Island Friends

They are an archipelago of islands often ignored by maps all over the world. Lying just 300km north-west of Scotland, it is surprising to realize how few people are even aware of the existence of this unspoiled, untouched and largely unexplored country. When given the opportunity to decide on a topic for my dissertation at University, I jumped at the chance to study in depth, a nation that had grasped my attention for the previous 2 years since passing it on my way to Iceland in 2010. The Faroe Islands are what I consider completely unique; the nature, culture, people and ‘community feel’ I experienced whilst staying in the country made me realize just how special the country is.

Prior to my trip in July 2012, I made contact with a Professor at the University in Torshavn, the Faroese capital. When I arrived I was greeted by Professor Knud at the modest-looking, grass roofed, and solitary building university campus. During my stay, Knud offered his time and support to help me out with my research which was on the development of renewable energy in small island communities. He even took me round in his car to ‘key’ points of interest in the Faroes such as wind farms and waste plants as well as taking me for lunch one day at the Nordic House. Whilst spending time at the University I also made friends with a young lady called Susan. After spending an afternoon with Susan in the city centre, she kindly invited me to join her boyfriend and her extended family to a home meal the following evening. So the next day she picked me up and took me on an amazingly scenic route to her hometown of Klaksvik, second largest city in the Faroes. I spent the entire afternoon with Susan and her family and I wasn’t allowed to leave until I had eaten 2 helpings of ice cream!

Later in the week, after doing some more research, I took a day off to meet up with some friends I had met online prior to my visit to the Faroes. Birna and her friends picked me up from hostel where I was staying, a quaint little house just in the centre of Torshavn (Yes, everything seemed to be in the ‘centre’ of Torshavn!). We spent the day taking just a road trip around Streymoy (1 of the 18 islands and where Torshavn is located) and ventured as far north as the small town of Gjov, a beautifully scenic city with famous sea stacks associated with old myths and legends. The weather was fantastic, apparently the best weather the Faroes had experienced in years; I felt like a lucky charm.

In the evening I visited Hotel Torshavn which had a ground floor bar/café area, where I purchased a coffee and sat down to relax. Yet again, I was astonished by the easy-going locals; I was joined by some young people who must have realized I was ‘new in town’ as everyone seemed to know each other in the city. The overriding feeling I felt in the Faroes was that people just enjoyed life. There was a constant ‘buzz’ about the place; people talking, laughing, drinking and generally just enjoying each other’s company.

After 7 days in the Faroes it was time to leave and head back to London. I felt somewhat sad that I was leaving, but grateful I had been given the opportunity to be one of the few people to explore the country. I made friends for life in this tiny island nation and I will certainly be going back to visit them in the future. I highly recommend others to make a visit; you haven’t seen anything until you have visited the Faroe Islands!

J McGovern

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