Tórshavn all day free-parking is a limited resource. As far as you can tell there exists only one near the Realurin shop, so you headed out early and nabbed it for the day.
- The tourist information page explained three ways to visit Nólsoy island:
- Swim 5 km in cold water
- Convince a local fishing boat to drop you off
- Catch the ferry
They may have been serious with their suggestions, since there are pictures online of people in wetsuits, and the local fishermen are kinda nice. For 80 króna you took the ferry from Tórshavn warf to Nólsoy. May danced on the upper deck tables and walked about making friends the whole way there.
Nólsoy is a 9 km long island 5 km off the coast of Tórshavn. It has one tiny port village at the island’s most narrow point, boasting around fifty houses, two seasonal restaurants, and a football field. The island is so narrow that sea swell occasionally breaks waves from one side to the other over the field. They probably loose a lot of balls that way.
You traversed some grassy slopes and walked up the hill for a better view — the colourful village in sunshine against a stormy grey backdrop with fishing boats and wind turbines was a pretty sight. The trail continued the length of the island through thick marshlands, making progress wet and slow but interesting in of itself. About two hours out, you pitched the tent for a sheltered lunch, then continued another hour to the lighthouse at the southern end of the island. There were no puffins, no exotic wildlife and no people whatsoever the whole way there. It was a puffin-free, yet authentic Føroya experience.
On the way back, you discussed conspiracy theories about the lack of puffin sightings.
Maybe it's all a marketing gag to bring in tourists [and they don't really exist]. Alternatively,
puffin season is reported intentionally wrong: puffins are viscous carnivores, and Faries want to protect visitors.
Nearing Nólsoy a surprisingly slippery slope led to a twisted ankle. You trotted down the hill and past some kind of water shed (literally a shed with water gushing through it) and back into Nólsoy. May said
hello to some geese, inspected some crumbling cement walls, and picked up every loose pebble along the road. She is an inquisitive little lady.
Nólsoy was dead. All shops and both of its restaurants were shut, showing no sign of reopening until sometime in 2018. No one seemed to be home — probably all on the mainland for the day. You wandered the streets (all of them) and waited in a small park near the wharf for the ferry. When it arrived, the entire population of Nólsoy disembarked and went to their respective homes. That's island life you guess.
Tuesday was a chill-at-home day. Windy rainy Nólsoy had sucked the life out of you, and so you kept things low-key with a relaxing walk through Kollafjørður with May. No stone along the road was left unturned (or untasted).
You walked through the town centre — comprised of exactly one church, one shop and one restaurant — and crossed the red bridge to the wharf. The adventure was uneventful except for a chat with a Danish (?) bloke who asked for directions to the shop. Kinda hard to miss, mate. There is only one.
SMS & Rúsdrekkasøl Landsins
You ventured forth on a shopping mission towards Tórshavn. The weather on your side of the tunnel was fine and bright, while the other side (only 1 km away) was under heavy downpour. Valley microclimates are funny things.
At the SMS shopping centre you took inventory of the various imported goods. Most things were Danish (fish in jars, Lego sets) with a couple of British imports (salted chips, vinegar chips, salt & vinegar chips). The local fish selection was the highlight: fresh, cheap and plentiful. You took a half-kilo salmon fillet for about ⅓ cf. normal.
Next you visited Rúsdrekkasøla Landsin, the national alcohol shop. The Føroya government has monopolistic control of liquor sales for revenue generation and social policy. Restaurants and hotels have licences, but if you wanna buy something you have to visit one of the six liquor shops and two breweries on the islands. It sounds tough, but six of anything in Føroya is in abundance. There are more booze-shops here than bookshops (dedicated bookshops).
The bottle-o had an extensive collection of world imports. Alcohol was not limited to the typical European, Asian and Americas selection (airport standard); they had lots of fancy-looking liquids you'd never seen before. You briefly considered buying a Japanese espresso beer but instead went for the local stuff with a picture of a sheep on the bottle — far more appropriate.
Kollafjørður has a secret waterfall. At the back of the village is a narrow path edging up one of the small streams with little indication where it leads. If you follow the slippery path to a low wooden farm gate, you will find some green grazing areas, sheep, boulders and a secret waterfall pond. It begged to be swam in.
After salmon dinner (best you've ever tasted, May loved it) everyone went exploring up the path to the waterfall. May seemed happy, pointing at the sheep while making cow noises. Cute. The way to the top wasn't easy to navigate over uneven ground while carrying May with one arm, but she was amused at your balancing act. Others were duly concerned.
The nekkid (naked and childish) dip was less cold than expected. You lasted about nine seconds in the water. Heading back down you walked through a grove of trees planted to encourage birds to visit and give kids somewhere to play. Trees are a novelty in Føroya.
Runavík is the second biggest port in Føroya and probably the most desolate place overall. The main street has basic shops, even a bookshop, but you didn't get the impression anyone lives here. The elevated peninsular leading away from the port provided a nicer place to build a house, inevitably extracting the Fairy residents and leaving a utilitarian terminal behind. Drab place.
Runavík's only redeeming feature was a park (with no parking) and a pond with one swan. Whoever designed it surely had the best of intentions, but outside tourist (bird) season there wasn't much to see. On the way out you bought a book about puffins and Hertak Føroyar ("Battle Faroe" or Faroe Islands Risk).
The southern peninsular of Eysturoy had some wind turbines and a good view of the surrounding islands. You drove through Nes to Eystnes along curvy single-lane roads to the end of peninsular. This island would make such a fun go-kart track. Very windy.
That night you ate mystery fish, later translated to tuna imported from Indonesia. Damn it.
