Thursday, June 27, 2013
It's Not the Faroe Islands Themselves, It's How You Can Get There
Across the North Atlantic lie island nations that were reportedly founded by wandering Vikings a thousand years ago. The islands have distinct similarities in the fact that they are all northern outposts, with lush green tundra landscapes, high cliffs and mountainous terrain. They all rely on the fishing industry as their main livelihood. They all used to belong to Denmark. The Faroe Islands are part of that collection, along with Iceland and Greenland. Iceland has been independent since 1944, but Greenland and the Faroes have remained as independent commonwealths of Denmark to this day.
The Faroe Islands lie just northeast of the British Isles, off the coast of Scotland. It is rumored that there were Irish clergymen in the Faroes before the Vikings arrived, but the subject is still in dispute. What most folks can tell you is that it is one of the most beautiful places you'll ever visit. My first impression of the Faroes is that it largely resembles Iceland, only without as many volcanoes.
Torshavn is the capital of this fabulous little archipelago of some nineteen islands. Only one of the islands is uninhabited, although there is one that only has one family residing on it. That is a tourist attraction, and the family loves to welcome visitors to see how they live. The uninhabited island is a mecca for bird watchers, and there are companies that will take you on a day trip to do just that. There are many species of seabirds that only live there, and bird enthusiasts from all over the world come to see them.
Here's one for you. The Faroe Islanders love music. All throughout the summer, there are music festivals...big ones. They are varied from classical to rock and happen all over the islands all summer long. The largest and most famous is the Gota festival that takes place in the village of Gota around the time of the country's national day of celebration in July. It's not easy to miss that festival if you happen to be anywhere in the islands around that time of year.
Now, Torshavn is a bustling port city where the fishing industry is alive and well, but don't let the image of a huge city get in your head. There are only about 50,000 people in the whole country. There are around 120 villages where the Faroese live, so the tiny population by modern standards covers a huge area.
The Faroe Islands have some of the most scenic drives in the world. They have far more paved roads than Iceland or Greenland, and even have some subterranean tunnels connecting various islands. The little villages that make up the country are found just anywhere, in valleys, along inlets and fjords. It's amazing the way these little towns just pop up in what seems like the middle of nowhere.
The Faroe Islands is one of the far north places that you have to see just for the landscapes. The people are friendly, the landscapes are surreal in their otherworldly beauty, and the music festivals are some of the most popular in western Europe.
But why do I mention this one in my blog? What is the adventure? Well, I always wanted to travel around the world without using commercial airlines. It's one of the things that I've always wanted to do. I've always wanted to do it entirely by ferry, train, etc. The Faroe Islands are accessible by commercial airlines. They have a beautiful airport. But they have something else that you just don't see every day.
Denmark felt the need to provide transportation between most of it's outlying commonwealths, and to this day there is ferry service from both Scotland and all the way from Denmark to the Faroes and as far as Iceland. Not only does this give you the option of bringing your car so that you can drive all the amazingly scenic roads, but it's like going on a cruise. There are cabins of all kinds available, you can order meals even before you leave online. It's a great way to get around. It is time consuming, but this is not the kind of trip that you take in a hurry.
So, the adventure is the travel to get there. I've found that it's possible to travel around the entire world without using commercial airlines to this day. It's that bucket list I have going and that trip is on top of the list. The Faroes are beautiful, friendly, and magical. Take the time to take a ferry ride. It's a great way to travel, and the Danes have left this one going all these years. Come, take a ride, take a drive, listen to some great music, and meet the people of the Faroe Islands.