Faroe Islands part 2

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Sandoy and its rugged, green cliffs

Sandoy and its rugged, green cliffs

If a Faroese fisherman offers you some air-dried haddock just say no. In my humble opinion it tastes roughly like cardboard, or, quite possibly, cardboard has more taste. After a few days onboard ship in the Faroe Islands, I was swiftly coming to the conclusion that seafaring might not be my thing after all and any dreams of becoming an infamous, female pirate were best placed on the shelf, for now.

Myself, my 10 fellow adventurers and three Faroese crew left the island of Sandoy on a sunny June morning. Yes, feel free to do a double take, I said ‘sunny’. After the first few days’ inclement weather I could scarcely believe it. The sun was deceptive, though. No sooner had we left land before the boat, our trusty Johanna, a wooden geriatric in boating terms, began pitching and rolling in the swell – turns out it was another blustery day and I was glad I’d opted for a seasickness tablet.

We followed the cliffs along the west coast of Sandoy, where the landscape was pure fairytale, as though I’d suddenly been transported straight into an Old Norse Saga. Every shade of green covered the natural turrets and pinnacles following the coastline, the cliffs dropping steeply into the sea. At every turn I fully expected a Viking ship in full sail, waiting in the hidden coves, but they must have been busy elsewhere. Leaving Sandoy behind, we passed two of the smaller islands, Koltur and Hestur, before following the coastline of Streymoy, the largest of the 18 islands.



Our destination for the end of the day was capital Tórshavn, where they were celebrating Mentanarnáttin, or The Culture Night. This is an evening when businesses and shops stay open late, there’s live music in the centre and stalls selling food and drink line the streets, most of which become pedestrian by default. The nights here stay so wonderfully light in summer, it’s sometimes hard to remember to go to bed and the Culture Night is a great one for not bothering with sleep at all, instead partying with the locals. I strolled through the friendly throng, stopping occasionally in a bar along the way. Tórshavn is by no means huge with less than 20,000 inhabitants and very easy to amble around. The harbour area and the oldest parts of town, right next to each other, are pleasant to visit daytime or evening. Strolling through both after my night of culture, I returned to Johanna, sitting solidly in the harbour.

Next day was spent exploring Tórshavn, before setting sails for Nólsoy, just across Nólsoyar fjord, only some 40 minutes away. We arrived late evening in the village of Nólsoy, on the island of the same name – slight lack of naming imagination there, perhaps? All 213 inhabitants of the village appeared to be celebrating Faroe Islands just beating Greece, 2-1, in the European football Qualifiers. Despite its diminutive size, the Faroes have a wicked good football team, something locals are understandably proud of. To join in the celebrations, we clambered off Johanna and followed a number of gently staggering blondes of all genders, thinking they were off to a good bar/party somewhere. Alas, they were getting on the late ferry to Tórshavn, where the real party was taking place, leaving us to try our luck at Kaffistova, a small Nólsoy café/bar, staying open till 2am. This was populated by two lonely locals, who were rather taken aback when the group of us wandered in, took over the place and ordered all the beer, cider and wine we could find.

Whalebone gate, Nólsoy

Whalebone gate, Nólsoy

As one of our party was a classically trained singer, she soon wooed said locals with an impromptu rendition of “Hallelujah”, bringing tears to the eye. Not to be outdone by us visitors, our Faroese crew was soon doing Faroese fishermen’s songs and the whole evening turned rather merry after that. On our way to the café we’d spotted the communal outdoor hot tub and made plans to dip in, but by the end of the evening I was actually the only one brave enough to join assorted locals. It was nice and civilised, if slightly on the nippy side, especially getting in and out of the tub. I joined some 4-5 Faroese ladies, who were infinitely nicer than the totally plastered Faroese men, who luckily weren’t in the tub itself. Until, that is, one of them thought it a good idea to get in said tub fully dressed and sit next to me. Turned out he’d gone in with his mobile in his pocket and all, leading to rather a lot of chuckling from us onlookers and swearing from the “gentle”man in question. This seemed a good time to leave the locals to it and run back to the boat in the 4-degree air temperature. Never let it be said that I’m not a hardy Swede.

Nólsoy, despite its size, has a few sights, so the following morning I opted for the guided tour of the village. Nólsoy island has been settled since the 12th century and is the lowest of all the islands, the highest mountain just reaching 300 metres.

te scenery on the ssecond stage of our journey was just as spectacular

te scenery on the second stage of our journey was just as spectacular

The hour-long tour took in the local church, the oldest house in the village, open as a museum and also a boat museum. We then accidentally found part of the Faroese football team who had come across from Tórshavn the night before after beating Greece. They had rented one of the oldest houses on the island for the goalkeeper’s stag party and bravely invited us in to check out the house, despite looking a bit worse for wear (them as well as us). Hot tub and semi-naked footballers – not quite what I had expected on this tiny island. What might be in store for the rest of my journey?

To be continued…

Anna Maria travelled with The Clipperton Project which is a a non-profit organisation with international reach, organising expeditions, exhibitions and various events. Most expeditions take place onboard ship.

For more information about the Faroe Islands, click here.

Story and images © Anna Maria Espsäter

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