Strange Sights In The Faeroe Islands July 2005

My wife and mother-in-law were ecstatic when I mentioned an “island cruise” earlier this year. Visions of tropical islands, swaying palm trees and postcard sunsets flashed before their eyes. Well…here we are in the Færoe Islands at 62° degrees of lattitude in the North Atlantic. The “cruise ship” was the ferry Norröna, a working vessel that servies the Shetland and Færoe Islands, and Iceland from ports in Denmark and Norway.

The sun barely sets at all as far as palm trees…my Icelandic friend Andres Helgasson had these few words of advice, “If you get lost in a forest, just stand up!” Viking traditions are still strong here in the Færoes. The harbors are full of clinker-built, iron-riveted Viking ships in all sizes. Most surprising to me however, was the fact that home construction techniques have not changed too much since the first settlement of these island over 1000 years ago. Most houses still have thick roofs surfaced with turf. In the midwest where I grew up, wives were constantly struggling with husbands to get off the couch and mow the blasted lawn. Out here Viking women face the even more formidable task of getting old Ole off his hind-end to get up there and mow the roof! But Viking women are tough!

Richard Keldsen
Tórshavn, the Færoe Islands
July 2005