Me neither. That is until this past February when I was shooting pictures in Iceland with a few photographers and 100’s, or rather 1000’s, of tourists. An Icelandic guide mentioned that the Faroes were “stunning.” I can’t remember if he said “sometimes” stunning or “occasionally” stunning. Stunning they are, but their beauty is only reveled briefly, inconsistently and in small portions, because only when the rather persist fog lifts can you take in the grand views. Each of the islands is small, meaning there is always an ocean view. The islands are volcanic, and straight up and down – no beaches, just cliffs. There are no trees (except in the capitol, Torshavn), so views are unobstructed. There are approximately 20 tunnels spread over the 18 islands, with more coming. They are one-laners and unlit (reflectors only). In one direction there are pull-outs to use when a car is approaching, but really there is little traffic. The tunnels run through the volcanic mountains that rise between two small villages (in the old days the only route was a hike over the top).
Culturally interesting: Norse history. The men remain fishermen and/or sheep farmers, and may supplement incomes by working intermittently on Norwegian oilrigs or taking some work in Denmark. The women stay home and “run the show” – raising kids, serving as Ms Fixit, knitting sweaters (they join a knitting club with friends at a young age and remain lifetime members). Actually the islands are short 2000 women, because many go off to Denmark for college, marry and don’t come back. The Faroe’s response: opening two universities to try to keep them local. But the 21st century of travel and the Internet probably is taking its toll. Torn between limited and unlimited horizons, what will the near future bring? Likely a falling population.
The towns sprinkled throughout the islands are very small. There are few (almost none) restaurants outside of Torshavn. Never saw a movie theater. Each town has a church (Lutheran) almost universally attended. Each town has a centrally located public bathroom (WC) that makes getting around by car quite easy. Towns have been “shamed” in the local newspaper if they appear at all run down or dirty – and it worked! All for tourism. Kids grow up very self sufficient, starting at a young age. The islands are very safe. Everyone plays a musical instrument. I am sure the people are friendly with their neighbors, but each is very self-sufficient, not asking nor receiving much manual or emotional help. Lots of sod roofs; lots of puffins.
They do love to eat whale (some legal taking of pilot whales only for personal consumption). More interesting is their love of fermented rotten meat, generally lamb. Can’t find either in restaurants, thus no restaurants.
I went to the Faroes because I was in the area (Norway) and did not want to return to Iceland. Since most people speak English, it is not that hard to have Faroese encounters resulting in good discussions. Here is a link to one such native who I now call the Faroese “King” of photography. Plan ahead and set up some days with him. You will be rewarded.
Ólavur Frederiksen https://www.facebook.com/faroephoto/photos_stream?tab=photos_albums
Here is the link to a few of my pictures taken during un-foggy interludes. Yes, I recommend going; stay at least a week.
For Pictures, click here.