Faroe Islands — Day 2
The sun is slowly beginning to rise and with it, the town of Fuglafjørður begins to awake. All across the coastal hills, lights are being switched on, as the hills light up like a switchboard.
Over my shoulder, there is an industrial process taking place. The machines are in overdrive, pumps sucking and grinding the fish, spraying fish water throughout the air. While the view in front of me looks like the cover of a 2000 piece jigsaw box, that wouldn’t look out of place in the communal area of a nursing home. The setting could have been so tranquil if I had positioned myself in another direction and wore industrial strength ear plugs.
There was a moment when a pilot boat approached the pier. A man jumped onto the boat and they cruised down the bay out of sight, leaving only the ripples from their path. There was something so beautiful about this as if an air of serenity had fallen over Fuglafjørður.
Once the sun had finally risen, we were nearing the end of our shift. On the journey up to the Faroe Island, I had a list of tasks and places that I wanted to visit while I was here. The thought of driving around a snow covered island surrounded by steep hills wasn’t one of the tasks I had in mind. So I opted for the bus. After a quick shower, my brother and I walked slowly into the small town. He was decked out in a pair of Lidi hiking boots that he claimed was the best €30 he had ever spent. Strapped to my back was probably 20lbs of camera gear, and strapped to my feet was footwear that needed to re-evaluated, if I was going to manage the full day out wandering the Faroe Islands. We entered what seemed to be the only shoe shop in the town. We spent about 30 minutes in the shop, as I squeezed my odd sock wearing, oversized feet into overpriced boots, and then decided to settle on a pair of waterproof runners called Pole Cats.
With no time to mess about, I kept the new shoes on and placed the old shoes into a bag and gave them to my brother to bring back to the boat. As we made our way to the bus stop, my brother slid on the road, but thankfully my Pole Cats were working their magic. It did cross my mind though, what if I did fall? Would I be able to get back up with this monstrosity strapped to my back?
I got on the bus, armed with a minuscule map and timetable printout from the local tourist information centre. I pointed to the locations and tried to pronounce the destinations. The bus driver informed me that the bus I was getting on wasn’t direct and that I’d need to wait an hour for the direct bus. I decided against this and thought I’d make my way to Nordragota which was the last stop before the bus went to the neighbouring island of Klaksvík. Two stops later I found myself getting off the bus at a service station, thinking where am I. In the distance I could see that there was a village about 15mins walk away, so I made my way towards it.
As I approached the village, you could see the wooden church in the centre of the village, which dates back to 1833.
There was no-one around. I began to think where was everyone? Ok, it was around 11 am, but it seemed that there was no-one was about. I guess half of the population were at school, 1/4 of them at work, and the remaining amount were probably sitting in their homes looking out the window wondering what the hell I was doing, as I began to set up my camera to do some long exposure photography near a stream.
Time was coming to an end, so I made my way back up to the bus stop. When I arrived at the bus stop I found myself thinking...Have you ever found yourself at a bus stop, there I was standing beside an older woman who wasn't instantly crazy on appearance, but she made my own style seem normal. Me, in sneakers, a backpack big enough to scare off an army and styled in autumn gear while standing in the middle of a mountain in sub-zero temperatures, her blowing un-inhaled smoke into my face. I was unsure of this welcome, or if I had in-fact crossed the local crazy. I didn't introduce myself to find out. I had to refer back to my street smarts in order to make it out alive. Keep the head down and say nothing. Things could go loco.
That was my only interaction of Nordragota. With a population of 500, I got to meet 1. Don’t get me wrong, Nordragota was beautiful, like every other area I visited on the Faroe Islands.