Svimjihøllin í Gundadali
The weather wasn't looking especially promising today, so you bummed around home in the morning and went to the indoor pool in the afternoon. At the pool you found a mini centrifuge installed in the change rooms for drying swimmers. It actually worked pretty well.
After swimming you dropped past SMS again to buy more salmon, and then drove back home over the mountain. Your research indicated that access to the radar station at the top was no longer restricted, and you hoped to check out the geodesic dome. It was too foggy to drive all the way up today. Bummer.
Many Føroya flags were flying at half mast today. Still haven't discovered why...
Today’s adventure was to Viðareiði at the northernmost end of the northernmost Føroya Island. It was another wet day, but there was no point prognosticating anything weather-related so you just hoped for the best.
There were many tunnels and bridges on the way to Viðareiði. After each mountain you passed under or water you crossed over the roads narrowed and the weather switched between wet and dry. Later sections were single lane one-way tunnels that appeared to have been cut by pickaxe. The final tunnel, in contrast, was as big and shiny as an aircraft hanger.
In Viðareiði you pfaffed about waiting for the wind to subside before wandering up the slippery slope. During your first attempt the rain returned and a local offered you shelter. Cowering inside wasn’t really a long term solution to bad weather but it was a kind offer. You turned back to the car, only for the sun to shine and motivate you to try again. Ten minutes of clambering up the sodden hill — basically an inclined marshland — was too much, so you packed it in and let the wind blow you back down the hill.
You took the coast road from Viðareiði to Hvannasund, which was also disproportionately shiny for its surroundings. Someone important must live in one of these tiny towns to justify such a big tunnel.
Hvannasund sat between two steep mountains and was comprised of less than fifty buildings, one bridge and one set of traffic lights (that were turned off). It looked pretty in the sunshine... Where was that earlier?
Two more kilometres of tunnel took you to Árnafjørður. It was even smaller than the last town, with 100 m of road connecting the tunnels and another half-kilometre of road down to the water. The waterfall cascading beside the tunnel entrance was really pretty.
Klaksvík had a warf, a beer brewery and several roundabouts. For Føroya Standards it was an economic centre. The town was even big enough to let you take wrong turns while driving. After a quick stop and a few more wrong turns, you drove on.
On the way to Oyndarfjørður you stopped at six nice photo spots. The Føroya government planned for snap-happy tourists and included places to pull over and park. The road was long and windy passing huge striated cliff faces — they looked like a geological mural.
Oyndarfjørður has one tourist attraction: the Rinkusteinar, which is a big wobbly rock that sways with the sea. The huge boulder rocks slowly back and forth with a rhythm only vaguely tied to the motion of the waves. It is connected to the shore by a chain who’s tension helps you see the movement. Sitting on the rock gave you a better appreciation.
You went past home base for a quick recharge, and then set off again up Sornfelli mountain. Your internet-ing had concluded that you were allowed to go all the way up to the mountain to see the radar and weather station, so you gave it another try.
From the car park you walked to the no trespassing sign and up another hundred meters to a dead end. There you found a barred-off bunker and rusted elevator rail clinging to the cliff face. Further progress was not compatible with young children in tow.
The wind had blown all the clouds away presenting an amazing view in all directions. You could see places through which you had adventures in the past week and some new islands that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. It was worth the trip. On the way down you picked up some shiny green rocks.
That night you ate cod. Even though Meike does not like cod, and therefore was convinced it couldn’t be cod, she concluded:
they can fish well here.
Eiði and Eiðiskollur
For today's adventure you set off towards the northern side of Eysturoy, passing Foroya's biggest waterfall along the way. It wasn't that big; you must be getting used to them. Arriving in Eiði you realised you had left the Manduca at home... damn it! That mistake cost you an hour of lost time.
The walk up Eiðiskollur hill (you couldn't call it a mountain) was steep, short and slippery but had great views of waterfalls and soccer fields. Some old cement fortifications and a weather station sat the top from where you could watch seabirds flying around two gigantic columns which rose from the sea just meters away.
Next plan was to hike up Slættaratindur — Foroya's biggest mountain, standing at 880 m height. Walking onward and upward May made pointed out each and every sheep along the way.
The path was easy to follow but it became a bit of a scramble at times. There were places where a slight slip could become a steep slippery-slide back down over the wet grass and a rough tumble over the rocks. No such slips occurred, just a near-miss or two.
The top was a utterly flat stone plateau. Coincidentally, Slættaratindur translates to flat summit. Faries (the people) celebrate the longest day of the year by going up to watch the sun set and then rise again. Cool tradition.
After coming back down the mountain there was just enough time to visit Gjógv before sunset and hunger on-set. Following roads that rolled like a rollercoaster brought your to the tiny coastal village, who's key attraction appeared to be a slow-flowing river with usable toy boats.
With its neatly trimmed gardens and colourful houses, the place looked idilic. Your favourite part was finding a street called Oman á Bakka road, which loosely translates to
oh man, what a dope. You took a photo or two at the boat ramp, called it a day and drove back through another random tunnel home.
Leftover cod for dinner sounded (and tasted) good. Noticing that your stocks were otherwise depleted, you strolled down to the local shop to buy some bread. There were only slim picking left this late in the day. Fair enough.
You walked back past the school were a gang of kids on motorbikes were congregating. They looked bored. You walked up to the waterfall again. Yep — still there. Kollaførður looked pretty at night.
Fish, fisk and liquorish
Everyone was awake in time thanks to May. She sure likes to wake up early. You packed, ate the leftover fish-based foodstuffs and said goodbye to your lovely holiday house. On the way to the airport you refuelled and met some geese crossing the road.
The flight was a little delayed due to birds in the engine. You played with Lego while you waited to fly home.