Monday, August 17, 2009

Voyage of the Vikings, Day 24 - Torshaven, Faroe Islands

Pronounced tor'-shan.

6:30am in the Crow's Nest, watching our approach to Torshaven. A quiet night last night, sea state-wise. Keith is having trouble with his left shoulder, and it kept him awake some. Probably bursitis. Old age is hell, but it sure beats the alternative by a country mile.

There is a group that shows up in the Crow's Nest for almost every arrival, and for many departures. After a couple of weeks of this, the management started putting out coffee for us.


The Early Risers Club


Another Early Riser


A Not So Early Riser

The harbor at Torshaven is very small. Keith is amazed that our captain would bring this large vessel in here. I would think he would be in a world of hurt if a good breeze picks up in time for sail away.


We Approach Torshaven in Partly Cloudy Weather

The captain announced last night that there would be three cruise ships in port today and that, as we are the largest, we were requested to enter last after 8am, because we are so big as to block the harbor entrance. In fact we entered first, at 7am. The Princess boat behind us chose to anchor just outside the breakwater. I don't know where the third boat is.

Our Approach to the Faroes


How Shall We Fit This Gigantic Cruise Boat

in This Tiny Little Harbor?


With Finesse, That’s How

In most ports, we must turn around to leave. I am surprised that our captain almost always chooses to flip the ship on departure. Were I doing it, I would do the flip on arrival, and dock on the other side, so as to be pointed in the right direction for departure. The would be especially helpful if the weather turns snotty, as it did in Glasgow. Could it be that, with azipoids in the stern, this vessel actually steers better going backward than going forward?

It challenged my capability just to handle a 28 footer, so I am really in no position to comment on the handling of this 700-odd foot behemoth. Other than to say that this captain seems to do a superb job. I was especially impressed by his departure from Glasgow. It is the mark of a true professional that he makes a difficult maneuver look easy. And he looks so young for such responsibility! He doesn't look a day over 35. We were later told that he is in his early 40’s.

We have a tour planned for today, but it doesn't leave until 10am, and it is mercifully short. Really just a drive around the island to view the scenery, then back to the boat for lunch. Judging by what I can see out the window, the scenery promises to be outstanding.


Torshaven, Photographed Later in the Day with Sunshine


Faeroese Cliff Homes in Torshaven

I see the tour busses lining up just next to the gangway. That is an improvement on many of the places we have toured, where the busses were a long walk from the boat. The Faeroese are new enough at this that, perhaps, they are still anxious to please. We hope they have free internet somewhere nearby.

10:30am, and we are packed in a tour bus. I see 3 empty seats. We were warned again that tourism is new to Torshaven, and to expect some rough edges. It will take a lot of rough edges to spoil such scenic beauty.

Good news - they drive on the right side of the road here, folks.

Our pert young tour guide tells us that the Faros comprise a group of 18 islands, 17 inhabited. Streymoy, where Torshavn is located, is the largest island. There are 70,000 sheep, and 48,000 people. Seems to be a theme in this part of the world. This is about the best tour guide we have has so far on this cruise. Keith complimented her and she seemed surprised, saying that this was her first experience as a guide. Keith thinks she simply hasn’t had enough time to become slick and jaded.


Our Pert Young Faeroese Tour Guide

There are many tunnels, and every village has a road connection. Ferry services serve Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland. Air service to London and further points.


Roads Tunnel Under the Faeroese Mountains


A Ferry Boat Docked at Kaldbaksbotnur

We are driving along the edge of a fjord-like inlet. Magnificently, breathtakingly beautiful. Stratified rock with a thin veneer of lite green grass, punctuated with beautifully magnificent waterfalls. Farms are few and far between.


A Beautiful Faroese Inlet


A Stony Land, With a Thin Veneer of Soil and Grass


Waterfalls Abound in this Stony Land


Rare Faeroese Farmsteads

The Faeroes are a Danish territory, but with their own flag, their own language, and an independent government. Written Faroese goes back only 150 years. It snows, but it doesn't stay around all that long. Another gift from the Gulf Stream. Sea water temperature is about 7C most of the year, a bit warmer in summer.


The Faroese Keep in Touch With the World

The countryside is very rugged. We have traversed two tunnels in the course of 30 minutes, and have passed a third tunnel that crosses under the sea to Eysturoy Island. The countryside is littered with boulders, typical of glacier country.

Across the water we see the island of Koltur, home to exactly one family.

A beautiful staircase falls is in view to the left, descending into another delightful little fishing village. We are stopping for a photo-op. Keith is also making this an ad-hoc comfort stop, across the road and down in the gully. Kathy is jealous.


Keith Smiles Smugly after Getting Comfortable


Gate to Nowhere


A Beautiful Waterside Village

Not a tree in site anywhere, nor a shrub, nor even a bush. Just short, stubby grass, and stone; but mostly emerald green grass.

We are turning on the mountain road to cross the island back to Torshaven. This was the only way across the island before the tunnels were bored. The elevations provide for some magnificent panoramic views.


Panoramic View


Panoramic View of Tourists

Photographing Panoramic Views

Back down the hill into Torshaven, with a photo-stop (note the clever contraction of photo-op stop) to snap the docked Maasdam (see above), then back to the boarding ramp. It's so nice to be in a backward place where they provide door-to-door service.

Lunch in the Lido. Today's specialty, in honor of Phillipine independence day was, of course Phillipino. Keith tried everything, but didn't like much of it. Sensible Kathy had beef stroganoff from the regular buffet.

Keith napped after lunch, while Kathy took the shuttle into town to send post cards. She sure puts a lot of effort into our grandchildren.

Kathy’s trip into Torshavn took a bit longer than planned. She took a wrong turn and walked more of the city than she planned. In her travels she learned that food is very expensive. A hotel offered a lunch buffet of 300 krona which is about $60. She finally arrived at the Tourist Info Center. It had everything she needed; postcards, postage and internet.

Mission accomplished.

Up to the Crow's Nest for sail away, then a late (for us) supper. Kathy has ambitions of a movie after supper. Keith will fall asleep listening to a good book.


We Sail Away From Torshaven, A Delightful Surprise

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