Experience the islands by getting in touch with its people
The Faroe Islands: I did not create a “to-do-list” but rather a “to-experience-list” during my one-week visit to the Faroe Islands, these cute and green islands located between the North Atlantic Sea and the North Sea, somewhere between Iceland and Norway. I suggest spending plenty of time admiring the dramatic landscapes; the green steep mountains plunge vertically into numerous of fjords and sounds. Make a stop and visit colourful villages – no one is equal – and its like going back to childhood watching the green grass roofs covering so many houses. Or breath clean air, so sparkling that it seems you are not just breathing it, but also “drinking” it. Even “eating” it.
All this is not enough. You can’t experience the Faroe Islands without getting in touch with its people. It is very easy, whether you travel alone or in a group: sometimes it is enough to ask for a direction and gates to a new world will be open. If you have some difficulties, the person you ask will most likely end his work and go there with you. This happened to me several times.
Searching for Vikings. I will tell one example while visiting the small city of Leirvik looking for a church from the Middle Ages. I asked a young lady, and she answered: “Give me ten minutes, I have to deliver some stuff, then I will take you there”. I followed her car leading to the church. “Do you want to see ruins of the Vikings?” she asked. Of course I did and she took me there and explained many interesting things about Faroese history and culture. When I left, it was like I had been visited a university.
Talk to me. The Faroese are kind and social and they like to talk with foreigners. Its like they reveal; “Please, talk with me”. They speak Faroese – an Old Norse language similar to Icelandic – and they learn Danish in school as a second language. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing country, with their own Parliament, within the Kingdom of Denmark, but outside the European Union. To find English speaking people is not granted, even if most people are able to talk in English. Someone does it fluently, others in a basic way. When two islanders meet, they often start talking to each other – even if they never met before.
No stress. The Faroese style of life is relaxed and quiet, probably influenced by the breathtaking nature surrounding them, that seems to give a different light to daily problems. “Normally we don’t have sign of stress”, a gentleman explained.
They also have a unique and strong attitude to hospitality and it is likely that a local person, or a family, invites visitors to their home. It happened to me several times
.For instance, when I visited the island of Bordoy, looking for a rock that – according to a legend – cracked in two parts in the moment when Jesus was born. I asked a family for direction to the rock located in the area of Fossá. However, it is not so easy to get there for a stranger so they order a young boy to take me there. While we reached the rock, his mother called and invited me to the family’s house, the lady had prepared for a tea break with some local dishes. We talk all together for half an hour about the islands, about my hometown and many other things. When I left it was like I was saying goodbye to my own family.
Hospitality. People explain the Faroese hospitality with something happened when I saw two tourists trying to sleep outdoor and one guy invited them to sleep in his house. Not afraid that something wrong could happen? I asked. “No, if tourists steal from my house, then they will be caught before leaving the islands. There is no risk”.
The best way to get around is by car. The transport system is efficient, but not frequent, even if busses take you everywhere. In the islands there is the national company of buses and ferries, and the ones of the capital Torshavn where a bus ride is for free. A bus driver helped med to find a guesthouse, even if I didn’t have any reservation.
The best coaches. On my last journey to the islands only airport I paid my ticket with a big banknote in Faroese Kroner. Here the local currency has the same value as of the Danish Kroner. Danish Kroner is accepted on the islands, but Faroese Kroner isn’t in Denmark and probably it is difficult to exchange them in any European bank. So, the driver remarks: “I better give the change in Danish”. Just to avoid me any problems.
While I was leaving the islands, I could read on the blue bus something like this: “Appointed the best coaches for 2008”. It’s easy to understand why.
Click large photos of Faroese