I’ve been dying to write this post because my trip to the Faroe Islands was mind-blowing. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. It was exhilarating and enticing and this place can truly feed souls if you are soul seeking, which I just happened to be. It just seemed so untouched, so serenely peaceful and amazing, and it meant so much to be one small human taking it all in. I literally could not calm my shaking hands during the whole week because I was truly living with a constant and ever present mini adrenaline rush from all the things I was seeing and doing.
This trip allowed me to come full circle and appreciate and understand the reason for this insistent search for independence, a drive to experience new and exhilarating things, and just appreciate life and different cultures and our world in general. These are all the reasons why I want to fight to conserve and make this world a better place. Because it really matters.
So without further ado, this is my trip to the Faroe Islands, which occurred the last week of October 2017. It was memorable the moment I boarded the plane in Edinburgh. My seat mate, Arielle, and I both realized that we were traveling alone and looking for spectacular things to do. I had booked a 6 night 7 day stay at Giljanes Hostel through booking.com and absolutely loved it! [If you do not have an account with booking.com use my referral and we both get $25 off!! They have some good deals for places to stay.]
We landed in the Faroe Islands on a gust of wind at around 22:23 that evening and there was not a peep in the airport. It was all but closed and we realized very quickly that there was no public transport this late at night. Arielle and I called a taxi service but they told us it would be at least 1.5 hours before they would arrive because they would be coming from Tórshavn the capital which was a couple islands over and the cost would be over $400.
Also Sidenote, when you fly into the airport, look around because they have hiking guides for free and I used that to read up on all of the different hikes, which helped me decide which ones I wanted to do most.
Kristian, the owner of the hostel was so accommodating. I called him after 11pm to ask if I was too late to check-in seeing as how the airport was pretty much closed, and he offered to come pick me up. He had been out at one of the few parties they hold each year, and I quickly realized that my hostel only about a fifteen minute drive from the airport. Arielle waited for a taxi with 2 other men heading towards the capital and we exchanged whatsapp numbers with the hope that we would meet up the next day.
On the drive to the hostel Kristian told me that he loved the name Cassandra so much that he and his wife had sent a petition to the capital to have their daughter named Kasandra (They don’t have C’s, similar to the Dutch). It had taken almost 9 months before the government agreed to allow it because it is very difficult to move away from the usual Faroese names. What an interesting story!
The next morning, the weather was not looking great so I caught a ride with another Hostel guest Andrea from Giljanes to Tórshavn and did much of my site seeing in the capital then. I stopped at the bank to get some Faroese króna but they also take Danish Korne, I just wanted to see what the Faroese currency was like.
The next morning the weather was looking very promising! Arielle took the bus to my hostel very early and when she arrived we immediately set out on our first hike.
SØRVÁGSVATN/LEITISVATN LAKE in MIÐVÁGUR,VÁGAR
I mean.. the curving greens and the dusty browns mix together so masterful and fluidly. That was the allure I kept seeing over and over, the way the rolling landscape melded together onto and through itself.
When we hiked up here, it was so refreshing not to run into any other souls until we crested the mountain. There were 2 photographers set up in the perfect alcove and we crept close to take a few shots of our own.
I could have sat here all day mesmerized by this viewpoint, but Kristian was letting us rent his car as the rental cars on the Faroe Islands are quite expensive and he had an old beater that he was willing to rent to me for $30 / day. I was elated, and was ready to head off for an adventure in it.
So after our last pictures were done, we packed up and headed out back towards the town of Vagar, to the Bonus grocery store to pick up the car, which was parked out back. And here she is, what a beauty. I affectionately named her Patty Mayonnaise because she was the Periwinkle color like what Patty from Doug always wore. Arielle loved that so we stopped for some gas and headed toward SLÆTTARATINDUR, the tallest peak on the Faroe Islands.
Boy had the weather turned from the day before, we were looking at blue skies and sunshine and the open road felt good with the windows cracked. Of course even these tiny towns out here had their Football fields as the centerpiece.
The sheep are free roaming here on the islands. With tags and trackers to distinguish whose is who, you’ll find these guys all over the place. Although, we were visiting right at the end of the butcher season so many sheep had been steered into corrals for that. They live a good life here, getting to see these views everyday.
I found out that it was the butchering season because the first night I stayed at my hostel I met Andrea who is a Swedish Journalist that has been traveling back and forth to write about the Faroe Islands. She’s the one who took me into town and her stories and perspective was absolutely fascinating. She had lived in Greenland for over 3 months and recently wrote a piece about the Oslo bombings, where she interviewed some of the survivors, which was actually a breathtakingly raw peice I have been following recently. Here is her instragram if you’d like to follow her. I do because I think she’s so awesome, but I also love her perspective and the way she captures a story.
