Travels in the North

Musings on arctic holidays

Tag Archives: Streymoy

Reliving an old trip – 20th June 2005 – The Queen of Denmark and Nolsoy

For the second day in a row I slept through my alarm, missing once again I’ve missed the bus and connecting ferry to Mykines. It was blowing an absolute gale last night so I console myself that the ferry crossing (supposedly notoriously choppy) would’ve been a bit of a nightmare anyway.

I decided to go to Nolsoy instead, the island immediately East of Torshavn which supposedly makes a good day trip. There was noone around at the campsite but a note at reception said the Queen of Denmark was visiting the Faroes today – which would no doubt explain the cannon firing I’d just heard.

Niels Finsens Gota

Niels Finsens Gota – the main shopping street in Torshavn, decorated with flags for the visit of the Queen of Denmark

I walked into Torshavn, there were lots of Danish and Faroese flags flying and quite a few Faroese people in national dress. I saw the Queen walk down one of the main shopping streets, it was refreshing how little security there seemed to be.

queen of denmark visits torshavn

Terrible picture but you can just about see the Queen’s left arm (in white)

Royal Excitement over I left for the ferry to Nolsoy. The wind was still quite strong at this point, and even though the crossing was just 20 minutes I was very glad to reach dry land. I walked from Nosloy Village to the lighthouse at the southern tip of the island at Borðan, a 6km walk each way. It was an impressive lighthouse, helped by the remote setting. Unfortunately the visibility had dropped and I couldn’t even see as far as Streymoy where I’d just come from. On the walk back to Nolsoy village I stopped to sit down but was immediately set upon by large sea birds swooping down, not sure if they thought I was dead or were trying to attack – but it meant I couldn’t really take a break and had to keep walking.

The lighthouse at Borðan on Nolsoy

The lighthouse at Borðan on Nolsoy

Back in Torshavn I was shattered, had some fast food at a place called City Burger which was pretty horrible,  before heading back to the campsite for an early night.

Reliving an old trip – 19th June 2005 – Driving Vagar, Streymoy and Eysturoy

There’s something of a “morning after the night before” as I wake up at 11:30, feeling like death warmed up. Maybe it was the whale meat I ate last night…or the copious amount of beer I drank I’m not sure. Either way I’ve comfortably missed my 8am ferry, with connections carefully planned to visit Mykines, the remote island in the West of the Faroese archipelago.

I couldn’t face doing much, but did manage to turn my radio on, I must have tuned it into Radio 4 long wave last night as that’s what came on, and it was cricket commentary from a one day international in Bristol between England and Australia. A few references were made to the heat in England, a whooping 30 degrees, I still hadn’t opened the curtains but was fairly confident it was significantly less than that here. I love holidaying in the arctic 🙂

After a bit more cricket commentary and a bit more feeling sorry for myself and my hangover, I look at the ferry timetable and decide to go for the 14:45 back to Eysturoy (and then Torshavn via bus).  After packing up my stuff I bumped into Valti again (the Icelandic fisherman I’d met the night before) and he offered me a lift as he was “going for a drive”. I still felt like death, but given my lack of transport and desire to see as much of the Faroes as I could I took him up on the offer.

Eiði Faroe Islands

Taking in the view at Eiði

It was absolutely fantasic, even with my hangover. You see so much more in a car than you could on the bus and ferries. We drove around Northern Eysturoy, which has some incredibly picturesque villages including Eiði and Gjogv, the latter of which I realised I’d seen in various tourist brochures. We went for dinner in Hotel Eiði where we had a decent steak and chips and enjoyed the view down to the harbour. The service was somewhat surly, in stark contrast to the Faroese hospitality I’d enjoyed thus far.

Gjogv Faroe Islands

Gjogv

After dinner we drove across to Vagar (an island in the west where the airport is), through the recently opened (as of 2005) Streymoy-Vagar tunnel, paying 170Kr for the privilage which Valti and I agreed was a rip off. Still, I guess these tunnels don’t come cheap. On Vagar we got as far as Bour on the West coast before heading back to Streymoy, where Valti dropped me off at the campsite in Torshavn. By now it was almost midnight (and still light of course), but was windy and rainy and putting my tent up was difficult (my hangover still hadn’t completely surpassed), but finnaly getting into bed was heavenly. I slept like a log through the impending storm.

Gjogv Faroe Islands

Gjogv

Reliving an old trip – 18th June 2005 – Part One – Cloudy Klaksvik

“Ridiculous” was my inital thought as my alarm clock went off at 5am.  It was already light of course, in fact it never really gets dark this far North so close to the summer equinox, but still wasn’t easy getting up and packing up my tent at this ungodly hour.

The reason for the early start was that I had a long journey ahead of me, and Faroese public transport timetables being what they are, I pretty much had to catch the first ferry back from Suðuroy to Torshavn at 7am. It got in just after 9, just in time to catch my connecting bus to Leirvik (whose name comes from the same origin as Lerwick in Shetland, the old Norse for muddy bay). Have to praise the efficient Faroese public transport here, there are only about three buses a day but they are timed to connect with ferries which makes for a smooth journey.