Ok, back to the journey. The bus for Tórshavn pulled up and I got on. To my surprise the bus was packed. And as you’d expect, the odd single seat was taken by the usual small bag, and the loosely closed eyes of a somewhat sleepy pretending passenger, hoping that I wouldn’t request the seat. I managed to find a seat, and with luck, the couple in-front of me got off at the next stop, so I managed to get a window seat. I sat there looking out the window amazed by the view. My eyes widened by the sheer scale of the landscapes, and the hairpin roads that lay below. That final scene of the movie Force Majeure ran through my mind, as I gazed down over the snow covered mountains as the bus driver drove on like it was a summer’s day. It’s times like this where you look towards other people for reassurance in your fear, but no-one seemed fazed. I was the only one thinking that we were seconds from death at every turn in the road.
Travelling along the route towards Tórshavn there weren’t many roads until you got closer to the City. I’d say that it would be a great place to explore outside of the winter months.
Once the bus pulled into the city of Tórshavn, I made my way to a Sushi bar called Erika/etika. Nice setting and the food was fantastic.
I had 3 hours to wait until the next bus for the airport arrived, so I spent that time walking around the area in town and along the pier.
I made my way back to the bus stop and boarded the bus for the Vágar airport, as I was planning on making my way to Gasadalur.
By the time it arrived at the airport I was the only one on the bus, and once I walked into the airport it seemed like everyone was closing up shop. It appears that this is an airport that gets a few flights a day. I spoke to the tourist board at the airport inquiring on how I could get to Gasadalur. They called a taxi for me.
When the taxi arrived, I asked him to bring me to Gasadalur. Along the way, he pulled in at places of interest and informed me of the area. The scenery was spectacular; I only wish that I had more time to take it all in. Every turn there was something that I wanted to photograph. I had a feeling that this must be what visitors to rural Ireland must experience.
Visiting Gasadalur, which is a remote area on the island of Vagar with a population of 18 people, reminded me a bit of areas like Slieve League in Donegal. Undoubtedly, this was their Wild Atlantic Way.
With that location ticked off the list, I was cautious of the time and cost of the Taxi ride, so it was back to the Airport. Once I back I had over an hour to spare until the next bus. It was only me and a few workers carrying out repairs inside the airport, so with the sun setting, I decided to walk over to the airport hotel and grab a coffee.
One thing I noticed was how quiet everything was. Making my way back from the Hotel in the snow sipping on my instant coffee from a plastic cup you used to get on an airline. (You know the ones with the awkward handle). There was nobody around, it was getting dark, no traffic and if there was any sound it was being absorbed by the snow. The whole experience was very eerie.
From the Airport, you could see the main road, and with the bus timetable in hand, I waited for my bus to arrive. After waiting about 30 minutes, I noticed a bus drive by. Why? I feared that the bus only stopped at the airport when flights were scheduled. I was beginning to worry. I had a bus connection to get in Tórshavn, I was low on cash and it was getting late. There was another bus scheduled but that would mean that I wouldn’t catch the connecting bus.
About 50 minutes later than advertised, along came my bus. The moment I saw it pull onto the Airport road I was relieved. But if life has taught me anything, it is not to get your hopes up. Just like in Jaws 2, when those kids were ecstatic as the helicopter arrives to rescue them. Sure he didn’t even get to take off! That was my fear that this bus was going to drive by. Luckily for me, all worked out in the end. On I got, and I made my way down the bus aisle. The heater was on, the music was playing and it was pitch dark outside and I couldn’t see a thing. Not a worry to be had. Well... there was one, it was just I and the bus driver and what appeared to a “good” friend of his. As the bus sped along the roads I hoped he wasn’t:
A: Trying to impress her with his fast driving abilities or
B: She wasn’t distracting him.
I made it back to the town of Fuglafjørður around 10 pm. The streets were empty, but song and laughter filled the air. Something about that made me smile. It was great to hear.
The next morning, we left Fuglafjørður.
Less than 48 hours here and it’s somewhere I’ll never forget, and one that I hope to return to soon. I don’t think there was any better way to leave the Faroe Islands than by sea. The views along Eysturoy, Kalsoy, Borðoy and Streymoy were just simply stunning.