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FAROE INFO & DIARY  1
7/8-17/8 2020                

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 GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)
I have had the Faeroe Islands on my list for years. Technically, it is just another part of my homeland; Denmark, but it is so different! And where the former 120 countries I have visited had their own Lonely Planet guidebook, this one has none, not even in Denmark or Scandinavia! Talk about unknown territory!
The Faroe or Faeroe Islands, Faroese: Fųroyar and in Danish: Fęrųerne, are a North Atlantic archipelago located 320 kilometres north-northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland. The name actually started out as the "Sheep Islands" in old Nordic. It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
The islands have a total area of about 1,400 square kilometres with a population of 52,110 as of January 2020 - and around twice as many sheep. The vast majority of the population are ethnic Faroese, of Norse and Celtic descent. Faroese is spoken in the entire area as a first language.

The Faroe Islands are an island group consisting of 18 major islands and a total of 779 islands, islets, and skerries, all of volcanic origin. The terrain is rugged; the climate is subpolar oceanic climate; windy, wet, cloudy, and cool. The highest point; Slęttaratindur reach 882 metres. Temperatures average above freezing throughout the year because of the Gulf Stream. As a result of the moderation and the northerly latitude, summers normally hover around 12°C Average temperatures are 5°C in winter. The northerly latitude location also results in perpetual civil twilight during summer nights and very short winter days.

Archaeological evidence shows settlers living on the Faroe Islands in two successive periods before the Norse arrived, the first between 300 and 600 and the second between 600 and 800. Scientists from the University of Aberdeen have also found early cereal pollen from domesticated plants, which further suggests people may have lived on the islands before the Vikings arrived.

Between 1035 and 1814 the Faroe Islands were part of the Kingdom of Norway, which was in a personal union with Denmark from 1450. In 1814 the Treaty of Kiel transferred Norway to the king of Sweden, on the winning side of the Napoleonic wars, whereas Denmark retained the Faroe Islands, along with Greenland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing part of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948,controlling most areas apart from military defence, policing, justice, currency, and foreign affairs.
Because the Faroe Islands are not part of the same customs area as Denmark, the country has an independent trade policy, and can establish trade agreements with other states. In the Nordic Council, they are represented as part of the Danish delegation. In certain sports, the Faroe Islands field their own national teams.

The economy is mainly based on fishing, which, along with salmon farming make up 95% of the export and half of the Faroese national gross product.

The flora of the Faroe Islands consists of over 400 different plant species, of which a quarter is brought by mankind. The natural vegetation of the Faroe Islands is dominated by arctic-alpine plants, wildflowers, grasses, moss, and lichen - and a lack of trees. Most of the lowland area is grassland and some is heath, dominated by shrubby heathers, mainly Calluna vulgaris. Among the herbaceous flora that occur in the Faroe Islands is the cosmopolitan marsh thistle, Cirsium palustre.
 

The bird fauna of the Faroe Islands is dominated by seabirds and birds attracted to open land such as heather, probably because of the lack of woodland and other suitable habitats. Many species have developed special Faroese sub-species: Common eider, Common starling, Eurasian wren, Common murre, and black guillemot. The pied raven, a colour morph of the North Atlantic subspecies of the common raven, was endemic to the Faroe Islands, but now has become extinct.

Only a few species of wild land mammals are found in the Faroe Islands today, all introduced by humans. Three species are thriving on the islands today: Mountain hare; Lepus timidus, brown rat, Rattus norvegicus, and the house mouse; Mus musculus. Apart from these, there is a local domestic sheep breed, the Faroe sheep (depicted on the coat of arms), and there once was a variety of feral sheep, which survived on Lķtla Dķmun until the mid-nineteenth century.

Grey seals; Halichoerus grypus are common around the shorelines. Several species of cetacea live in the waters around the Faroe Islands. Best known are the long-finned pilot whales; Globicephala melaena, which still are hunted by the islanders in accordance with longstanding local tradition. Orcas; Orcinus orca are regular visitors around the islands.