Then you head down roads like this with a backdrop that almost seems fake, and realize how small the population is that gets to take in these views and drive these roads on a daily basis.
I love this picture because it gives you a look into an entirely different lifestyle, as if to give us the promise that we too could also escape reality for awhile. I also love all the colors on these houses!
That backdrop is glorious.
We eventually found our way to the start of SLÆTTARATINDUR and began the climb. Slaettaratindur is the Faroe Islands tallest peak at 880 meters. That doesn’t seem like much but it was all uphill from the bottom so we had quite the time weaving in-between sheep along the path as we steadily climbed upwards.
At the top, on a clear day, you can see all 18 peaks of the mountains on the Faroe Islands which is a pretty spectacular thing. The clouds were sitting a little low, but had ourselves quite a view from up there and saw quite a bit nonetheless.
We only saw 2 other people during the climb, which added even more to the special moments of this day. Arielle and I spent quite some time at the top taking photos and enjoying ourselves and realized that only guy showed up behind us and his wife was missing. She was back on the side of the mountain having a complete panic attack. That was interesting, When we were finished and ready to head back we helped coax her down off the mountain and back to “safety.” I’d say we definitely saw over half the peaks from up here, and it was really nice just to take in the scene in silence and at our leisure.
Then it was back down the trail and towards Patty Mayonnaise down at the bottom. With hills it is often very hard to snap a photo of how steep a climb is as the incline just does not seem to transfer into pictures. Here I think you can pick up a bit of that as you see the distinct diagonal in the photo. I really like how this picutre portrays the slope.
After we got back to the car from this hike we headed back toward Tórshavn so I could drop Arielle off but also made a quick detour for a time lapse and some windmills.
After that I headed back to the hostel for a hearty meal, a hot shower, and some beer which we had picked up at the bonus earlier in the day.
On this night a few more people had arrived to the hostel where it had been just about empty the past couple days, which was nice.
Now, I had read in another blog post while I was researching the Faroe Islands that there were helicopter rides for a very low cost between the islands because, like all the transportation, it is subsidized by the government. I told Arielle this on the plane and she was keen to try to get a flight if we were able so we did our research and decided to take a helicopter from Klaksvik to Tórshavn after reviewing the list of availabilities and working out the logistics.
But first, before we get into all that, we decided to do a hike in the morning because the weather forecast was looking good. So, I picked Arielle up at a gas station the bus stops at so that she could get up out of the capital and we wouldn’t have to back track overly much since we would be doing that later, and we headed towards Villingardalsfjall for a moderately difficult hike that was so worth it!
You can see from the map above how much ground we were covering. We were able to see much of the island with a car which can be very expensive, but is very worth it if you want to see the Faroe Islands extensively and be able to pull ove on a whim.
Even after walking for a short period of time, we could see how epic this was going to be from way up at the top. The ground was wet and there was quite a bit of mud but we were wearing the clothes for the job, so we didn’t mind.
this point we headed back down toward the car. We didn’t want to be late for our helo date.
At the bottom, we climbed into Patty Mayonnaise and backtracked to Klaksvik where we had a helo to catch! We arrived in time for lunch before our flight and so headed over to try some of the local foods.
From the helo pad road we inched up slightly overlooking the city. I’ve seen a few pictures of this town covered in snow, but I quite liked the greens and was glad for these views before the colder months.
Heli Helicopter!I guess now is as good a time as any for a shoutout for this dry bag. I am so glad that I brought this dry bag along with me on this trip. This is the Acrodo dry bag. They come in 10 & 20L and are different colors. The 10L will run you about $16. It became the perfect bag to store things in and carry around instead of my backpack in the event of a turn in the weather. It has a hold strap on the side and another strap you can sling over your shoulder.
Meanwhile, over on the helo pad, we read through the safety brief and got ready to load.
There was so much to see all at once, and my face was darting around as if it were on a swivel so I could capture it all. What a great way to spend the afternoon, especially because the trip cost less than $20.
Taking snaps from above as we headed toward the capital.
We got to see the peaks that we had already hiked and some of the other trails that we probably wouldn’t have time for. It felt like this whole place was one giant playgroundand it was so stunning. Can I say enough great things about the Faroe Islands?! haha.
I stared out the window of the helicopter mesmerized by the landscape, by how few people and lights there was to see. Just nature. As we took it all in we started to slowly descend into the capital of Tórshavn.
