Travels in the North

Musings on arctic holidays

Tag Archives: Smyril Line

Reliving an old trip – 22nd June 2005 – Laundry and Ferry

Bit of a nothing day today. Got up late feeling rough, hungover for the second time in my week on the Faroes. Managed to find a laundrette in town and did some washing ­čśÉ

By the time I’d done this, got back to the campsite and packed up my tent it was already 5pm and time to head off to the ferry, I was catching the Smyril line to Sey├░isfj├Âr├░ur in East Iceland that evening.

I board the ferry, the Norrona (the same ferry that brought me here from Shetland this time last week) and settle in to the canteen. I’m struck that there are more signs around telling you not to eat your own food than there are menus or useful signs telling you stuff you can do.

Reliving an old trip – June 15 2005 – The Norr├Âna and Torshavn

I’d fallen asleep in the canteen about the Norr├Âna Smyril Line ferry from Lerwick to Torshavn, and as such couldn’t really complain that I was woken up at 8am by an army of kids running around and screaming. Still, it was a tad irritating having got to sleep at about 4 (we only left Lerwick at 2). But I’d had a few hours kip, and mercifully the sea was again calm. I started to think about the Faroes, somewhere I’d wanted to visit ever since reading about them at the back of a guidebook to Iceland I’d had for years. I still had seven hours on board though. I tried to tune my radio and couldn’t get any British stations, I finally found a crackly music station and the first four songs were Abba, Stevie Wonder, Status Quo and Abba (again), I knew this could only be Faroese National Radio (Utvarp Foroya)

Smyril Line Norr├Âna

Smyril Line Norr├Âna

The hours passed. I ate a little, although not having the greatest sea legs in the world I was careful not to overdo it. Most of the other passengers on the boat were Faroese, which I guess was no great surprise. I enjoyed listening to the Faroese language, sounded like a much softer (and less harsh) German, although I should point out I’m certainly no linguist.

Finally, after several more hours, the Faroes came into sight on the horizon. They were just like I’d imagined, tiny colourful villages clinging on to the side of sheer mountains coming straight out of the sea.

Arriving in Torshavn

Arriving in Torshavn

Arriving in Torshavn I made for the campsite, wasn’t too far a walk but carrying all my gear in an unseasonal heat wave (20 degrees!) was hard work. There were two other British couples at the campsite both on bike tours. The campsite was in a nice location slightly out of town right by the sea. Pretty basic facilities but more than adequate for the 5 campers here! There was a friendly local woman running the site.

Torshavn Campsite

Torshavn Campsite

Having set up my tent and relaxing for half an hour, I headed into town. A cramp at the back of my right foot was now getting worse, it had come on during the walk I did on Unst a couple of days ago. Maybe it was my walking boots, but I was planning to do a fair amount of hiking over the next few weeks so it’s a bit concerning.

Tinganes Parliament Building

Tinganes Parliament Building

In town I went to Skansin, an old fort, with some great views. Then took a quick look at Tinganes (the parliament building), which was typically low key. Then I headed to the Tourist Information Centre, and chatted to an Irish guy outside who’d been over here for the football (a European championship qualifier) the week before. He’d been all over the Faroe Islands and seemed to love it.

Traditional turf roofed house in Torshavn

Traditional turf roofed house in Torshavn

I then went to Niels Finsens Gota, the main shopping street in Torshavn. I’m on quite a tight budget for my trip, and found a pizza place selling takeaway pizza for 70kr but this made me realise it wasn’t going to be a cheap destination, but then that’s Scandinavia for you.

Small harbour in Torshavn

Small harbour in Torshavn

Having only got a few hours kip on the ferry the previous night I went back to the campsite fairly early and got an early night. Despite the almost perpetual daylight slept like a log ­čÖé

Reliving an old trip – June 14 2005 – Hitchhiking & Mousa

Another early start this morning, had to be up at 6am in order to catch a bus from Unst back to mainland (mainland the main island on Shetland, I don’t mean back to┬áthe┬ámainland).

The bus was late and I was starting to worry about missing my ferry connection to Yell (where I was due to catch another bus which went all the way back to Lerwick via another ferry). Spurred on by yesterday’s impromptu offer of a lift from a local I tried hitchhiking for the first time in my life – and to my surprise the first car stopped. I suppose people in these rural communities tend to help each other out like that. The driver was an old lady and drove me all the way to the Yell ferry which I was very grateful for.

Lerwick Bus Shetland

My main sightseeing activity of the day was a trip to Mousa Broch, brochs being old iron age forts specific to the Northern islands and the far North East of Scotland. Mousa is the best preserved of the brochs, on an uninhabited island of the same name, a tour company charters boats to go out there.

Mousa

Mousa

We had about two hours on Mousa which was plenty of time to see the broch and go for a walk. I’d asked on the boat if anyone was driving back to Lerwick as the bus times would’ve left me with a two hour wait, and a German couple had offered, only for me to realise when we got back that they thought I was offering┬áthem┬áa lift, they didn’t speak much English.

Mousa Broch

Mousa Broch

With all the other boat passengers rapidly driving away I was a bit panicked but managed to ask the last remaining couple if they were headed back to Lerwick and fortunately they were. They were a very friendly couple from Nottingham and invited me back to their rented cottage for a cup of tea before heading back, after a few days on my own I was really grateful for the company.

Back in Lerwick and again at the mercy of the limited eating options I got some chicken and chips from a takeaway and sat on the harbour eating them, which annoying and predictably attracted a lot of seagulls. I then had a few hours before my 1:30am ferry to the Faroe Islands so went to a couple of pubs.

Da Noost was the first place I went, nice enough but quite a young crowd in there, although there was an eccentric bloke at the bar which added a bit of interest.

Then I went to Captain Flints, which as the name suggests was a nautically themed pub. I didn’t want to drink too much before my ferry so left about 10:30pm to head to the ferry port.

We finally boarded (slightly late) the Smyril Line ferry at 2:00am, it had been slightly late arriving from it’s last destination, Bergen in West Norway. I’m far enough North now that it still wasn’t completely dark, we are just a week off the longest day of course.