DIARY
Realizing that my travel activities in the coming winter will probably be unusually limited due to the Corona outbrake, I came up with a “country” that has long been on my wish list: The Faroe Islands. My neighbour Michael has been there several times, and is fresh on one more trip.
Somewhat surprisingly, I have to admit Lonely Planet, which has otherwise kindly delivered guide books to the previous 120 countries, does NOT have anything about the Faroe Islands, not even in Denmark or Scandinavia the books! Fortunately, we know some natives of the islands and there is further information to be found online. It should probably be exciting, and for once: Also cosy, as much of the time will be socializing - it must be tried!
The timing is miserable: Summer finally hits the southern part of the kingdom, but the ticket is bought, the car reserved, the backpack packed and expectations screwed up.
On top of that, the Faroe islands, which had so little Corona virus the past time, is experiencing a larger out-brake yesterday, and it gain strength, as we arrival. Our host is actually forced into home-quarantine for two weeks.

7/8 2020.  The day when we will enrich the Faroe Islands with our presence. Up before the birds say "TWEET", impossible to wake-up the baker, but the train is ready and we find the airport. Where I otherwise always struggles freezing on the way to the airport, dressed in far too little warm clothes, this time I have plenty, as the the wonderful Zealand summer just kicked in with 30C, and the Faroe only experiences 10C.
Wearing the now suddenly usable surgery mask, we throw ourselves into the crowd, hoping for the best. In fact, the airport is a ghost airport.

We land on Vįgar Island as planned, and the weather alternates between cloudy and sunny - considered great around here. We plunder the duty-free, sneak through the customs and then through the tent, where we get a stick in our throat. I find a car key in a vending machine, and then a new great car in the parking lot. Contact-free key, buttons as gear-stick and "smart" all the way through. The Honda Civic is great!

Now that we are on Vįgar and the weather is reasonable, we'll just drive around and see a bit. Here is adventurous, and so much more beautiful, than I had expected!
Through a tunnel, and then the amazing Mślafossur waterfall reveals. It plunger from the high, green plateau, right into the sea. On the plateau, the little village of Gįsadalur is found. Here are a few, real small patches with barley; the only ones on the islands!

Then back through Bųur village, with its grass roofs on old wooden houses. They appears to have been build by Vikings in a distant past.
As we head further south, we passes Leitisvatn lake; The largest lake in the Faroe Islands. Along the shore are small stone houses with grass roofs for the boats. We drive exclusively through beautiful green hills, rugged cliffs and countless streams and waterfalls. Only a few places, we see some small gatherings of houses along the shore, or in the green hills. Sheep are everywhere, also on the road - which is smooth.

Then we drive through the larger but cosy village of Leitisvatn, but continue to Streymoy Island through the long tunnel. It is tempting to stop at countless places along the route, but we must also reach home to our hosts.
The weather holds, and after a short chat, we get a guided tour, and see the small but very beautiful Svatafoss waterfall, and the through real idyllic Kirkjubųur village, with the ancient Magnus Cathedral.
I think the Irish Monks might have finished the pub before the church - and as a result never finished the latter. 

On the way home, we enjoy the views of Thorshavn from the high cliffs, and the surrounding area. Home to delicious food and TV bingo - a big hit in the Faroe Islands. It gets way too late, but the evening is cosy and I get to add a lot of interesting sights to tomorrow's adventures.

Besides from the two larger toll tunnels, here are 18 shorter ones, and more will come. As most settlements are along the shoreline, and the the islands raises to 5-800 metres in the middle, they are essential to connect the settlements. Photos from Day 1.

8/8. After a very short night (4 hours), I am ready again. Unfortunately, my co-driver should probably have a little longer in the charger. At six o'clock the sun enters the lovely garden room, and I catch up with some office work from yesterday.