We came down onto the landing strip for an easy landing. No other planes in sight.
Within minutes we were out of the helicopter and on our way. You just walk off of the helo pad and you are on the main road within 5 minutes. What an interesting setup they have here on the Faroe Islands.
Picking up gear similar to the way we do cargo transfers on warships with helos.
The rest of the day was just quite a bit more to and from. Arielle stayed in Tórshavn because that’s where her hotel was while I caught the bus back to Klaksvik and then drove the car back to the hostel late that night. The next morning began another day of days…! Arielle was flying out but I woke early and met two other guys at the hostel that were looking to go on some crazy hikes and decided to join them. And so we set off for Drangarnir.
This hike was also not far from our hostel so I drove with Gabrielle, an Italian who lives in the Netherlands and works for booking.com. We also went with another American, Justin who was living in NY City and was recently planning on moving to San Francisco. As soon as we parked the cars we set off and just started hiking. In fact because there was no one else around and the trail was not as clearly marked as it could of been, we just climbed up the cliff side in front of us for no better alternative. We put in a hard days work out on the trail but when we crested where we did because we had climbed the cliffside ahead of us, it was just magnificent.
Justin brought a drone, and his footage of the islands was magnificent. These were some snaps from my camera after coming over the ledge of the mountain behind us, hiking down into the valley, and then up the ridge on the opposite side.
I came up on the ridge and sat down for a snack as Gabrielle finished his photos. He had brought a tripod with him for some increadible shots! I wish I had the patience, but even today I don’t know if I would have been able to stop moving for a minute I was so hyped up. As Justin was saying the Stoke factor was high.
Basically from this side of the ridge, we had come from that mountain directly across the way where the clouds are sitting. We had climbed that mountain from the opposite side to end up here. Then when we walked down toward Drangarnir we realized we easily could have hiked around but I’m glad we didn’t. those views and moments up on the mountain were some of the best I have come across in a very long while.
Seriously, one of the best days.. Justin Burr is a legend with his drone skills.
Check out some of the raw footage!
At this point, Justin decided to run ahead back to the car to try to hike to Sorvagsvatn/Leitisvatn lake while Gabrielle and I set a much slower pace and hiked around the ridgeline chatting along the way, just admiring the general splendor of all this day had offered us.
As the sun began to set, Gabrielle and I reached his car and decided to detour around the water and head toward Múlafossur Waterfall.
That evening back at the hostel we rehashed our trip and looked at all the different photos and moments we had captured. I told them both about the helicopter flight from Klaksvik and we decided ot buy helicopter tickets to Mykines to hike to a lighthouse which looked absolutely amazing from the photographs.
Unfortunately, the next morning, the winds were very strong and the helicopter was taking off for the Mykines in the morning but was unsure if it would return. I had a flight to Dublin the next evening and with little to no accomodations on Mykines island, we decided to pull the plug. It was a good thing too because they did in fact cancel the helicopter flight back.
So, Gabrielle and I decided to drive to Tórshavn and along the way, Gabrielle decided to give me my first lesson in driving a stick shift. I mean the fact that he would have the patience to teach me in his rental car was already too much to ask and that we had been strangers the morning before. I’m telling you, landscapes and hikes provide bonding experiences that words cannot.
We decided to drive back over to Klaksvik. Don’t be fulled by the sunshine, I was also battling highwinds in a manual car. At least we were back to driving on the left side of the road, unlike Ireland. Phew!
There are very few spots to choose from for lunch because of the time of year and so we stopped in at the same lunch spot Arielle and I had eaten at a few days before and that restaurant is very very good. It’s on the main road in Klaksvik easy to find. I had the smoked salmon salad and it was DE-LIC-IOUS.
Gabrielle went for the burger and then afterward we went to the capital for some last minute gift shopping and a couple of beers. It was an enjoyable day even after the disappointment of the cancellation to Mykines.
After packing all of our things and loading Gabrielles rental car we settled our debts with Kristian and headed to the airport. Before we left, I opened the best of the Irish whiskey I had bought and called out a Salute to the Faroe Islands. “Keep it real you soul feeding island, Never lose that swag.”
As you can see it was an increadibly uncomfortable overbooked flight to Copenhagen. Just playin 🙂 From here it was a 21 hour layover in Copenhagen and then on to Ireland to stay in a luxury hotel for a night for a proper shower and some room service, and then it was off to Iceland for 7 days gallavanting the ring road with my great friend Laura. Stay tuned, and don’t miss out on the adventure!
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.