Day 2,035 of Traveling the World | Torshavn and Kirkjubour, Faroe Islands | August 25, 2023






Q: Which place is greener than Ireland, since it gets so many days of rain? A: The Faroe Islands. We have a new answer to the often-asked question: What is your favorite place on earth, having done so much traveling? The answer is, and probably always will be – the Faroe Islands.

We have never been in a place like this. It is hard to ever turn off the camera, as traveling down a highway or any small road is just filled with scenes that you must photograph! There are waterfalls every 50 feet or so while driving on the major thoroughfares. There are glimpses of bays, surrounded by mountains, and some with islands, and some islands with rings of clouds around them. But 30 minutes later, when driving back past the same scenes (because lots of small roads are dead-ends), there will be no clouds, and then the scene needs to be photographed all over again! It is wild, it is undeveloped, it is all pretty much left as it has always been, with little change and stunning nature everywhere. We have never seen anything like it.

The Faroe Islands likely got its name from ancient words for “sheep” and “islands” – Islands of the Sheep. (The Faroe Islands’ Coat of Arms consists of a blue shield with a white ram!) The sheep are ubiquitous, to be sure. They have the run of the roads and hillsides and shoulders and beaches. We even saw a Highland Cow blocking the road for a while! The Faroe Islands archipelago is an autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark. Situated in the North Atlantic, the Faroes are just about midway between Norway and Iceland. The population is 54,000 people, and a quarter of that number live in Torshavn, the capital city. Many of the villages we visited have 50 residents or fewer. There are a total of 18 islands, 17 of which are inhabited. They are well-connected by a series of tunnels, bridges, roads, and ferries, so it is very easy to drive among them. Some of the tunnels and some of the roads charge tolls, but they charge automatically to our rental car, so we have no idea how much our gallivanting will cost us. But we would say that it doesn’t matter – it is all so breathtaking and mesmerizing, that any amount we are paying is so worth it. We have run into small, one-lane roads that are built with occasional “pull-outs.” Whichever car is closest to the pull-out veers into it until the other car passes. If neither car is near one, a car will back up to the previous pull-out to allow the other car passage. It works fine.

As you will see in our photographs, many of the building have turf growing on them. They have been building that way for 1,000 years and still do it. Even our modern multistory hotel has turf on the roof. We read that it provides insulation and helps absorb the copious precipitation, helping to keep the soil around buildings from becoming waterlogged by runoff. It also looks quaint as heck.

It has been in the 50s, Fahrenheit, for our entire summer stay so far…but that is the typical temperature for this time of year. Many people are out with hats, gloves, boots, and coats, but we are more moderate. Jan wears an all-weather coat and Mike wears his usual short-sleeved shirts and shorts. He gets a few glances, but nobody says anything, of course. More to come – these photos are only from our first day!

Such a pretty garden in downtown Torshavn, so green and lush!
We picture this area filled with people – when it isn’t raining!
A pretty (partially 3D) mural in the town.
This statue duo is titled “Fria and Frida” (Hans Pauli Olsen, 2004). They cavort on a cliff, but of course you can’t see the ocean – FOG!
Believe it or not, the sign on the door says THIS is the Prime Minister’s Office! It is near the Torshavn Harbor.
A turf covered home, complete with bicycle.
The unusual inside of Torshavn Cathedral. The pews are latched and numbered, likely dating to the days when families “bought” their preferred seating spot.
The symmetry of the balcony and organ is so pretty!
The Paname Cafe provided us some warm coffee and cake on a cool, rainy day. Mike took a photo of it with the statue, as he said Jan and the statue looked like they were at about the same freezing point!
The inside was very quaint and cozy.
Statue of a circle of children dancing, probably because it is summer and thus warmer than the fierce winters.
A cute, picturesque little souvenir/snack shop.
What? You don’t speak Faroese? Sure you do – read the last two words!! What else do you need to know?
Torshavn Harbor, complete with the Cathedral’s spire.
Some of the colorful buildings and boats in the harbor. One boat was named Odin!
Along a country road, this bridge looks so medieval (except for the metal handrail – just ignore it).
The village of Velbastadur, on the road south of Torshavn to the most southerly point on the island. All are covered with turf.
A closeup of two of the houses.
The road that runs past them is one lane, with those occasional pull-outs.
This is the scene we see over and over again on the highways, with small and large waterfalls every 50 feet or so.
You can see several waterfalls here. Both photos were taken from a moving car.
The view of the valley and bay from our hotel on the first morning.
The view from our hotel the second morning – in the rare instance of morning sun.
This is the village of Kirkjubour, at the bottom of the island of Streymoy.
These two benches are outside one of the houses in the previous photo. They look like they have been there for hundreds of years – and perhaps they have been.
St. Olav’s Church, the only Faroese church from the Middle Ages still in use. St. Olav’s Day (July 29) is a national holiday in the Faroe Islands.
This is about the only tombstone that was still legible in St. Olav’s cemetery, dating to 1894. Due to the cemetery’s location and exposure to rain and wind from the North Atlantic, the other tombstone inscriptions are known only to history, having all disappeared.
The ancient ruins of St. Magnus Cathedral. Construction began in 1300 AD. It is just behind St. Olav’s.
The interior wasn’t very spacious.
This is the clearest of six heads constructed around a doorway, most probably local saints. Once again, erosion due to exposure to the elements is responsible for the deterioration.
This is all that is left of the depiction of the crucifixion on the rear outer wall of St. Magnus Cathedral.
They calmly eat on the shoulders of roads, they calmly walk across the road, they calmly stand in the middle of the road and ignore you…they reign!
…and if they see that you are photographing them, they will stare and stare at you until you leave, like this black and white guy.
A Highland Cow hangin’ out on the road before a horseshoe bend. There was a whole herd grazing on the side of this mountain. They looked so strange that we debated whether or not they were cows, until we looked them up and verified.

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