Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Faroe Islands!


Lake Sørvágsvatn, Faroe Islands.  (Photo posted on reddit by u/Sakemeister)

Our grand odyssey through the Faroe Islands and Scotland begins in the Faroe Islands which is a North Atlantic archipelago located 320 kilometers (200 miles) north-northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland. Between 1035 and 1814, the Faroes were part of the Hereditary Kingdom of Norway. In 1814, the Treaty of Kiel granted Denmark control over the islands, along with two other Norwegian island possessions: Greenland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948.

We arrive into Edinburgh from New York City and will spend the night in the small city of Queensferry.  The next day, we will catch a flight to the Faroe Islands for a week long visit. You can fly non-stop to the Faroe Islands from a variety of destinations, including Copenhagen, Reykjavik, Edinburgh, and Bergen. There are also seasonal flights from places like Barcelona, the Gran Canary Islands, Mallorca, Crete and Malta.  You can also travel to the islands by ferry from Iceland and Denmark.  Since our flight from the US will land us in Edinburgh, it was perfect opportunity to take a detour and spend time in the Faroe Islands. I have always wanted to go to the Faroe Islands; epic images of the unspoilt landscape have long captivated me.  I am still pinching myself that I will actually be there soon!

Kvikvik, Faroe Islands

(Image by Samiksha Jaiswal, Editor, Alchetron.  Licensed under CC by SA 3.0)
The people who manage the tourism industry in the Faroe Islands are very smart.  They have basically set it up so that flights arrive and depart either three days or week from each other.  To me, it makes no sense to go all the way to these remote islands and only stay three days so at a minimum, it's a week.  At least that's the case with the roundtrip flights from Edinburgh on Atlantic Airways.  Unless you are really an outdoorsy person who loves to hike, I think a week is more than enough to cover the islands.  We are renting a car and staying in an Airbnb apartment in the capital city of Tórshavn which will be our base for our entire stay - we'll just be doing day trips.  I had considered just signing us up for a week long tour but that turned out to be far more expensive than renting a car and staying in an apartment so we're doing the cheaper option.  I am expecting our one week stay in the Faroe Islands will be very expensive so any way that we can save some money will be good.  Pat has already told me that there is no budget for this trip and I am grateful for that as I know we will be breaking the piggy bank big time!

Puffin
(Photo by Richard Bartz. Licensed under CC by SA 3.0)
Originally, I had us visiting the Faroe Islands after our time in Scotland but I actually moved it to the start of our trip because of the puffins. These adorable seabirds return to land starting around mid April and hang around through August so in order to catch sight of the birds, I readjusted our itinerary.  Yep, I will reschedule a trip just to make sure we catch an event!  In the Faroe Islands, THE place to see the birds is the island of Mykines and the only way you are allowed on the island is with a guide so I actually reached out to one, late last year and booked him for the day.  His name is Heini Heinesen and you can get his contact information from his website - visitmykines.com.

A bite of something with bugs (?) at Koks.
(Photo by City Foodsters.  Licensed under CC BY 2.0)
In doing research on the Faroe Islands, I also stumbled across an article in the New Yorker magazine describing a unique food experience at a one Michelin star restaurant in the Faroe Islands.  The place is named Koks and apparently, it has become quite the foodie destination though I think the food could be a challenges to taste and swallow and this comment is coming from me...a person that relishes eating bugs! But before I even got to the end of the article, I knew I had to have a meal there - purely for the experience of having "high end" Faroese cuisin.  I showed Pat the article in hopes that she would agree to a meal and she did!  Yay!  I had to wait a couple of months before I could make a reservation but bright and early at 6am on January 2, 2019, I made the booking for two at a shared table. We will do the tasting menu.  I am really looking forward to this dining experience!  Separately, I've also made reservations for dinner at a place called Barbara Fishhouse in Tórshavn.  It's suppose to be really good!

I watched quite a few YouTube videos as well as researched a few websites to come up with our daily itinerary for our week in the Faroe Islands.  My plan is to also go to the Visitors Center in Tórshavn to vet my itinerary and to get more information - I am expecting there will be some changes.  I put everything onto a Google Map, each day is color coded, which will also serve as my navigation map when I drive around.