The Faroe Islands
It was 4.30am when we disembarked in Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe group of islands. Naturally, there was NOTHING open, nowhere to get a coffee, nada, zip, zilch! This I discovered after doing a few laps of what I assumed to be the township area and surrounds.
Nature called eventually, so I had to find somewhere to go, as I had no idea what "Toilet" was in Faroese. Hmmmm, came upon a likely looking abutment all in darkness, so clambered around the hillside to the back, the seaward side, and relieved myself. On going back to the bike and wandering around, I discovered that the flat abutment was actually a Heliport. Thankfully, there was not a soul in sight at that time of the morning, although there were several houses within sight of my indiscretion.
It was a problem, what to do with myself until there were signs of life and I could locate somewhere to have a coffee. So I rode around, just looking at the stunning countryside in the breaking dawn light. Myriads of shaggy sheep everywhere, of all multi colour mixtures. Eventually, I came upon a paved lookout pulloff, so stopped and proceeded to make myself a cup of tea, as I couldn't wait any longer for the shops to open. Certainly got some funny looks from the surprisingly heavy early morning traffic, it now being about 6.30am.
But I amused myself looking at a flock of the colourful shaggy sheep which came trundling down the hillside over the road and passed through an underpass and surfaced quite near me. Some of them were unfazed at my presence, although others wouldn't come close at all, particularly the youngsters.
It was quite pleasant, standing there drinking my tea in the early light of day, looking out over the cool still water below my perch, chatting to the sheep as they passed mere metres away below me.
But I'd ridden over most of the roads on the two main islands of the group already, and it was barely daylight! Oh well, I'll just keep riding around and go over to some of the other islands via the tunnels which were quite frequently the means by which one moves from island to island. I did at one stage ride across a bridge over the Atlantic Ocean! Yes, the water under this bridge is officially the Atlantic Ocean.
Kept trundling around as life started stirring in many of the little townships I came across, like Gjogv. The only problem was, once I got there I had to turn around and go back, as the road finished there at the sea. Nothing was open, of course!
But it was beautiful scenery, soaring cliffs and steep slopes down to the water. Sometimes the road was decent, other times not so wide and it was difficult when another vehicle came towards me, as they seemed to want to hog most of the road, for some reason. Why do they think bikes don't matter, nor need much roadway?
But at least I was able to frequently stop on the roadway to take photos, as there wasn't much traffic once away from Torshavn.
At last, after many wrong turns and false starts, I arrived in Toftir and came across a supermarket cum cafe, so I thought - only to be told that the cafe part was now closed, leaving just the supermarket. No coffee there! But they directed me to another coffee shop a few km away in Runavik. I pulled up outside at 10.45am, but it looked closed. Then I looked closely at the door, which seemed to be slightly open, so pushed it open and walked in. A lady came rushing out from the kitchen to tell me that she wasn't open yet, not unitl 11.00am.
"But I only want a coffee", I said.
"Oh, yes, that's OK. You can have one, even though I'm not really open. Do you want anything else?"
"Well, do you happen to have wifi internet I could use?"
"Yes" she said, so out I went to get the laptop and logged in using her private internet connection!
I seem to remember the coffee was pretty awful, but at least I got to read my email in comfort.
Glorious scenery everywhere! I loved this sod-roofed church. So much to look at while trying to ride safely in a straight line.
I ended up back in Torshavn, for want of anywhere else to go and obtained a listing of all the hostels on the islands, as I needed somewhere to sleep, preferably camping, although I was feeling pretty crook with the flu thing by now. So I rode out to another island which is the jump-off point to the outer island where one can see the puffins. I pulled in to the hostel in Bour, pressed the bell repeatedly, but no-one came. Then a lass appeared out of an arriving taxi and said that I'd have to ring the owner on the phone inside. This I did, and he eventually arrived, all hot and bothered, from some other place and I got booked in for camping, as the hostel was pretty exxy.
During our introductory chat, I had mentioned that I was going to go out to see the puffins.
"Nope" he said. "They all left on 1st August". It was now about the 9th. Damn!
There may still have been the odd one or two around, but I didn't fancy an all-day trip (no options there) in forecast bad weather on the very slim off-chance I MIGHT see a puffin if I tramped all over the whole island. No cars out there, it's just for walkers.
