Island hopping

Day 16. Wednesday 29 May.

Today’s plan tackled the north-eastern islands, Vidoy, Bordoy, and Kunoy, accessing them via Eysturoy – the one we’ll ‘do’ tomorrow. They are linked by either tunnels or bridges, and there are tunnels through mountains. The double lane tunnels were fine but the single lane ones were a different story, as we found out later in the trip…in one direction, the driver must give way, and pull-over bays are spaced at roughly 150-200 metres (they weren’t as closely spaced as D would have liked!) At one stage on our return journey, with an oncoming school bus we had to back up to the previous bay, D having misjudged the distance of the oncoming bus, with a couple of anxious drivers waiting in the bay behind who were not amused at our misjudgement, and an intent bus driver in front staring us down as he kept coming. There was no grace. And of course the automatic alarm in our car would signal ‘too close to the rock wall beep, beep beep!’. And it was very dark! ‘The light at the end of the tunnel’ is a very apt and comforting expression. But there was no aggro, horns or gestures – that we were aware of, anyway.

The day was icy cold mostly (3-6 degrees without the wind chill factor), plenty of rain/sleat and wind, so we scuttled between showers and waited for the worst to pass. It usually did after we’d given up waiting.

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At Klaksvik we recognized the coffee shop when we saw the prams lined up outside.

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Peering in (the prams) we decided that the mums were not having free time. However, it turned out that most were! We sat by the café window, admiring the view of the church and T commented on the bouncing movement within the prams…D said, ‘It’s the wind’…nope, at different intervals, a mum would exit the café and lift a baby out! ‘Toughening them up’ said D.  That seemed to be a theme: we later saw a group of half a dozen very young kids shepherded by two adults, walking along in sheeting rain, all rugged up in their wet weather gear. And later Do noticed what appeared to be a child care centre with a bunch of kids happily playing outside in the sleet and rain, and as we write this we can see local kids on the soccer field kicking a ball about, oblivious to the weather.

There was some modern building and some modern sculpture in Klaksvik – and some more traditional activity.

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The young woman who served us was a ‘foreigner’ – we apparently stand out as different – she was Danish. Her mother was Faroese, so she’d come over to lean the language and to understand her origins. She remarked that the language wasn’t difficult – it was the culture that was most challenging. She didn’t say why.

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We don’t go out of our way to track down and visit churches ands/or cathedrals – they are just there! The impressive church at Klaksvik had a room downstairs with a collection of Biblical scenes from Jesus’ life, all carved in wood, jigsaw-style, by a local artist..

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Each scene contained a couple of elements that were not of the main wood, for example, metal or driftwood, a key, a ram horn…We had a lovely conversation with a local church attendant about the ‘dying church culture’. She reported that although around 150 people attend on Sundays, the age group is 40+ and it’s difficult to attract the young. Like all the churches we’ve seen, crosses do not appear to be emphasized, and seem to be mostly absent inside.

The road took us to Muli (a hamlet of 5 houses – we’re not sure if they’re occupied, are holiday houses (why?!!) or just abandoned) which is described as the last settlement on the Faroes to have been connected with electricity and a road.

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The status of ‘road’ is arguable – a sometimes bitumen, sometimes gravel, pot-holed, narrow, steep, windy goat track might be more accurate.

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And the last settlement that we saw today, opposite Muli,  was at the top of Vidoy Island, where the North Atlantic pounds the cliffs, and a little white church stands bravely. Fields and stonewalls rise up the slope…The wind and rain were fierce at this end of the world. We can only assume, by their absence here that it too tough even for the hardy sheep.

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The return journey brought us back to a fairly sunny Torshavn, interspersed with a shower to remind us of where we were; we ventured out of the car, stretched the legs for a stroll around the harbor, taking snaps of the early merchant settlement and the fort, which had been the HQ of the British forces during WW II. Not sure if this was a sinecure or a hardship!

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