As I reached out to friends and colleagues, I quickly learned that not many people have heard of the Faroe Islands, and even less had any idea of where they were located. t’s a tiny archipelago located southeast of Iceland and north of Scotland, west of Norway. It’s technically under government rule of Denmark, yet the Faroe Islands has its own government, school system, and even flag. Yet Denmark currently supports the Faroe Islands with military and police.
The economy of the Faroe Islands is driven by fishing. “Norwegian salmon is no good,” a local tells me. “Faroe Islands salmon is the best in the world.” There’s no question that the locals in Faroe Islands, despite there relative anonymity on the world stage, have a passion and nationalistic pride for their small island nation. Like Iceland, it was the vikings that ultimately settled in the Faroe Islands. Torshavn is a small town and the government is housed in traditional centuries old buildings with turf growing on the roof—serving as insulation and protection from the elements.
Someone in Iceland joked that “there are only 7 sunny days a year in the Faroe Islands,” suggesting maybe I didn’t think through my choice to explore the tiny archipelago nation. Sure, I was soaked and bitten by cold through many days in Iceland, but I had a network of tunnels that connect the islands together to look forward to, at least inside the tunnels I’d find reprieve from the rain.
True to form, my arrival in Tórshavn in early AM was met with misty rain. Our hotel in the downtown area looks over the harbor and, even in this small town, centrally located.
Waking up to more rain, I’m less motivated to hop on my bike and more eager to walk around. There is a music festival happening this weekend, the G! Fest, so we’re trying to figure out whether we want to ride or take a bus to the festival that’s happening on a beach in one of the other islands. Considering it’s usually apropos to have a beer or three during a music festival, the idea of riding with a belly of beer ih the rain is less intriguing.
We do find a quiet restaurant, “11” that is connected to a night club. After a delicious meal of reindeer for me and locally raised lamb for Johnny A, we retire to the club for a glass of pilsner and a set of cover songs by a singer accompanied by a local guitarist.
The sappy songs we can only take so much, so we move across the street to another pub where a local and legendary Faroe Islands folk singer, Holger Jacobsen, is performing live to increasingly inebriated locals. Holger seems unfazed by most of the crowd that treats the local legend as mere background music. Though when he charges into a local song where everyone knows the lyrics, the entire bar sings along with him.
As the clock ticks on and chimes 3AM, Johnny A and I are still with beers in hand. As in Iceland, this is no problem. No bouncer forces us to down the beers and march out. Instead, they pour our beers into plastic cups and usher us onto the street.
Welcome to the Faroe Islands. Here, at least, at 3AM the skies are clear—no rain—and it’s not dark, yet!