We start the day with the long trip up towards the northernmost - you can drive: Višareiši. It is a beautiful trip, but the weather is typically very changeable and the sun only appears in brief glimpses. We drive into deep fjords, and along high mountains, covered by a thin but sapphire-green cover of grass.

It seems like 99,999% of agriculture is made up of hay and sheep farming. The only other crop seems to be tiny patches of potatoes, found wherever the soul is deep and fine enough. 
Everywhere we go, is either villages, road or untouched nature - with the exception of the scattered sheep and scattered horses and rare cows. There is NO waste, and no trace of construction half a meter from the buildings. I have only seen the same respect for nature in Taiwan and Oman.
The roads are great, and here are real nice free public toilets everywhere.

We drive through Noršragųta, and see their old church from the car. It is from 1833, and built in wood with a lawn for roof. A little further north, we find the small bridge at Oyrarbakki. Then we are on Eysteruroy, which we drive across.
In Leirvik we find the long tunnel to Boršoy. In the middle of the tunnel, there are some art: Coloured lamps that light up the otherwise black cliff. We quickly reach Klaksvķk, but it is raining and reasonably murky. It seems to be lightening in the north, and we drive towards Noršdepil.
The mountains are larger, but still reasonably covered with grass. At Noršdepil we turn over the dam to Višdoy, and quickly see the easternmost island: Fugloy out in the sea.

In the small village of Višareiši, the hay-harvest is in full swing. It is laid by hand on long fences, before being driven home in small bags. In some places, fishing nets is laid over, to keep it in place.
Behind the whitewashed church, we find down to the sea, where the works of the waves are seen far up the rocks. There are a few flashes of sunshine and the photographer is happy.

Back down along Hvannasund and back on Boršoy.
Here we drive north, through several tunnels. They are from the late '60s and single-lane, but with yielding places. In Haraldssund we follow the zigzagged dike to Kunoy. Here we find Kunoy Bygd on the west side. Here are some beautiful old houses, but we are here for the forest and a huge boulder.

"Far out in the woods" is actually not very far, in the Faroe Islands. Several streams cross the area, and here is adventurously beautiful. The trees in Višarlundin ķ Kunoy are large, and here are many species, certainly an old trial plantation.
In the middle of the area is a detached giant rock, at least ten meters long. One end forms a perfect half-roof. Here are also quite a few flowers and I even find a flowering orchid. We trudge around the whole forest, and then head homewards - by detours.

Down on Boršoy the weather is better, and we now turn into Klaksvķk, the second largest town on the islands. First we find the big brewery: Fųroya Bjór. My co-driver then finds a café, with a great view, where we enjoy lunch. The weather does not entice for a city trip, so I just shoot a photo of the modern church from the car, before we return to Eysturoy, and turn south.

Through Lambi to Ęšuvķk, which has a perfect sandy beach. I trudge for a walk along the water, and find some large barnacles. Further down, high cliffs meet the harsh sea.
We cross over the island to the west coast and the small village of Nes, which is just a short strip of small houses and a church, along the coast.

There are some more flashes of sun, as we drive over the bridge at Oyrarbakki, where we turn south to Hvalvķk. Here is the black wooden church with the green grass roof from 1829. Other houses in the small village look just as old, but also perfectly maintained, like all other Faroese houses.

We follow the one-lane road up the infinitely deep but narrow fjord, and then the great river Svartį. We pass the large lake Saksunarvatn, and then get to Saksun. Here another deep fjord enters between high mountains.
High above the sea is Saksun Church, which was built here in 1858 - after they had demolished it in Tjųrnuvķk. The deep fjord has dried up at low tide - but it is not now.

We head home and stock up on some food at the local supermarket on the way. My o-driver is having a nap before he relaxes, and I am struggling through today's 250 photos and diaries. The sun is finally shining brightly - and I hope it lasts until tomorrow.
The evening is spend with great food and cosy company - along with a bit of planning and not least; A "new" Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Photos of the day.

Time for Diary 2.

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