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I have had the Faeroe Islands on my list for years. Technically, it is just another part of my homeland; Denmark, but it is so different! And where the former 120 countries I have visited had their own Lonely Planet guidebook, this one has none, not even in Denmark or Scandinavia! Talk about unknown territory!
The Faroe or Faeroe Islands, Faroese: Fųroyar and in Danish: Fęrųerne, are a North Atlantic archipelago located 320 kilometres north-northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland. The name actually started out as the "Sheep Islands" in old Nordic. It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
The islands have a total area of about 1,400 square kilometres with a population of 52,110 as of January 2020 - and around twice as many sheep. The vast majority of the population are ethnic Faroese, of Norse and Celtic descent. Faroese is spoken in the entire area as a first language.
The Faroe Islands are an island group consisting of 18 major islands and a total of 779 islands, islets, and skerries, all of volcanic origin. The terrain is rugged; the climate is subpolar oceanic climate; windy, wet, cloudy, and cool. The highest point; Slęttaratindur reach 882 metres. Temperatures average above freezing throughout the year because of the Gulf Stream. As a result of the moderation and the northerly latitude, summers normally hover around 12°C Average temperatures are 5°C in winter. The northerly latitude location also results in perpetual civil twilight during summer nights and very short winter days.
Archaeological evidence shows settlers living on the
Faroe Islands in two successive periods before the Norse arrived, the first
between 300 and 600 and the second between 600 and 800. Scientists from the
University of Aberdeen have also found early cereal pollen from domesticated
plants, which further suggests people may have lived on the islands before
the Vikings arrived.
The economy is mainly based on fishing, which, along with salmon farming make up 95% of the export and half of the Faroese national gross product.
The flora of the Faroe Islands consists of over 400
different plant species, of which a quarter is brought by mankind. The natural vegetation of the Faroe Islands is
dominated by arctic-alpine plants, wildflowers, grasses, moss, and lichen -
and a lack of trees.
Most of the lowland area is grassland and some is heath, dominated by
shrubby heathers, mainly Calluna vulgaris. Among the herbaceous flora
that occur in the Faroe Islands is the cosmopolitan marsh thistle,
The bird fauna of the Faroe Islands is dominated by
seabirds and birds attracted to open land such as heather, probably because
of the lack of woodland and other suitable habitats. Many species have
developed special Faroese sub-species: Common eider, Common starling,
Eurasian wren, Common murre, and black guillemot. The pied raven, a colour
morph of the North Atlantic subspecies of the common raven, was endemic to
the Faroe Islands, but now has become extinct.
Grey seals; Halichoerus grypus are common around the shorelines. Several species of cetacea live in the waters around the Faroe Islands. Best known are the long-finned pilot whales; Globicephala melaena, which still are hunted by the islanders in accordance with longstanding local tradition. Orcas; Orcinus orca are regular visitors around the islands.
The day when we will enrich the
Faroe Islands with our presence. Up before the birds say "TWEET", impossible
to wake-up the baker, but the train is ready and we find the airport. Where
I otherwise always struggles freezing on the way to the airport, dressed in far too
little warm clothes, this time I have plenty, as the the wonderful Zealand
summer just kicked in with 30C, and the Faroe only experiences 10C.
We land on Vįgar Island as planned, and the weather alternates between cloudy and sunny - considered great around here. We plunder the duty-free, sneak through the customs and then through the tent, where we get a stick in our throat. I find a car key in a vending machine, and then a new great car in the parking lot. Contact-free key, buttons as gear-stick and "smart" all the way through. The Honda Civic is great!
Now that we are on Vįgar and the weather is reasonable,
we'll just drive around and see a bit. Here is adventurous, and so much more
beautiful, than I had expected!
Then back through Bųur village, with its grass
roofs on old wooden houses. They appears to have been build by Vikings in a
Then we drive through the larger but cosy village of
Leitisvatn, but continue to Streymoy Island through the long
tunnel. It is tempting to stop at countless places along the route, but we must also reach
home to our hosts.
On the way home, we enjoy the views of Thorshavn from the high cliffs, and the surrounding area. Home to delicious food and TV bingo - a big hit in the Faroe Islands. It gets way too late, but the evening is cosy and I get to add a lot of interesting sights to tomorrow's adventures.
Besides from the two larger toll tunnels, here are 18 shorter ones, and more will come. As most settlements are along the shoreline, and the the islands raises to 5-800 metres in the middle, they are essential to connect the settlements. Photos from Day 1.
8/8. After a very short night (4 hours), I am ready again. Unfortunately, my co-driver should probably have a little longer in the charger. At six o'clock the sun enters the lovely garden room, and I catch up with some office work from yesterday.
We start the day with the long trip up towards the northernmost - you can drive: Višareiši. It is a beautiful trip, but the weather is typically very changeable and the sun only appears in brief glimpses. We drive into deep fjords, and along high mountains, covered by a thin but sapphire-green cover of grass.
seems like 99,999% of agriculture is made up of hay and sheep farming.
only other crop seems to be tiny patches of potatoes, found wherever the
soul is deep and fine enough.
drive through Noršragųta, and see their old church from the car. It
is from 1833, and built in wood with a lawn for roof. A little further
north, we find the small bridge at Oyrarbakki. Then we are on
Eysteruroy, which we drive across.
In the small village of Višareiši, the hay-harvest
is in full swing. It is laid by hand on long fences, before being driven
home in small bags. In some places, fishing nets is laid over, to keep it in
down along Hvannasund and back on Boršoy.
"Far out in the woods" is actually not very far, in the
Faroe Islands. Several streams cross the area, and here is
beautiful. The trees in Višarlundin ķ Kunoy are large, and here are
many species, certainly an old trial plantation.
Down on Boršoy the weather is better, and we now turn into Klaksvķk, the second largest town on the islands. First we find the big brewery: Fųroya Bjór. My co-driver then finds a café, with a great view, where we enjoy lunch. The weather does not entice for a city trip, so I just shoot a photo of the modern church from the car, before we return to Eysturoy, and turn south.
Lambi to Ęšuvķk, which has a perfect sandy beach. I trudge for
a walk along the water, and find some large barnacles. Further down, high
cliffs meet the harsh sea.
There are some more flashes of sun, as we drive over the bridge at Oyrarbakki, where we turn south to Hvalvķk. Here is the black wooden church with the green grass roof from 1829. Other houses in the small village look just as old, but also perfectly maintained, like all other Faroese houses.
follow the one-lane road up the infinitely deep but narrow fjord, and then
the great river Svartį. We pass the large lake Saksunarvatn,
and then get to Saksun. Here another deep fjord enters between high
We head home and stock up on some food at the local
supermarket on the way. My o-driver is having a nap before he relaxes, and I
am struggling through today's 250 photos and diaries. The sun is finally
shining brightly - and I hope it lasts until tomorrow.
Time for Diary 2.