"" Writer's Wanderings: Torshavn, Faroe Islands

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Torshavn, Faroe Islands

 The Faroe Islands is a small nation made up of eighteen islands. Torshavn is the capital and main port. The island nation belongs to Denmark but is mostly autonomous. It lies southeast of Iceland. We've been here before but again, our memories differ a bit. The excursion we chose was something we both agreed we had not done before. It was to visit the island of Vagar.

Our arrival into port was late morning and our excursion did not start until 1:45. The weather had turned a bit more chilly than the previous day and the sky had clouded over. Still, the landscape was amazing as we drove to our first stop on the tour. 

Our guide was named Napoleon. I thought that a strange name for this part of the world but later figured out that it probably wasn't his real name. He was a French teacher in school and had spent a year studying in France. I'm guessing his real name was maybe harder to pronounce or the entertainer in him chose a "stage name". He was entertaining. He carried a ukulele with him that he pulled out several times to sing with. 

Our first stop after going through a long tunnel that connected  the island of Vagar with the island of Streymoy where Torshavn is located was the small town of Sandavagur. The town's name has to do with the black sandy beach. Most of the beaches in Iceland and the Faroes are black sand because of the volcanoes that formed the land. 

We stopped at the iconic church with the red roof. It was built back during World War I. Napoleon handed us each a hymnal so that we could see what the written language looked like. We turned to one hymn which his translation led me to believe it was about the story of Peter wanting to walk on water with Jesus. I'm not sure, but our guide began to play his ukulele and sing the hymn in his language.

The church had a ship hanging from the ceiling between the two chandeliers, a reference to the Vikings perhaps? In the corner at the front of the church was a rune stone from the 13th century that honors the first Viking settler to the area. 

From the church we continued on to the Mulafossur Waterfall that was significant for its plunge into the ocean. It was described as a take-your-breath-away experience. Perhaps they meant because of the brisk walk? On a windy day though the flow of water is said to blow up into the air. Other waterfalls we had passed were more like water gently flowing down stairsteps so I guess this would be spectacular by those standards. The quaint town near the waterfall has only about 25 houses. We didn't get to explore there but the village we stopped in next was very similar in size.

Our greeter resting on the roof.

A short drive from the waterfall was the village of Bour. The bus parked in a lot slightly above the town whose narrow streets would barely let a car pass let alone a bus. We walked down to the Pakkhusid, a house that was once a warehouse for the fishing industry.  Just as we neared the house a beautiful dog, maybe a collie mix, came bounding up to us, paused and waited for a greeting. As soon as I talked to him, he cuddled up and enjoyed a little scratch behind the ears and then bounded off again as if to lead the way. So sweet.

The house which dates back to 1861 was painted in black as were most of the others in the village. It's a traditional color as our lecturer on the ship had explained, it was a mixture of tar with other things to make the paint. They used it back in the day before all the colorful paints became available. Also traditional or not, most of the roofs were sod. and yes, they have to mow the roof on occasion. 

As the granddaughter of the original owners explained, the floor below the one where we were having coffee and cake was slanted as that is where they salted and dried the fish. The slanted floor would help the water to run off. The warehouse has now become a restaurant and a place for social gatherings and has been preserved as a piece of their history.

I cannot tell you much about the bus ride back which took a little over an hour. Bob is no help there. He fell asleep before I did. We were both exhausted. This was a port intensive cruise and we had been going full speed for the whole week. Have I mentioned that we're getting much older? As a matter of fact Bob even celebrated another birthday and birthdays at this age are definitely a cause for celebration.

We had to really hustle when we arrived back at the ship as we only had about fifteen minutes before our reservation at the Tastes specialty restaurant. We weren't too worried though as we knew it would not be full and they would hold a place for us. As it turned out, we were only about ten minutes late. 

Dinner is ordered at the Tastes as samples of all sorts of dishes. We had a salad, some kind of Asian dish with raw fish, churrasco steak with sweet potato sticks and Mongolian lamb chops. It was the first time I have been disappointed with a meal on the cruise. We ordered some kind of dumpling that did not resemble any kind of Asian dumpling I'd seen before and my lamb was not the lamb I remembered from the past. It had a totally different flavor and was sitting in some sort of mint sauce. I'm one who thinks mint ruins the taste of lamb. The sweet potato sticks (more like logs) were very good however.

After dinner we went to listen to the piano music in the Avenue. I ordered a pot of green tea to try to warm up. The ship seemed so much colder and I think being tired I had gotten a chill. We listened, drank tea and struck up a conversation with another couple, then Bob went off to the show which was a tribute to Billy Joel that we'd seen many times before and I went up to the room to crawl into bed. It wasn't long before I was asleep. There would be no looking for Northern Lights again tonight.

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