Located in the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway, we find this beautiful archipelago composed by 18 islands, covered by an omnipresent green mantle and separated by narrow fjords. “Unspoiled, unexplored, unbelievable” is the attractive slogan chosen by the friends of Visit Faroe Islands to promote this unique place, home to 50.000 people, that we had the chance to visit during the four intensive days that I will try to narrate with my images and some related words.
Vágar and Eysturoy
After spending a day in Copenhagen (København), where I manage to visit some landmarks and take some photos, I am finally close to satisfy the old desire of walking on the green slopes that I saw decorating many travel photographs of other fellow authors. Alicia meets me later in the Danish capital, where our flight to Vágar departs the morning after, setting the start to this brief but memorable adventure.
The flight, operated by the national airline, Atlantic Airways, is short and satisfactory, lasting around 2 hours. We are received by a colder weather than the one that reigns during the Spanish summer, which we appreciate, and some rain – it is obvious that rain has to be present for this generous landscapes to be formed, as it happens in Galicia and Asturias, in Spain -. Once in the small airport, we pick up keys for our rental car and check the map for the first directions to follow.
As suggested by Annleyg and Ditte, specialists in the area and a great help during this trip, we decide to visit some villages in Vágar, before heading to the island of Eysturoy, where we will spend the first night.
On a calm pace, respecting the speed limit of 50 km in towns and villages and 80 km on the main roads, we drive along a safe and tranquil road, stopping several times on the way to the villages of Sørvágur, Bøur and Gásaldur. Fortunately for the visitor, weather changes constantly, and short rains are followed by drier phases and some moments of sun dominance.
For our visual pleasure, nature is everywhere, in the form of green mountains and refreshing waterfalls that plough through the land, respecting an ordered cadence that transmits a peaceful feeling. There are also numerous domestic animals of the islands – result of 1,200 years of isolated breeding – that include ponies, ducks and sheep that, quite often, cross the roads in a funny way and justify a careful and moderate driving.
Gjógv – After a first contact with the islands and its picturesque architecture – we love the colourful wooden houses and the turf on the roofs -, we drive to the northeast tip of Eysturoy island, where the fairytalelike village of Gjógv is located. First mentioned in 1584, it seems to have existed long before then and subsisted on fishing and selling dried and salted fish. Before walking around this charming location, that I personally like immediately, we decide to eat something at Gjáargarður´s cafeteria, where we would also spend the night and enjoy an interesting cultural evening.
Once our stomachs are full, it´s time for a short recovery siesta in our room and back again to the streets, with both camera and our curiosity fully charged. First thing that attracts our attention is the creative garden of the hotel neighbour, decorated with colourful and peculiar handcrafted dolls and objects, as portrayed in the image below. The village, an ideal place to escape the daily smokes and noises of the soul breaking cities, is small and quiet, and is known for having one of the best natural harbour in the Faroes.
It´s time to go back to the guesthouse and enjoy the cultural evening that they seem to organise regularly. The event begins with the brief concert of a talented local songwriter and skilled guitar player. After a few songs, we are invited to configure our dinner from a great and tasteful variety of dishes, available in the buffet. The quality of the food offered is really good and includes tastes that we enjoy and comment, thanks to the always welcomed new flavours and the prominence of recipes created with outstanding fish from the cold local waters.
The spacious dinner room is then transformed into a dance floor, where we are introduced to the traditional farose dance (føroyskur dansur) by the kind personal of the hotel and some friends. Instead of posting still shots of the moment, I am sure you will appreciate it better in the video I attach below these lines. It was the perfect closing for a cultural evening that we definitely recommend if you are in the area. After the dancing class and a good conversation with a friendly local couple, we take a last walk around the village and get back to rest for the intense days ahead.
Hiking day in Kalsoy
Nicknamed “the flute”, for its thin shape and road-tunnels, Kalsoy is one of the Northern Islands in the Faroes, accessible with a ferry named Sam. In spite of our tight calculations to reach the port of Klaksvik, the town where the ferry departs, we miraculously manage to get just in time and occupy one of the places reserved for transporting cars to our destination, the port of Syðradalur.
During the ferry trip, which is short and pleasant, the friendly crew allow us to move around freely and enter the control room for taking some pics of the captain and the main panel. There are different platforms on the boat, where you can have assorted perspectives of the cruise, which is great for having some nice views of the surrounding landscapes, especially on a sunny day.
A young Polish couple that we casually saw on the plane and in the village of Gjógv, ask for our help to get to Trøllanes. With our obviously positive answer and mainly in silence, Alicia drives the four of us to this tiny settlement, in the Northern tip of the island, while we enjoy the views that offer the beautiful combination of dramatic cliffs, grassy valleys and generous fjords.
After walking around the small village, taking some photos and seeing the Polish couple for the third and last time in our trip, we decide it´s time to put our legs to work and hike up one of the mountain that imposes its presence and form the valley that surrounds us. We are not sure about the path to take – we leave in the car the suggested instructions -, so we face the one that starts at the end of the town, following the finished small road.
When you first look up the mountain, if you are not a frequent hiker, it may seem a bit hard to believe that you will be able to climb up the path, as it appears to be more vertical than it really is. Although not the easiest hiking, the shape of the slope acts like a natural ladder and helps a lot with the ascent, in spite of the sporadic rain that moistens the generous grass we are stepping on.
A couple of enjoyable hours and several slips later, we decide to stop to eat something – you should bring your food, as we are not aware of any place to eat in the area – and enjoy the views from a perfect rock, near the top of the mountain.
With a happier belly and the soul enriched by some magnificent views, it´s time to descend the hillside to meet the planned schedule. We have to be careful, as the soft but frequent rain has left the surface a bit slippery, but this is also the perfect excuse for playing a bit by falling repeatedly and sliding some meters down the mountain. Before heading back to the car and driving to the ferry, we walk around the lower part of the hill, until we find the perfect spot to lay down on the wet grass and breathe the clean and fresh air of the beautiful Faroes.
It is our plan to stop and have dinner at Lena og Jákup Hansen (Lena and Jakup´s home), in the village of Søldarfjørður, but a misunderstanding with the booking date leaves us with the desire of trying their traditional food and spending some time inside a local faroese house. Next time will be, we say to ourselves.
A bit tired and relaxed after the physical effort and the emotions, we fill up the gas tank for the incoming days, where the second part of this adventure begins, setting our base in the capital, Tórshavn.
Learn More (Books and Guides about Faroe Islands)
Faroe Islands (Bradt Travel Guides)
The Missing Son: A Faroe Island Saga
Lonely Planet Iceland, Greenland & the Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands Travel Journal
The Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands: Interpretations of History
Special thanks to Annleyg and Ditte for their great help,
and the staff of Gjáargarður for their kind attention.
4 DAYS IN THE FAROE ISLANDS
Part 1 / Vagar, Eysturoy and Kalsoy
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© Nano Calvo