Leirvik Faroe Islands

Leaving Leirvik on the ferry

The journey to Leirvik on Eysturoy (the island immediately to the East of Streymoy where the capital Torshavn is) involved going through three tunnels. The Faroese have quite an impressive network of tunnels blasted through mountain rock linking communities which historically could only have been done by boat or on foot over the mountains. We also passed through several picturesque villages I was sorry not to have time to see properly. Streymoy and Eysturoy are linked by the Sundini bridge, nicknamed the “bridge over the atlantic”. It doesn’t really compete with the great bridges of the world, is no Golden Gate bridge or even Hammersmith bridge, but saves another ferry journey at least.

Leirvik Klaksvik Ferry Faroe Islands

On the ferry from Leirvik to Klaksvik

At Leirvik I did have to get another ferry, to Klaksvik on the island of Borðoy, the second largest town in the Faroe Islands after the capital Torshavn. Was a very eerie journey with very low cloud cover (perhaps about 100m) covering the mountainous islands surrounding the ferry (edit: since my trip a tunnel has since been built between Eysturoy and Borðoy).

Klasvik Halsur Faroe Islands

View over Klaksvik from Halsur

I arrived in Klaksvik at midday, not bad going getting from one end of the Faroes to another in five hours. I couldn’t find the campsite in Klaksvik so booked into the youth hostel where I got a single room for 120Kr. After a few nights under canvas I was chuffed with this – what luxury! Having checking in I set out on an afternoon hike up to Halsur, a mountain pass 245 metres above sea level. It was still pretty cloudy but I got some great views. On the way back into town I saw Föroya Bjór, the Faroese brewing company. There didn’t seem to be any kind of visitor centre sadly though, it was just a warehouse.

Föroya Bjór

Föroya Bjór, the beer of the Faroe Islands

Back at the hostel I turned on my radio and tuned into Faroese radio, who were broadcasting a brass band programme, featuring the Britannia Building Society band. Seems to be a real mix of music on Faroese radio, I’m becoming a bit of a fan. The hostel was pretty quiet, the only other guest I saw was an Icelandic man from the Reykjavik area, he was very friendly although his English was very limited which made conversation tricky. He offered to drive me to the island of Kunoy – drivable from Borðoy via a causeway – which I gladly took him up on.

Reliving an old trip – 17th June 2005 – Suðuroy

My ferry to Suðuroy (or Sue Roy as I think the locals pronounced it – can anyone help here?), which is the Southern most island of the Faroese archipelago, didn’t leave untlil 12:30. This meant I could leisurely pack up my tent at the campsite and have a pretty relaxed morning. Of the 4 other people at the campsite when I arrived, just 2 were left now, a British couple spending four weeks on the Faroes who I chatted to. I was jealous – I’m here for a week which is probably longer than most people get, but wow four weeks would be great. They were cycling round the islands, and as I type this up some seven years on from the trip I’m now massively into cycling myself (in fact I’ve got the highlights from the Tour de France on as I type) and perhaps I’ll have to do a similar trip soon….Anyway I digress.

I got to the ferry terminal about 10, and being the Faroes was able to leave my bag on a shelf (not even in a locker) free of charge, and I wasn’t particularly worried about it. No terrorism or theft threat here. I walked up to the Kings Monument, which was nothing special in itself, but did afford a beautiful view over Torshavn.

My ferry was called the Smyril, and used to be on the Smyril line going all over the North Atlantic. Now it just did the journey between Streymoy and Suðuroy, and was looking pretty tired, and is due to be replaced. The 90 minute journey was stunning, and worth doing just to see the small islands of Stora and Litla Dimun on the way. Litla Dimun was particularly impressive, a tiny island, just a mountain top really sticking out of the ocean. There used to be a farm on the island and it was home to around 15 people, but is now deserted.

Litla Dimun Lítla Dímun

Litla Dimun

Upon my arrival at Drelnes on Suðuroy I got the bus to the hostel in Øravík. Apart from a couple from Torshavn staying at the guesthouse next door, it was completely deserted. It was now about 3:30 and I set off on a walk to Famjin, home of the first Faroese flag, but the terrain was heavy going and my feet were still aching so I didn’t make it all the way. Back the hotel I got a takeaway pizza (it’s a bit of a weird setup with a combined youth hostel, guest house, hotel and pizza counter, I guess this is the way to do it in such a remote place). I watched a little Faroese television, some kind of quiz show was on.

Tvøroyri

Tvøroyri, seen from the ferry

I feel I could’ve planned this Suðuroy trip a little better, I’ve spent a lot of time hanging around today, and have got a very early start tomorrow to catch a ferry back so feel like I haven’t really given Suðuroy a fair go. It’s now 8 o’clock, there’s noone else here and I don’t fancy sitting at the bar on my own so it’s probably an early night, especially with my early start tomorrow. Still at least I made it here, albeit breifly, and it gives me a reason to return one day. I’d like to visit the village of Tvøroyri and also go right to the South of the island.