Sunday October 18th, 2015
I can’t really pinpoint what exactly got the Faroe Islands onto my list of places that I absolutely had to explore, but over the past year it became more and more apparent that this was an amazing, yet less traveled, part of Europe. Being as enthusiastic as I am about Scandinavia and its countries, my excitement built as the time drew near to visit. The country lies in the middle of the North Atlantic, about halfway between Norway and Iceland. The language is from the same family of Old Norse that Icelandic is from, but the two languages are not close to being mutually intelligible. The country is governed by Denmark, and travel to the Faroe Islands is mostly done through Copenhagen on Atlantic Airways, the national airline. After my overnight flight from Atlanta touched down in Copenhagen, I had a few hours to relax before boarding my final flight. The flight was about an hour and 45 minutes and was very pleasant. When I touched down at Vágar Airport, the hostel that I was staying at had arranged for a taxi to pick me up and drive me to Tórshavn, the capital city, which was on another island and 29 miles away. The cab driver was very knowledgeable and explained plenty of information about things we saw during our drive, and gave me a few maps with suggestions on what I should see while in the country. What I found while in the Faroe Islands, is that the Faroese know a lot about the land they inhabit, and it seemed no matter who I stopped to ask a question to, they always had a helpful response. I know people back home in Florida that have little clue about anything that happened to be outside the small bubble they inhabit on a daily basis. Not the case here in this far away land!
We arrived in Tórshavn and I checked into my hostel. The hostel was managed by a really nice hotel, located right next door and both were situated on a hill overlooking the city. There was a great view of the harbour and one of the smaller islands in the distance. I absolutely cannot believe I was staying in such a nice location for such a small price. I would definitely recommend Kerjalon to anyone visiting. It also has the famous grass roof, which was the reason I decided to stay here!
Address: Oyggjavegur 49
Torshavn, FO 100, Faroe Islands
After I was checked in, I messaged my friend Bjørt, whom I had met via Facebook back when I first thought of visiting the Faroes. She lived close by to the capital and had given me a lot of helpful information on where to stay and what I should expect when I got here. When I mentioned earlier how hospitable everyone in this country is, let me emphasize that these are some of the nicest people I have gotten to meet on my travels. Bjørt picked me up and we drove to the north part of the island of Eysturoy. We were going to a small picturesque village called Gjógv, where she was from, to have a traditional Faroese dinner with her mother and sisters. The road winded around cliffs and turns, each opening up to incredible views and landscapes. We stopped near a town called Eiði to see two seastacks, Risin og Kellingin (Risin and Kellingin)rising out of the Atlantic that had a Faroese tale explaining their orgin. The name Risin og Kellingin means The Giant and the Witch, and these two creatures were, as the legend goes, sent from the giants of Iceland to capture the Faraoe Islands. As dawn broke and the sun shown down, the giant and the witch were turned to stone.
We arrived in Gjógv just after dark, and went up the stairs of Bjørt’s mothers home. I felt so welcomed, and despite this being my first few hours in a foreign country, was able to feel right at home in our conversations. Dinner was a welcomed hearty meal after two days of traveling, a Faroese dish of blood pancakes and potatoes. Delicious! The pancakes had a sweetness to them, with what I can best describe as having an aftertaste of steak. Afterwards we had some coffee and then walked down the narrow cobblestone street to the village’s natural harbour, a gorge that leads straight out into the ocean. At night, the town has some lights illuminating the walls of the gorge. “The village gets its name from the gorge, Faroese gjógv is derived from the same Norse word (gjó)..”
After several hours of great conversation, funny stories, and comparing Florida to the Faroe Islands, Bjørt and I drove back to Tórshavn and my first day in the Faroes came to an end…