On October 15th, my family and I set off on a week-long adventure on the North Atlantic Ocean: The Viking Cruise with Smyril Line to the Faroe Islands and Iceland. Back in 2013, my mum and I went on the same cruise at the same time of the year, and this was when I fell in love with the Faroe Islands – and also East Iceland. If you read this blog, you will know how much I love the Faroe Islands, and Iceland has a secure spot on my top-10 list of favourite countries as well, and I especially love East Iceland and the Westfjords. I have been to the Faroe Islands four times before, and to Iceland twice – and now it was time to share my love for both countries with my family.
Since my older brother and I are at university and my younger brother is in high school, we only had a week to travel during the autumn school holiday, so we decided to take the one-week cruise option, where you get two half days on the Faroe Islands and two full days in Iceland. We brought along our two cars, so we could explore as much as possible of the two countries during the short amount of time available. The rest of the days were spent on the ferry, so we had a mix of a relaxing holiday and an adventure holiday.
We were a group of seven that went on the cruise: My mum Tracey, my dad Carsten, my grandmother Cherry, my younger brother Brandon, my older brother Jamie, Jamie’s girlfriend Didde and myself. I was so excited to show them “my part of the world”, as I call it, and I’m proud to say that they all enjoyed it! Even my grandmother, who generally prefers warm countries 😉
The Viking Cruise went from Saturday the 15th of October to Saturday the 22nd of October, starting and ending in Hirtshals in the north of Jutland. The first day was spent chilling on the ferry and adjusting to our new temporary lifestyle as cruise-goers. We sailed from Hirtshals at 3 PM, then had some dinner in the cafeteria and spent the evening in Naust Bar, where there was live music and pub quizzes. Out of four quizzes, my family was in the final three times, and the last one we finally won! Five giftcards for drinks well-earned!
We fell asleep in our bunk beds as the ferry sailed past the blinking lights of the Norwegian coastline and out into the open ocean.
Despite not being on land, Sunday was a day filled with activities. We woke up in the early morning to have the prepaid breakfast buffet, which was nice and plentiful, before heading off to the fitness room, where we spent a good hour lifting weights and using different exercise machines. I’m not usually a fitness type of person, but I found it quite fun and I’m even considering doing it here in Copenhagen now! In the early afternoon, the crew behind the Viking Cruise had prepared some films about the Faroe Islands for us to watch, so we would be ready for our adventures the following day.
Afterwards, we attended bingo in the Saga Café, while watching the ferry sail past the misty Shetland Islands in the near distance. I got lucky at the bingo and won a 200 DKK voucher, which I spent on a mascara, a puffin ornament and snacks for my family. The rest of the time on the ferry was spent writing blogs, doing school work and relaxing with card games. The atmosphere on Nörrona is nice and relaxed and despite being constantly on the move (literally), it really was the perfect place to recharge.
We woke up early on Monday morning, as the ship docked at 5 AM in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. Before going to the car, we went up to the deck to see the ferry sail into the sleepy capital. We had a long and eventful day ahead of us. On our first stop in the Faroe Islands, we had 9 hours to explore. To most people that would probably be enough to at least get a good impression of the country, and that was exactly what I was hoping that my family would get. I didn’t have time to show them everything – I haven’t even seen everything myself -, but I did my best to plan a fulfilling itinerary.
It took us an hour to get off the ferry, so we were a bit late for our breakfast with Ása and Erling, who I stayed with for two weeks back in March 2015. It was great that my family finally got to meet one of my Faroese families! We had a great few hours there with plenty of food, which made us ready to take on the day of sightseeing!
From Ásas and Erlings house in Tórshavn we drove up through Streymoy, over the bridge to the second largest island of Eysturoy and up north to the village of Eiði. In Eiði begins one of the most beautiful drives in the Faroe Islands, through the highest mountains to the village of Gjógv. This route is one of the most popular tourist routes – and with good reason. Because of its outstanding beauty, I decided to show my family that route as the first thing. I didn’t have any doubt in my mind that they would get a good first impression of the Faroe Islands on this route!
On the way to Gjógv, we made several photo stops. We first came to the lookout to the two sea stacks, Risin and Kellingin, which is right beside Slætteratindur, the highest mountain on the Faroe Islands. Before reaching Gjógv, we stopped on top of the mountain road to look down at the tiny village of Funningur, which is one of the cutest villages in the Faroe Islands!
