Braided Streams

Reflections | Travels | Interests

The Faroe Islands

It was cloudy when Lyndsay and I landed in the Faroe Islands, and from the plane window, we never saw the runway; the transition from clouds to land seemed immediate, with views of cliffs falling to the sea. Once we picked up our rental car, we drove through the fog, then through a one-way tunnel, where lights on the rock ceiling tricked me into thinking cars were coming at us. When we came out on the other side, we were met by the sheep-flecked village of Gásadalur, where the Mulafossur waterfall plummets to the sea. Puffins and seagulls flocked to the cliff walls and eider ducks bobbed on the surface of the sea; sheep baaed and grazed in the distance and fog shrouded the mountains. Rain drizzled down and the wind blew the waterfall sideways, making rainbows. It was cold.

In the morning, we hiked to Bøsdalafossur, the waterfall that flows from the lake above the sea. We left straight from our apartment, turned by the church, then entered a field and walked with the sheep as views of the town appeared below us. It was foggy, but that only seemed to make the colors of the field more vibrant as the trail curved around the lake. The lake led to the waterfall, which crashed over cliffs into the sea. We lost the path at one point (in reality, there wasn’t a path) so we just continued to the sea, across the muddy hills and over boulder fields. We found the waterfall, but couldn’t figure out where the famous optical illusion shot was taken from. We started walking back along the shore of the lake, then saw other people on a ridge that had been hidden by fog before. We walked straight uphill until we got to the top of the ridge, and there it was—the view of the curved lake resting atop cliffs that dropped to the sea. Close to the edge, it was amazing and frightening and beautiful. We walked back along the shore of the lake, through the sheep fields, and back to our apartment, where we got in our car and headed down the road to Sørvágsfjørður, where the troll woman’s finger juts out from the sea.

The next day, we drove through the undersea tunnel to Streymoy, the largest island, then continued along the west coast to Vestmanna, where we took a crazy boat tour to Vestmannabjørgini, the bird cliffs. The Atlantic was raving, the birds were flying up and down the cliffs, the sheep were grazing on treacherous inclines. Sometimes, the boat captain told us, the sheep walk down the cliff to eat seaweed and fall into the sea. The boat navigated narrow passageways between cliffs, rocking back and forth, giving us spectacular views of waterfalls as the birds flew through the spray.

We continued north along Streymoy’s east coast to Tjørnuvík, a scenic drive with views of Eysturoy to the east that ended with waterfalls and a black sand beach. We drove south again, then inland to Saksun: sheep, grass roofs, an old church, a big waterfall, very few homes. And from there, the drive to Tórshavn, the capital city. We walked around the fort and old town and sweater shops and drank locally brewed beer.

On Eysturoy the next day, we climbed Slættaratindur, the highest peak in the Faroes. It was finally a sunny day. The one-mile walk wasn’t long, but it was steep, nearly straight up the grassy side of the mountain. The steepness made me dizzy. Eventually, the trail started switchbacking, and we continued on, eventually making it to the top, where we had views of several islands in the distance. The sea blew warm salty air toward us and the sun felt warm once we were low enough to be out of the wind.

Gjógv, a cute gorge town by the sea on the northern tip of the island, was our last stop for the day. We wandered around in the sun along the sea coast, enjoying the waves and the gurgling stream.  

The rest of our stay involved driving around the northern islands, then working our way back to Vágar, where we started. We had lucked out with sunny weather; it poured on our last day. We escaped the weather in sweater shops and cafés, staying cozy.