Faroe Islands, Here We Come!
Oh my God. For such an awesome room upgrade, sleeping on last night’s mattress was like sleeping on concrete.
Royal Mile Brekkie & Goodbye Edinburgh
I did not sleep well. Drunk sleep (you know—the totally non-restorative kind), rock-hard mattress, jet lag. I’m completely exhausted today. But I did get to have a couple cups of coffee and pad around the apartment, took a shower with their extra lovely toiletries (always a special treat), and accidentally flipped the last bit of my deodorant off the container into an undrained sink filled with used toothpaste. Figured I’d just leave it there and let it drain. Not fishing it out with my clean, moisturized hands that smelled of peppermint goodness.
We grabbed breakfast on the Royal Mile before checking out and cabbing it to the airport for the Faroe Islands. Random note that you can’t just call up an Uber on your app in Scotland; you have to book them ahead of time, which is a little weird. I kind of thought—I am booking ahead of time… five minutes ahead of time, no? It doesn’t work that way? Hrm.
The Edinburgh Airport has an interesting system. You check in, go through security, and then you don’t find out what your gate number is until boarding time. The whole secure area is just shops and restaurants and you wait around the zoo until twenty minutes before your flight and head to your gate. Seems like a fine enough idea except there’s a real lack of seating for people who just want to do nothing. I did pick up new deodorant, though. Also of note was that their duty free is set up like an IKEA—you can’t get out until you’ve walked through the entire damn store. So sneaky. Just let me out already!
Flying Into Vágar Airport
For once we had a flight that wasn’t completely packed with people and the seats had enough room for normal sized people. I say this because I’m a pretty small-framed individual and, when I’m finding it difficult to move around and get comfortable on a flight, they’re moving those plane seats way too close together. All I can think of is my poor husband whose knees are literally jammed up against the metal extenders of the tray tables every flight. And he’s six foot. He’s not unreasonably tall. Anyway, what this meant is that I got to hop over to the window seat from my assigned middle seat. Why I keep getting middle seats this trip, I don’t know. Bad luck. And you can’t select your seats with some of these international airlines ahead of time, so you’re kind of screwed. Turned out well, though!
I took this opportunity to catch some Zs. Was relieved the weather was nice out and the flight went smoothly. Things I didn’t mention about our flight into Glasgow—when we flew out during that thunderstorm, we had a few moments of turbulence that would make even the steadiest of passengers nervous, those moments where the whole plane suddenly drops however many feet and rattles and shakes. You jump awake and grip the armrests for dear life. Yeah. There were some of those. I’d read flights to the Faroes get cancelled often because the weather can be pretty temperamental, but all went well. What was really neat is that, when you’re flying in, you come right into a valley over a lake! Pretty impressive.
Vágar Airport in the Faroe Islands is tiny. Passport control is hilariously friendly. We’d received an email that our rental car was waiting for us in the airport parking lot and the keys were in the glove box. Um, okay. You took pictures of any car damage and just emailed them to the car company. We also learned the Faroese basically work on an honor system of sorts for parking. They have what they call “parking discs” in the bottom right of the windshields. They’re little clocks with arrows you move around with your finger. When you park, you move the arrow to the time you parked to let the meter maid know what time you parked there. I kid you not. So trusting, these folks.
Tórshavn & The Faroese Sheep
Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroes, is about a 45-minute drive from the airport. You have to drive through an underwater tunnel to get there. After a while, I sort of had to put out of my mind that I was actually underneath the Atlantic Ocean because I started to get a little claustrophobic… imagining a crack opening in the tunnel and the weight of the world’s water coming crushing in on me. These are the kinds of things that make their way into my mind, it’s true.
The landscape is pretty reminiscent of Iceland with grassy hills, steep cliffs, and waterfalls everywhere. There were also sheep absolutely everywhere and, because it’s springtime, there were baby baa-baa-baas everywhere, too! I cannot wait to take pictures of these little cuties tomorrow. For now, however, we just wanted to get to the hotel. (Just to drive the point home about sheep everywhere, I’m going to randomly sprinkle sheep photography in this post for your viewing pleasure.)
Leave it to us to have directions with a total of three roads and take a wrong turn because we’re gawking at something along the way. We also almost hit like five pedestrians due to gawking, and also because the Faroese are so trusting. They just walk across the street in traffic and, I guess, assume you’ll stop. This happened multiple times. Maybe they don’t get much traffic. Who knows? Found our hotel… where they didn’t ask for our passports. And went to go park.
The back roads in “downtown” Tórshavn are so tiny, I don’t even… whut. It’s insane. We had to circle around a couple times because we missed the turn and then there were one-ways. (Gotta calm all that traffic!) We found the weekend parking lot, but tried to pull into the actual hotel parking lot. …It was three spots. And a dead end. The tiniest lot ever. Jeff tried to back out, but we couldn’t make our way back out between these little stone walls so he pulled back in and basically did a sixteen-point turn while a bunch of staff just stood there and watched us on their smoke break. Probably the most entertaining thing they’ve seen all month.
Got out eventually, went back to the weekend lot, and squeezed into this teeny space. I had my eyes closed the whole time because the car censors were just going bananas. I hear Jeff throw the car in park. So, what do I do? Throw the car door open with total abandon. Yep. Right into the stone wall he’d so carefully avoided hitting. Jeff told me I should take a picture real quick and email the car company. Lol. Fortunately, there was really next to no damage as a result of my stupidity.
