
tells us all about sheep shearing. Right now in June/July the sheep are
sheared, so they will not be too warm. But what about the wool? Incredulous, we listen as he explains that it is no longer profitable to process the
Are puffins tasty? The navigator smiled and, yes, they are delicious, and
wool at all, at least not on the remote islands. The wool is sheared, piled
so is the common murre, he said! He told us that the puffin population
up and eventually burnt. All that good wool!
had been in decline over a number of years. One of the reasons is a decline in the puffin’s preferred food, sand eels. But the situation appears
We wander further into the heights, away from the road, and are awarded
to be improving. Each spring this navigator takes part in banding newly
with an amazing view. But the terns are not minded to let us enjoy it!
hatched chicks, so the population can be monitored.
Screeching, they flap around us and dive with their piercing beaks at
the ready! The message is crystal clear, ‘get off our nesting and breeding
Carrying unforgettable sensory experiences, we leapt back on board
Ritan and sailed the 45 minutes to Hvannasund on Viðoy. On the recommendation of Karen from the basement shop in Tjørnuvík, we now
As we reach Hattarvík we find a beautifully set table by the local woman
drove to Matstovan hjá Elisabeth, Elisabeth’s Restaurant, in Viðareiði.
sheep breeder’s home. It was a private outdoor gourmet event for around
And had we not known about this eatery, we would probably never have
60 guests and no fewer than three Faroese star chefs had been flown in
found it. A humble quite unremarkable blue wooden house, which did
to prepare Faroese specialities, while the guests were on a guided walk
not draw any attention to itself. Inside we were once again met by Faro-
in the mountains. The chefs were baking/roasting a lamb in a hole in
ese hospitality and friendliness and the tables were lovely dressed. We,
the ground clad with hot stones and covered with grass sward.
of course, just had to order the murre. And what wonderful food. The
cautiously ask the woman for a place to buy a cup of coffee. She shakes
meat was dark and firm and tasted like a blend of chicken, pheasant and
her head with a smile. ‘No, we don’t have one. We don’t have any public
game. Moreish gravy, white potatoes and braised vegetables, garnished
toilets either – But I would be happy to make you a cup of coffee and you
with red grapes. All the tables had an enchanting view of the valley and
can just go inside and use our bathroom. It’s the door on the right.’ What
mountains and the sun shone right until we drove back satiated with
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DAY 9 – SUNDAY JULY 3, 2016 Last day in the Faroes. Departure to Tórshavn.
Eagerly, the girl unlocks the basement under the café and there is Ove’s
But first we drive across the bridge to Kunoy, through the very narrow
little wooden boat Diana Victoria, which brought him to Langelinie, so he
Kunoy tunnel and along the western flank of the island with the most
could kiss the little mermaid. It is entirely unfathomable!
beautiful and clear views of the recorder island, Kalsoy. From here we could just make out the Selkie statue using our binoculars.
We passed the afternoon with one last wander into the heights, this time on Nólsoy. Curious by nature, I just had to lie down on my stomach for a
Back on Streymoy we once again drive high on the mountain ridge
glimpse over the cliff’s edge. After that sit still, gaze over the ocean and
through the Valley of Fog. Stunning and not so foggy today. From Tór-
let the thoughts meander among the many wonderful Faroese experienc-
shavn we take the 20-minute trip on Ternan to Nólsoy island. The sun is
es, which we would cherish after our island hopping tour!
shining again after quite a heavy shower. We eat our packed lunch in the harbour in Nólsoy. What a view.
MS Norröna lifted anchor late in the evening at 11:30 pm, so we went for a little walk around Tinganes and rounded off our wealth of experiences
The girl in the little café tells us that she is related in the fifth degree to
with full immersion at restaurant Áarstova, which is located in an old pro-
Ove Joensen. This rower is the island’s hero; he got it into himself that
tected building in Tórshavn. The place is very charming with small low
he would row across the Atlantic down to Copenhagen in a traditional
doors, sloping floors, intricate little rooms, exposed wooden beams, old
Faroese rowing boat. Two times he had to abandon the venture and was
curiosa and very friendly service and a good atmosphere. Not to mention
towed home from the Shetlands. But in 1986 Ove succeeded, it took him
the gastronomic meal. We chose a 3-course menu. We had lobster soup,
41 days to row the 900 nautical miles from Nólsoy to Langelinie in Co-
skate and an ice cream dessert. True, it was not cheap, but worth every
penhagen, only accompanied by a cat.
penny and highly recommendable.
DAY 10 – MONDAY JULY 4 AND TUESDAY JULY 5, 2016 Sailing home on board Norröna is pure luxury and relaxation.
We have enjoyed having our own car and being able to bring all the
On the crossing home we spend the night in a Deluxe Cabin with a big
equipment we wanted to have along and might need.
comfortable double bed. Another amazing morning buffet. Wonderful restaurants serving tasty food. And time to write the diary. To recall
There can be no doubt about it, sailing with the Norröna is a wonderful
all the delightful little details that accompanied the many experiences
and relaxing way to travel and a great part of the holiday. Smyril, by the
in our encounter with the Faroes and the Faroese people. From time to
way, means merlin in Faroese, and the merlin adorns the Smyril Line
time we stretch our legs, get some fresh air on the different decks. Relax
logo. The merlin is characterised by swift determined flaps of the wings
in the loungers in the sunshine and, of course, book an evening trip to
and a keen sight, the symbolism is spot on!
the saltwater hot tub! Føroyar – au revoir!
