I’m leaving the land of fire and ice for the islands of wind and rain, and getting the ferry from Iceland to the Faroe Islands. I left Seydisfjordur mid-morning yesterday. There was a huge number of passengers aboard the Smyril Line ship to Tórshavn. Which by the way is not pronounced like that, Faroese, a direct descendant of Old Norse like Icelandic, seems as bad as Irish for having a loose and flexible relationship between spelling and pronunciation. A return ticket with a couchette is €315 return. It’s a Faroese company and for centuries Denmark restricted the ownership of boats and trading here like their other overseas territories. Mostly filled with Danes and Germans the party ship kicked off almost immediately, there’s several restaurants, duty-free shopping, even a gym and pool. An uneventful crossing of the North Atlantic is a good one and all I did was read about the Faroes and I saw one other ship. The seas were reasonably calm and the ship is pretty stable which is good if you’re normally as sick as a maggot for the first week at sea and have just stuffed your face with pizza because you’re getting sick of protein bars and yogurt. I ended up heading to bed early as the boat was docking at 3am. Lovely.
The Faroe Islands
I’ll admit I’m not at my best at 3am and when you are waiting at a taxi rank with the last stragglers of the party it’s probably not the best introduction to any place. When the ship was approaching the harbour of Tôrshavn there was a rib with, what seemed from the shouting, a mad party on it, and there was disco music pumping as the ferry docked (just about fitting into the harbour). And why? It’s Ólavsøka. The Faroese national day where they celebrate St Olav (actually on the day of his death) after he promised to help them, but unfortunately died before he could do so. It starts off with rowing and a lot of partying on the 28. Which is what I came to.
Too tired to deal with anything I got a taxi to the campsite where they’re was a queue to check-in. Because of the national holiday this weekend was a bit more expensive too. After finally paying for the pitch I missed the beautiful smokey blue sunrise and finally crawled into my sleeping bag about half four. At that stage I really didn’t care anymore but it ended up being on a bumpy bit of ground that just perfectly fit my body – how jammy is that? The tent is proving excellent so far – no leaks and holds up well in the wind which has been stronger the last few days. Though south Iceland is supposed to be very windy so we’ll see how that works out. Also why is there night time again. I love the eternal day. I could say the days are fair drawing in with there being definite darkness around midnight in Iceland which has obviously just gotten more extreme this far south.
The islands are slap bang in the middle of the North Atlantic and are a product of their environment. There’s nothing to buffer the storms that hit these rocks (some islands are just that) and it’s s tough and rugged place. So it was probably a fair morning despite the rain. Tórshavn, Thór’s Harbour, is the smallest capital in the world and the historic centre is a warren of tiny streets with turf-roofed houses.
I headed uptown to see part two of the celebrations, a more family-oriented day of national costumes, hymns and members of parliament and clergy marching through the town. The music and costumes are beautiful. People seem very friendly, smile a lot and quite a few asked me where I was from. The islands had close links to the northern Scottish isles through the Norse and it was thought that they were first settled by Irish monks, and St Brendan wrote about them too. Suppose I’m not that much of a stranger so? Now I just feel like having a lazy day. So why not.