There is no truth to the rumor that they use real
Puffins to make Puffins Cereal! But Puffin Soup is a delicacy on the
Puffins are found on the northern most part of the
country with the largest concentration on Mykines Island (pronounced
The people are small town friendly, but first
impressions can be deceiving. If you're walking down the street, even
in a small village, a stranger may not say hello or make eye
I always say "howdy" to people and they would quickly
glance up, say "hello" and quickly glance back down again.
That perplexed me and so then I tried an experiment: after saying
"howdy" and getting a "hello" back, I'd ask
"how are you?"
What a transformation would then take place! The people
would make eye contact, their face would brighten and suddenly we
True story: one day I was out shooting in a remote area.
I drove to the end of a road and was walking out further when I saw
two people walking towards me. As we got closer, I said "howdy!"
and one if the people responded "Cole?"
I visited during their summer and I don't think the
temperature ever broke 55 degrees. I loved those cool temps, but they
acted as though a heat wave was upon them! They were in the ocean
swimming and everywhere I'd go, I'd see people sunning themselves.
I'm from Colorado where we have about 300 sunny days a
year. I'm told they have about 300 overcast days a year. I expected
their winters to be brutally cold and snowed, but I'm told that
they're actually quite moderate being surrounded by water.
I have never seen a country with such nice and clean
water closets! No matter where you went, even in the smallest village,
you'd find a public restroom that was immaculately kept.
Another thing the Faroese were fanatic about is keeping
their houses painted. Almost every house looked as though it had a
fresh coat of paint. And guess what one of their favorite color
schemes is? A black house with white trim.
Many of the houses had a sod roof. Even in the middle of
the city they were quite common. I even saw a man cutting the grass
on his roof with a weed wacker! In one
small village I saw a sod roof with weeds on it and wondered if his
HOA sent him a nasty letter?
Roads and Tunnels
The Faroe Islands have great roads and tunnels. The
tunnels might go through a mountain or deep under the sea. They're
building a new tunnel right now that will connect two islands and
save over a hour
of drive time.
It is very odd to go into a tunnel that is several miles
long, to go downhill until you reach the bottom, and to know that you
are several hundred feet below the ocean floor.
Another thing you see everywhere is roundabouts. I was
told that they only have two traffic signals on the islands, both in
Torshavn. The new tunnel they are building will have a roundabout
beneath the ocean floor.
The new tunnels are very wide and can easily fit two
vehicles with room to pull out. But the older tunnels, like the one
above, are very narrow and not very tall. They can fit only one car
at a time and so about every 100 yards there are turnouts and whoever
gets to the turnout first, must pull out.
Cost of Living
As a tourist, I found prices to be very high, but not
nearly as high as Iceland. Gas, food and lodging were all
expensive...and made even more expensive by high taxes.
Their paper money is the Danish Krone or the Faroese
Krona, but they use Danish coins.
What would you think if you were to see a car running
while the owner went into the grocery store to shop? Or you went to a
restaurant and saw baby buggies lined up outside, with babies in
them? The Faroese do that because it is so safe there.
I was driving through a village when I saw a 4 year old
walking down the street by himself, I panicked and yelled "where
are his parents?" And then I remembered, I was in the Faroe
My landlord for the month was a police supervisor in a
neighboring village. He said there is
virtually no crime on the islands.
And there is no threat from dangerous or wild animals.
No snakes, no rabies, no mountain lions, no bears, nothing but very
large rabbits and sheep
The most dangerous thing in the Faroe Islands are the
cliffs They are massively high and
every year some poor tourist goes over. The image above is of my
daughter-in-law Erica on the left and my son Cody with their daughter
Margot in his backpack.
There are sheep everywhere. Literally everywhere. On the
roads and on the side of the roads. And if you hit one, you must
compensate the owner.
I've never been around sheep much, but they grew on me.
They would let you get pretty close to them but would never look up,
but I did notice that they always kept one eye on me.
The Faroese whale. I did not know this until Kristian my
landlord told me to go down to the harbor to witness it. I found it
However I try very hard not to judge other people's
customs by my standards and traditions.
But I still found it disturbing.
I'm an animal lover and dogs are my favorite. But I
found the dogs of the Faroe Islands to be unfriendly. They were not
mean, but they were not friendly. I'd approach a dog and talk to them
but I wouldn't get a look, a wag or any response. I wondered how
these dogs were raised that they were so indifferent to people.
I did meet one very nice dog in a tiny village. He
wanted me to throw rocks, which he would dutifully retrieve and then
wait for me to throw it again.
Churches and Graveyards
At the center of every village is a cute little church.
Their graveyards are very old, I found several headstones dating back
to the 1500's.
I always worry about eating in foreign countries because
my stomach has a very narrow tolerance for non-familiar foods. It
turns out that the Faroe Islands did have some unusual foods (Puffin
soup, whale blubber, things with eggs on them, fish balls...) but
that wasn't the real challenge.
The real challenge was finding a place to eat. For the
most part, restaurants exist only in a few cities/towns. And because
I was out shooting so late, they were closed by the time I returned
So what did I do? I ate at gas stations a lot. It's not
quite as bad as it sounds, over there a gas station is a mini-grocery
mart and you can find basic foods there including fruit and
vegetables. They also have a wide assortment of hot dogs.
Their hot dogs are a bit odd. Imagine a bun that looks
like a round roll with a hole drilled in it. They ask you what sauces
you want (there are about 10) and then they squirt them into the hole
and insert a hot dog that is twice as long as the bun!
There was this one pizza place that was in the middle of
nowhere and open late, I ate there a lot. There was also a Chinese
restaurant that was pretty good in Torshavn.
But the real culinary treat was eating at the only
American fast food restaurant on the island: Burger King! It was
familiar and I could get ice in my drink. Like many European
countries, ice is not the norm and if you ask for "extra
ice" you might get four ice cubes.
Other odd things about the food there: they love salt
and advertise it: Lay's Salted. They are also crazy about black liquorice and even salted liquorice.
It was interesting to see that things were not
supersized there: candy bars, chips, soda were all smallish in size,
like we used to have in the 60's.
One of my favorite foods was their danish,
it's unlike anything I've had here in the US. It is very light and
delicious! And this danish can be purchased
at a gas station.
Because there are so many sheep there, there is also a lot
of wool. They are very proud of their soft wool and you can find
almost anything made of wool. It looks like that kid on the right
needs some wool underwear...
They have amazing horses, similar to those found in
Iceland. I call them Beatle horses.
They are short in stature and very friendly, the
opposite of the dogs. I'd bring apples along, cut them up and offer
them some. They were not the least bit shy or standoffish.
There were a lot of unusual road signs, and while some
were easy to understand, others were perplexing.
For example, it's clear that the sign on the left warns
of a school zone. But what does the one on the right mean? Beware of
business men and women carrying briefcases?
I was fortunate to schedule my visit during the
"National Holiday" or St. Olav's day which commemorates the
death of the Norwegian King, Olaf the Holy, who fell in battle on
July 29th, 1030.
During this holiday everyone dresses in traditional
clothing. This is Kristian my landlord and his son. These clothes are
handmade from wool and knitted by Kristian's mother.
Small Villages and Extreme Isolation
Most villages are very small, perhaps 50-100 people, and
they are very isolated...but in a good way. The people are strong and
Many villages have been connected by tunnels in recent
years, but some still must depend on ferries to reach a store,
services or medical care.
I thought it unusual that in these very small villages,
and with all of this open land, the houses were built in a small
cluster with only a few feet in-between each house.