The bon vivants are Mogens anno 1947 and Rita anno 1949. They have lived in the US for four years and in Kuwait for two. They have travelled all the corners of the world, hiking, sailing, exploring adventures, often off the beaten track, and pushed their own boundaries in their quest for experiences, preferably not among great throngs of tourists. In 2015 they travelled to Iceland with Smyril Line and in 2016 they headed to the Faroe Islands. One time when their son had to describe his parents, he called them ‘ bon vivants.’
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TOP 10 EXPERIENCES WHILE ISLAND HOPPING IN THE FAROES • Hike on Mykines and Mykineshólmur through the puffin breeding grounds • Drive from Haldarsvík to Tjørnuvik • Sailing on postal boat Ritan • Meeting the woman sheep breeder in Hattarvik • The fishermen in Eiði harbour • Kópakonan – The Selkie in Mikladalur • The Thomas Kingo hymn singer in Tjørnuvik • The meal at Matstovan hjá Elisabeth • Breakfast buffet on board MS Norröna • Saltwater hot tub
INFORMATION AND INSPIRATION Non-fiction
• Tourist Guide 2016. www.visitifaroeislands.com
At hotels, restaurants and petrol stations in the Faroes there are
• Hiking in the Faroe Islands. www.visitfaroeislands.com (Invaluable
leaflets featuring information about all sorts of experiences. For us, it
resource for planning hikes – very useful to have in advance)
has always been important to have materials to hand in advance and
• Birds of the Faroe Islands. www.visitfaroeislands.com
become as familiar as possible with the country and the experiences it
(It is wonderful to have this material to hand and be able
offers. We therefore purchased and acquired free material in advance.
to immediately identify the birds we spotted)
In addition, the internet is an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
(By e-mailing email@example.com we quickly received
We particularly recommend www.visitfaroeislands.com
the three materials mentioned above by regular post, but it is,
Local activity calendar, mostly in Faroese www.Nordlysid.fo
of course, also available to download.) Internet and mobile phone in the Faroes Fiction
There is free Wi-Fi at hotels and many cafes and restaurants.
• ’The Good Hope’ by William Heinesen. A historical novel set in
All the places we visited in the Faroes had mobile phone coverage.
the Faroes in the 17th century. It deals with topics such as Danish
colonialism and the abuse of power (!)
Internet and mobile phone on board
• ’The Lost Musicians’ by William Heinesen
On board MS Norröna to/from the Faroes you can buy satellite
• ’Barbara’ by Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen. A Faroese romantic novel
internet access. You get a voucher with a code at the reception and it
based on a Faroese legend from the 18th century.
comes with very clear instructions.
OUR TIPS FOR GREAT EXPERIENCES Fascinating nature
• Freshly baked buns at Amalia’s in Kirkja
The whole of the Faroes Islands is one big nature experience
• Coffee, open sandwiches and Floksøl beer in Hattarvík
To mention a few
• Restaurant Áarstova, Gongin 1, Tórshavn
• Bird cliffs • The ravine in Gjógv
A bit of this and that
• Saksun valley
• The fishermen in Eiði harbour
• Beach and sand dunes in Sandur
• Thomas Kingo hymn singer in Tjørnuvík • The warmth of Amalia in Kirkja
Wonderfully refreshing sailing trips
• The hospitality of the woman sheep-breeder in Hattarvík
• Sørvágur to Mykines
• The navigator from Hattarvík
• Along the Vestmanna bird cliffs
• The memorial in Gjógv
• From Hvannasund to Kirkja with postal boat Ritan
• The Norðoyatunnilin subsea tunnel • Kalsoy’s four dark narrow tunnels
• Kópakonan – The Selkie in Mikladalur
• Mykines and Mykineshólmur through the puffin breeding ground
• The story of rower Ove Joensen and his boat
• Saksun to Pollur • Fugloy from Kirkja to Hattarvík
Cultural and historic highlights
• From Sandur to Søltuvik in the witch’s footsteps
• Húsavík • Altarpiece by Svend Havsteen-Mikkelsen
Challenging, hair-raising, fascinating, breath-taking drives
• Kvívík Viking settlement
• Húsavík to Dalur
• Kirkjubøur with the Magnus Cathedral
• Haldarsvík to Tjørnuvík
• Faroese hospitality and helpfulness
• To Skarvanes along road No. 37 from road No. 30 • Sørvágur to Gásadalur
Highlights on board MS Norröna
• Oyggjarvegur with the Valley of Fog
• Hot tub saltwater bath
• Hvalvík to Saksun
• Deck loungers
• Funningur to Gjógv
• Deck 8 sundeck • Breakfast buffet
Delightful dining experiences
• Simmer Dim Steakhouse
• Lobster and lamb at Simmer Dim Steakhouse on board Norröna
• Deluxe Cabin
• Common murre at Matstovan hjá Elisabeth on Viðareiði
• Drinks at Sky Bar
• Packed lunch by the lighthouse on Mykineshólmur
• The ocean breeze and views across the Atlantic
with views of the gannet colony
• Sitting on the back deck following the ship’s wake
• The generous breakfast buffet on board MS Norröna
Yviri við Strond 1 · P.O.Box 370 · 110 Tórshavn · Tel. +298 345900 · Fax +298 345901 firstname.lastname@example.org · www.smyrilline.com · facebook.com/smyrilline.com