Day 9 – Tórshavn in Faroe Islands

We were supposed to spend the early morning looking for marine mammals, but we awoke to dense fog so that was canceled and we moved on to dock in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. Tórshavn was also fogged in, so we settled down hoping for the fog to lift.

We are now in the Kingdom of Denmark. The Faroe Islands is an autonomous, self-governing region of 18 islands halfway between Norway and Iceland, with its own government and money. 70,000 Sheep and 48,000 people occupy the islands, 17,000 people in the capital. The climate here, as in Shetland, is fairly mild, but it rains two days out of three. It appears to be a prosperous place, with fishing and fish farming leading the economy. They have lots of cows supplying almost all their dairy needs, but many other foods are imported.

Around 800 AD the Vikings came through on their trek from Norway to Shetland to Faroe to Iceland, (with side trips to the British Isles to gather booty in the churches and monasteries), and they settled the islands.

After lunch we headed off in a bus to take a long hike through the mountains. We were told we wouldn’t be in the fog, but were leery of the prediction. We stopped at a scenic overlook, but all we could see was fog. Over a hill and around a dale and the sun broke out! We got out of the bus and began a 600 ft ascent to start the hike. The hike was great and the scenery was superb and the weather was perfect. After a couple of hours we descended into a little town at the end of a fjord.

Back on the bus, through a tunnel, and back into the fog of Tórshavn. Before dinner we had a local biologist speak on the local tradition of hunting pilot whales that are common in the waters around the islands. For hundreds of years the locals have gathered to harvest the whales by driving them into shallow inlets with their boats and killing them with a quick knife cut around the head. The meat and blubber is divided among all who participate, and they smoke it or dry it as a delicacy. The good news is pilot whales are not a threatened species, so they are not impacting the overall population.

Late at night we slipped out of the harbor to tour another island in the morning.


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