Stevie Wanders: Faroe Islands

This small archipelago of pristine, unexplored islands lay in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean halfway between Norway and Iceland. Known as "The Islands of the Sheep and the Paradise of Birds," the Faroes are home to more sheep than people with a population of under 49,000 people in all of the islands.

The 18 islands are connected by underwater tunnels, ferries, bridges and causeways. Tourists, bird-watchers and hikers come to the Faroes to explore all the quaint islands have to offer.

Photo of Map: Wikipedia Endless sheep-grazing grasslands lead you to the tops of enormous steep coastal cliffs where thousands of seabirds from puffins to gannets dive to the depths of the crystal ocean waters.

There are a number of ways you can arrive to the Faroe Islands including both flights and boat ferries.

Photo of Map: Wikipedia Most people will arrive to the Faroe Islands by either Denmark or Iceland. I decided to take the scenic route via the 3-day ferry from the top of Denmark.

I took Smyril Line from Hirtshals, Denmark to Tórshavn,Faroe Islands over a three day period. We crossed the Shetland Islands near Scotland and then saw nothing but open water until we arrived in the small port of the Faroes.

The city if Tórshavn is capital of the Faroe Islands and only holds a population of about 13,000, the largest population in all of the islands. A charming and historical place to explore some of the incredible gastronomy scene and museums that the islands have to offer.

Outside of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, you’ll find there’s quite a bit to see in Tórshavn. The first I would recommend it the old parliament buildings. One of the oldest parliamentary meeting places in the world, the Løgting(parliament) dates back to 825 CE. With their matching bright red color and grass roofs, this is something you won’t see anywhere else in the world.

Tórshavn has theuniqueness unlike any other place I’ve seen before. When you walk these streets it’s as if you’re in Peter Pan and if you walk five minutes outside of town you find yourself in J.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

The beautiful thing about Tórshavn is that it is completely walkable. Explore an endless array of delightfully jumbled, grass-roofed cottages and historic homes.

The Faroe Islands has two breweries, Føroya Bjór &Okkara. Tórshavn actually has a large number of amazing bars and pubs. My favorite, however is the Irish Pub. With cluttered windows of old antiques, friendly bartenders and a pretty sweet menu this place has all the right makings for a pub. I almost forgot to mention that they have karaoke on the weekends… an absolute must do in the Faroe Islands!

You have the option of staying in nice hostels, boutique hotels or even a home-stay situation in the Faroe Islands.

During my months here, I Couchsurfed with an incredible couple both locals to the islands who not only hosted me in theirhome, but gave me personal tours of all of the islands.

Endless road trips throughout the islands are possible to do in anywhere from 2-10 days. The islands are small, but there is still plenty of discovering to do.

One of the first places to see on my list was Gásadalur. Gásadalur or Goose Valley is one of the most photographed spots in all of the islands. The waterfall runs straight off a cliff into the rocky ocean below.

Not too far away from Gásadalur lies Tindhólmur is an uninhabited islet on the south side of Sørvágsfjørður, west of Vágar. It has its name from the five peaks, which are calledYtsti (Farthest), Arni (Eagle), Lítli (Small), Breiði (Broad), and Bogdi (Bent). An incredible stop over on one of the many scenic drive routes.

Risinog Kellingin, otherwise known as the giant and the witch, are to basalt pillars that rise out of the ocean and soar over 300ft into the air. Another day drive from Torshavn, we all hopped in the car and headed towards the island of Eysturoy.

On our drive we encountered many trolls, hags and oagres, but my favorite of all the islands are of course… the sheep! The meaning of Faroe Islands comes from Saint Brendan who had visited the islands around 512-530. He named two of the islands Sheep Island and Paradise Island of Birds. There are two hiding in this picture…

Along the drive you’ll see many different forms of wildlife on the road anywhere from swans, sheep, geese and ponies. The one in the photo above is one of the Faroese ponies. They’re much smaller, fatter and more temperamental than Icelandic ponies. However, they’re still ponies and had he of fit in my suitcase he would have made the perfect souvenir.

Another adventurous option in the Faroes are to actually ride the ponies along the jagged cliff edges. We went on a two-hour all-seasons ride. While on our ride, we encountered rain, snow, sun and the in-between. It’s weather I’ve never seen anywhere else.

We had both Faroese and Icelandic ponies on our ride. A great way to explore a broader countryside if you're not wanting to get your boots too muddy.

We also had the pleasure of a sweet border collie to accompany us on the ride. During our ride she would run the trail to be sure everything that lay ahead be safe. She even managed to dodge falling off of a steep ledge once… a true Faroese dog indeed.

Another lovely day in the Faroe Islands for a drive... With the wind, fog, rain, snow you’ll see all four seasons in one day here. A fun way to explore some of the landscapes is driving through the underwater tunnels that connect the islands.

Kirkjubøur (Land of the Church or King’s Land) is the southernmost village on Streymoy. It is the Faroe Islands most important historical site being known as the spiritual center of the society in the Middle Ages. The black, red and blue house is the oldest inhabited wooden house in the world and dates back to the 11th century.The Faroe Islands don’t have trees. The legend of this wooden house was that the wood used to build it came as driftwood from Norway

The 17th generation of the Patursson Family, which has occupied it since 1550, is still living here. Kirkjubøargarður holds sheep, cattle and ponies. If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, be sure to drop by for a cup of coffee and some fresh mutton from the farmers.

The Faroese people are friendly and inviting. A friend of mine's family invited us for an authentic Faroese lunch during one of the many road trips.

A local family treated us to some of the more traditional food here in the islands. A fermented lamb leg which has been hung in a special drying room for about the last six months... Once you get past the smell it’s actually quite good on bread with butter. But then again, what isn’t good on bread with butter?

A most memorable trip was had in the Faroes with friendly locals, incredible authentic cuisine and unforgettable landscapes. These islands off anyone seeking an off the beaten path type of adventure. I'll most definitely be back someday for more!

What to Pack: Most visitors will visit the Faroe Islands during the green summer months when the weather stays around 60 F. Watertight and windproof clothes are good to pack for the changing climate along with a hat, sweater, rubber boots or waterproof hiking boots for mountain walking. Layers are always a great idea here because the climate is changing often. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen for the sunny days. A camera is always on my list for bringing back and sharing all of those special memories from my adventures. Binoculars are an essential if you're planning on doing any of the birdwatching here on the islands. There are many to see including puffins!




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