Faroe Islands Cuisine
Our hotel room is tiny. And expensive. And there were no rooms left except twins, so we’ll be living it up like roommates for the next couple of days. I’ll say this, though—the beds are so much more comfortable than last night’s. And my whole body hurts from schlepping bags up a bagillion stairs in Edinburgh. We grabbed dinner at a local tapas place, which served delicious bread with an amazing cheese platter and, well, just all kinds of deliciousness. Supposedly, the Faroese are known for their cuisine. There’s even a Michelin star restaurant somewhere up here for all you foodie types. Took a quick stroll on the harbor before heading back. We haven’t solidified exactly what we’re doing tomorrow just yet, but there’s plenty of natural beauty to take in here. I’ll be sure to catch you up. For now, I’m going to attempt to get some sleep. I should look up how many hours of daylight they have here this time of year. It’s after nine and the sun has only just begun to set…
Happy to say I slept much, much better than the prior night, but I could still use a nice, long sleep-in day. No can do, though. I’ve got things to see! As Jeff and I headed out on our first full day in the Faroe Islands, I began running through the few things I usually ask him to take in the book bag. He stopped me after the camera and said, “This isn’t my first rodeo with you, you know.” Okay, fine. You got this. …Except that he didn’t.
Kirkjubøur & Sørvágsvatn
We got to the first stop on our itinerary and had no idea why we were there. Because it wasn’t so obvious and… we didn’t have our Faroe Islands guide book. So… thanks for that, Jeff. We were in Kirkjubøur to see Magna Cathedral, which was not impressive whatsoever, and Roykstovan Farmhouse, the oldest inhabited wooden house in Europe that… just kind of looked like a lot of other wooden houses in the area. Not a very successful stop. Alas, onto the next.
As we moved further out of town, we got to see more and more of the famous Faroe sheep just roaming the hillsides (and the roads). There are little lambs everywhere and they are just oh so tiny and sweet! An article we read said to be on the lookout when driving because they “start’le” easily. Ha.
Next stop was the famous “hanging lake,” or Sørvágsvatn. It sits right on the edge of a cliff for a pretty impressive view, almost an optical illusion. We saw it flying in, actually. Unfortunately, for us, bad weather was heading in, and it was super cloudy and muddy. Tomorrow is supposed to be nicer and it’s not too much of a hike to get to the view, so we decided we might come back. I’d recommend Googling this, though. Pretty neat. (Or… just look at it in my flight pictures above.)
Drove to Gásadalur, this tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Remember—we didn’t have our tour book. We just had our own itinerary that said the name of the town and had the word “waterfall” next to it. Jeff Googled it and learned that this town almost went off the map completely because it couldn’t stay populated. At one point, it had twelve residents, but as of 2012, it has a whopping sixteen. What was particularly hilarious was that they actually had street signs… you know, in case you get lost. I kept saying that this waterfall had to be something because I wouldn’t put it on the list for nothing. (The “cathedral” and “old wooden building” was Jeff’s site.) So, I took matters into my own hands and Googled. Yaaasss. It’s the waterfall off the cliff. And, no, you can’t see it from the town because it goes off the cliff in front of the town. See my Instagram feed because this was amazing. I’m so glad I jumped in because we were literally about to leave.
I should note that we traveled to multiple islands today. They’re all connected by underwater tunnels and many of them are one-lane tunnels that travel in two directions. They have a special driving system here where one car direction ducks off into little pull-outs, dims its lights, and waits for oncoming traffic to pass. Some of the tunnels go all the way back to the sixties, which is a little creepy. One of them even had multicolored lights inside. Jeff and I dubbed this one the “disco tunnel.” You almost lost track of where you were after a while. Every time you came out of a tunnel, you saw moss-covered cliffs, lots of water, and sheep. It was like déjà vu.
The “Abandoned” Buttercup Trail
Next up was the supposed “Buttercup Trail” where we saw no Buttercups. We wanted to visit this abandoned fairy-tale village with a little water wheel, but when we got there, there were, um… people. Like… it seemed like they were living there. But, let’s back up a sec. It was super remote, the road turned into gravel, and we passed a Faroese father and son shoveling something on the side of the road. Jeff asked about child labor laws in the Faroes and said it was probably a free-for-all. I made the joke that they were probably burying the kid’s pet lamb that some tourist ran over.
Then, we get to the abandoned-not-abandoned village where two men are working in a field and I’m thinking it’s the beginning of a bad horror movie. The child is mad at tourists for killing his pet lamb and they get lured further into this town and are murdered by Scandinavian pagan worshippers, never to be heard from again. I feel like there were probably some great photo ops here, but I didn’t want to walk all over their property for them. Jeff and I looked around a little, but quickly headed out. We did stop on the way back to get shots of some of the waterfalls… and of some of the sheep.
It was at this time that the inevitable happened—I stepped in sheep shit. In all seriousness, it was pretty woolly. I guess it was a good thing it was raining because maybe it was easier to get off my shoe? I kind of just ended up with a mix of sheep shit, moss, grass, dirt, and gravel on my shoe. But the ratio of sheep shit was much less than it started out to be, so things were really looking up.
2 Ponies & A Restoration Forest
The last stop for the day was a restoration forest with Icelandic ponies in one of the northern islands. We found this spot on a travel blog and, I gotta say, it was a little misrepresented. So, way back when, in Iceland and in the Faroes, they clear-cut everything; there is next to no vegetation on these islands. The restoration forest is an effort to bring back some of the vegetation. However, when you get there, it’s really small. Like… really small. And Jeff and I didn’t even notice the ponies, which supposedly “greet you upon arrival.” We had to actively look for them. At any rate, it is a nice spot of woods. There are two ponies. (One pony… two ponies…) There is also a tiny wooden bridge being held up by temporary steel beams that Jeff and I drove over. (We noticed its construction after we drove over it, of course. Then we had to drive back over it.) It was a sweet place, the kind of place you’d picnic and bring a book to. Maybe blog there.
Today’s featured photo: The amazing Gásadalur waterfall we almost missed.
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