Set up camp near the hostel, where I was able to use all the facilities, fortunately. Then I proceeded to sleep for the next couple of days! Well, most of the time I slept. Apart from when I was chasing away the huge seagull-type birds, one of which even sneaked under the edge of the tent vestibule and started attacking my food supplies. The damn thing! I'd gone down into the hostel the next afternoon for some reason and came back to see the gull come scrambling and flying out of the open tent door, which I'd forgotten to zip up, not that that would have stopped it anyway.
It was when I was packing up that I couldn't find the o-ring that seals the Trangia metho stove lid. Yep, the damn bird had taken it! Hope it choked on it! Sheesh!
Below: How about this for a view from my tent bed and vestibule?? Stunning!
Above: Fish farming near the hostel
So having spent almost the two full days I'd been in the Faroes confined to my tent bed feeling crook, it was time to pack up and make my way back to Torshavn to catch the ship back to Denmark. Unfortunately, it didn't get in until 12.30am, leaving at 1.30am after unloading all the freight and passenger cars bound for Torshavn and the other islands. With time on my hands, I decided to ride out to one of the furtherest islands' townships, Klaksvik, for a look around.
Found a cafe open in Klaksvik- not a common occurrence here in the Faroes. They don't seem to cater to the tourism industry very much, apparently. Ordered a snack then discovered they had wifi, so went back out to the bike to get the laptop, only to discover that I was missing another pannier lid. Damn! Well, it could wait, I really couldn't be bothered as I felt so crook, so I went back in and had my tea and snack.
Then I reluctantly faced the fact that I couldn't really travel without the lid, so had better go looking for it. I knew I'd had it back in Torshavn when I called in to a shopping centre as I'd rested something on it, so it had to be between the two towns, about 50kms or so of roadways. Wandered along covering all the little streets of Klaksvik, which I'd passed along while sightseeing earlier. No luck. Then back out onto the highway heading for Torshavn.
About 12 kms from Klaksvik, I approached a stock grid which made the bike jump quite a lot as I went over. But just as I was about to hit the grid, I saw a flash of silver off to my left. Yes, it was the pannier lid, upside down and undamaged, lying in the grass verge! Bewdy! Apparently the bounce over the rough grid had somehow unlatched it on the way out to Klaksvik and it had flown along and landed on the grass.
Safely latching the lid down again, I felt happier as I rode back to Torshavn as dusk was falling. I found a hotel with wifi quite close to the dock, and settled in for the long wait for the ship, having coffee in the lounge, checking my email. Then an approaching English voice started speaking to me. A English couple who had been eating in the restaurant over the road had seen me pull up and go into the hotel. Apparently they had been watching me as I sat next to the window, and mistook me wiping my eyes (due to the flu) as crying. They were concerned and wanted to make sure I was OK, so came across to speak with me. How nice of them! We chatted for a while, then I gave them my card. Then they kindly posted a message in my guestbook a couple of days later. It's good to meet people like them along the way, to chat in English.
After standing around with all the other bikers waiting to load, on the docks in the drizzling grey misty rain, as the local homecoming cars came off, we (the gathered bikers) eventually got aboard and I found my cabin, sharing with two other ladies, with me on the top bunk. I'm not as young as I used to be, unfortunately. It's harder to climb up to top bunks, now.
The next morning we disembarked again in Hantsholm, Denmark. I was back in Europe, but still feeling far less than 100% healthwise.
Now for the ride to Belgium, where Michiel, an Iron Butt friend living in Antwerp, had located a local Suzuki dealer who could fit the bike in for a check of the speedo. I headed for a hotel in Germany that I'd stayed in previously, as it was on the way. Late at night, the drowsy clerk, speaking only German, wasn't all that keen to let me in, until I told him I'd been there before. Funny how his English suddenly appeared as I flashed the credit card in his face! I ended up with the last room available, a suite, but I managed to get it for the same price as the room I'd had before. Win! And a lovely buffet brekky was included, too. Unfortunately, it was raining during brekky, so all the guests had to cluster indoors, rather than sit out on the patio, as I had done previously.
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