Fabulous Faroes

I got up this morning about 8.20am feeling, as expected, a little worse for wear.  Walking to the bathroom the fourth toe on my left foot was painful; on closer examination it was swollen, bent over to the left a bit, and slightly discoloured – obviously broken.  But there’s nothing you can do with a broken toe apart from tape it to an adjacent toe to stabilise it, so I just had to put up with the pain.  It did make walking difficult though.

At 9.00am Trevor went along to the spa for his Thai massage while I had a cup of coffee in the cabin and got showered and dressed.  Then we went along to the Iceni Lounge where I had another coffee and enjoyed an apple Danish, as I hadn’t had any breakfast.

Our excursion wasn’t until this afternoon so we were able to pass the time at our leisure just pottering around on the ship until lunchtime.  We went to the Tintagel restaurant where we were pleased to see that they had lifted the “no self-service” ban and so the queues this time were minimal and we were able to enjoy a light lunch before making our way to the Neptune Lounge to await our call to board our tour bus at 1.00pm.

As we had been to the Faroes before, in 2006, we decided to give the capital, Tórshavn, a miss this time, and go further afield to one of the other islands.  There are 18 islands which make up the archipelago that is the Faroes (sometimes spelled Faeroes) and today we were going to visit Vágar, the most westerly of the inhabited islands.

We disembarked the Boudicca and walked the short distance to bus #6.  Our guide was called Arnold and he would be looking after us during this four-hour trip.  Off we went, through the light early afternoon traffic of Tórshavn and, as the commercial buildings and the traffic thinned out, we travelled through more rural countryside, with fields of sheep, hills and mountains and the ubiquitous waterfalls, reminding us of our cruise in the Norwegian fjords in June this year.  We saw many more sheep than people, and any dwellings we did see consisted of colourful wooden buildings, some of them with turf on the roof.

We came to a tunnel cut into the mountain, and travelled through it in the pitch darkness for some time.  There was room for vehicles to pass on the other side, but only just.  Then it was back into the  sunshine and the daylight and the lovely green scenery.  We were lucky that it was a beautiful day, and Arnold told us that it often rained in the Faroes due to their latitude of more than 62º north, but the temperatures were moderate because the islands are situated at the edge of the Gulf stream.

The next tunnel, the Vágatunnilin, was a long one, about five kilometres, and would take us under the sea from Streymoy Island to Vágar.  We seemed to be in the tunnel a long time, and the darkness made me sleepy.  Eventually we saw the light at the end, and emerged once again into the sunshine at the end.  All we could see were grassy hills with boulders and lots of sheep, not just white ones but some jet black sheep and even some with brown fleece.  The sheep were very sure-footed, picking their way around the steep rocky hillsides while they cropped contentedly at the grass.  We also saw some horses and ponies; some of the horses were lying down, basking in the sun.

After the bus wended its way up the hairpin bends of the hillside, we came to a stop at a tiny little village called Bøur, which contained a few turf-roofed wooden houses, a hut with a very clean public WC, and a gravelled path along to the village proper, with its shop.  I tried walking along the uneven gravelly path but it was far too painful for my flip-flop clad broken toe, so I just sat on a nearby wooden bench in the sunshine, enjoying the views of the mountains and the valley below.  When Trevor came back he said the village ‘shop’ was really just the front room of someone’s house, which sold souvenirs and postcards and such like.

Back in the bus we continued on our way until we came to another charming little village, Sandavágur, with its distinctive wooden red-roofed church, set in front of colourful little houses perched on the hillsides.

We alighted from the bus and made our way into the church, which had the faint, evocative smell of incense and had lovely paintings telling Bible stories adorning the walls.  One frieze behind the alter showed Jesus carrying his cross up the hill, being nailed to it, then crucified, then the final pictured showed the Virgin Mary cradling the body of her son.  The church also had a large chandelier and a hanging lamp in the shape of a wooden sailing ship.

Our guide Arnold and the guide from the other bus decided to sing us a hymn.  It was all in Faroese so we couldn’t understand it, but we recognised the tune as “Nearer My God To Thee”.

Afterwards we got back on the bus for a leisurely return journey, stopping several times for photo opportunities.  The scenery really was spectacular; from our elevated position we saw Sørvágsvatn, the largest lake in the Faroe Islands.  What a lovely place it was; it makes me want to come back and explore more, and actually spend a few days here.  I bet it’s amazing in the winter.

On our return journey we went once again through the undersea road tunnel, which is fairly new, only being built in 2002 .  We marvelled at the mountains and waterfalls and came once again to another tunnel cut through a mountain.  This tunnel was fairly narrow and, while there might have been room for two cars to pass, there certainly wasn’t room for anything wider.  So it was with surprise when we were about 100 metres from the end of the tunnel that we saw the headlights of a car coming towards us.  The car driver must have seen the coach headlights before entering the tunnel, so we wondered what on earth he was thinking of, trying to drive through.

The two vehicles approached each other and slowly came to a halt.  A few minutes went by during an apparent stand-off, then the car driver reluctantly put his vehicle into reverse and made his way, somewhat erratically, back to the entrance of the tunnel.  We were on our way once more.  🙂

We arrived back at the Boudicca about five o’clock, just nice time to be able to get washed, changed and ready for our dinner.  In the restaurant there was only Trevor and me and Willie and Lynn; no sign of the other couple.  As ever, we enjoyed a delicious meal and ate far too much, but I was extremely restrained and only had one glass of wine (my first today) and one Amaretto after the meal.  I still had to try and detox after yesterday’s overindulgence.  😦

Regular readers of this blog will know our evening routine by now; off to the Neptune Lounge after dinner to bag our seat near the front and watch the ballroom dancers (we really will have to make the effort to learn) before the show.  Then the lights went down and yes!  Tonight the orchestra played the intro to the tune that we will forever associate with Fred Olsen cruises, In The Stone by EWF.  🙂

The cabaret today was a female opera singer called Helen Wilding, but it was an opera/pop crossover and she was absolutely excellent.  Not only a lovely singer, but with a quirky personality and a different offering from your usual soprano singers.  We really enjoyed her show and we commented we’d never seen a duff show yet.  Great stuff.

We followed the show with the quiz as usual – nope, we didn’t win.  So far our first win has eluded us.  We will have to form a team and see if we can do any better.  🙂

Tonight we decided to do something a little bit different so we went up to the Observatory, where we hadn’t been before.  It was nice and peaceful up there, dimly lit and relaxing.  From our table at the window we could see the bow of the Boudicca as she glided through the North Atlantic ocean.  We watched the horizon rising and falling and the gentle up and down motion was slightly soporific.  I put my feet (complete with broken toe) up on a nearby chair and just relaxed with an alcohol-free (!!!) glass of wine.  🙂

Afterwards we decided just to go back to 4125.  It was 11.00pm which is early for us, but an early night wasn’t going to hurt.  I read my magazine for a short while before settling down to sleep, lulled by the Boudicca‘s motion.  We had another full day at sea to look forward to tomorrow.

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