Once in Gjógv, I showed my family one of the most famous sights in the country – the gorge in the middle of the village, which actually works as a natural harbour. We all walked along the ridge of the gorge until we got to the edge, where we could see the birds flying in and out of their nests in the cliffs. Gjógv is a definite must-see for first-time goers to the Faroe Islands!
When we had finished up in Gjógv, it was time to head to Saksun, my favourite place in the country! This is the fourth time that I visit Saksun and Erling’s old house, and I never get tired of it. Saksun is the most picture-perfect place in the country, and therefore I just had to show it to my family. If you haven’t seen Saksun, you haven’t seen the Faroe Islands.
After spending some time in beautiful Saksun, it was time to head back to Tórshavn and the ferry. Instead of going the quick way along the main road, we decided to drive along the ancient road Oyggjarvegur, which lost its importance when the tunnel Kollfjarðartunnilin, which connects Tórshavn and Kollafjørður, was built in 1992. Today, the road is mainly used by tourists, who go there to see the highest mountains on Streymoy, the only prison in the Faroe Islands, and the iconic view of the island of Koltur, which was also my main reason for going there. I had driven the road before, but never seen “that” view.
Unfortunately, when we drove along the road and through the valley Mjørkadalur, which is known as “the foggy valley”, the place lived up to its name. In such a way that we almost couldn’t see anything, when we got to the view point for Koltur… We actually tried again, when we got back to the Faroe Islands three days later, but once again, the foggy valley was indeed a foggy valley. I guess I’ll have to wait for summer to get my dream view of Koltur.
The ferry left the harbour in Tórshavn at 2 PM, and I spent the next two hours standing on the deck, looking out at my beautiful islands as we sailed past them. I saw a lot of the places that I had been to before, including the iconic Trøllkonufingur on Vágar. I love the fact that I’m beginning to recognize places in the Faroe Islands, not only on maps, but in real life as well.
The rest of the day was spent watching films about Iceland, having dinner with my family and playing cards in our new favourite pub, Naust Bar.
On Tuesday morning at 10 AM, after sailing through the East Icelandic fjords for two mesmerizing hours, we finally arrived at our end destination – the tiny village of Seyðisfjörður.
We only had two days to explore Iceland, the country with the most magnificent and versatile nature in Europe. Iceland has A LOT to offer, and while I’ve already seen a lot the last two times I visited the country, I still have so much more to explore and experience. Even in the sparsely populated region of East Iceland, there is so much to see that I could spend 10 years there. Iceland, just like the Faroe Islands, is a country that I’ll never be done with.
When we first arrived in Seyðisfjörður, we went to the tourist office to plan our itinerary, before having a walk around the village, where we saw the church that I’ll get married in (someday, when mr. right puts me on a ferry to Iceland and into the blue church), and then walked up a waterfall.
In the early afternoon, we started our first roadtrip, which went through three villages that I knew absolutely nothing about beforehand. I had simply looked at the map and pointed three villages out. It was time to explore the unknown, time to let Iceland win my family over – and myself again. The roadtrip went through Reyðarfjörður, Eskifjörður and Neskaupstaður, and offered beautiful mountainous scenery throughout, small nature hikes and a very exciting visit to a crystal cave. All of this I will write much more about in an upcoming post!
On Wednesday morning, we set off early on a long roadtrip to Lake Mývatn, a place that I had planned to – but failed to – see twice already. Thankfully, I was third time lucky, and my family and I had a long and adventurous day by the lake, where we saw all of the amazing volcanic sights that are located around the lake. My favourite experience of all was to climb Hverfjall Crater!
The amazing destination of Mývatn deserves its own post, which is why I won’t go into further detail on this post. Stay tuned for more pictures and stories from this spectacular place!
At 4 PM, we drove for 2,5 hours back to Seyðisfjörður, where the ferry was waiting to depart at 8 PM towards the Faroe Islands once again.
When I woke up Thursday morning, we were still sailing through the stormy North Atlantic. It had been a dreadful night and most of us hadn’t had any sleep. Still, I was full of energy, probably because I knew that, in a few hours, I would be seeing the place that I call home once again.
At 3 PM, we arrived in the harbour in Tórshavn once again, but this time we only had six hours in the country. We spent the first hour in Tórshavn, shopping and doing a bit of sightseeing. I bought quite a few knits in the charity shop where I’m now a regular, haha. I just love Faroese sweaters!
Afterwards, we drove to Vestmanna via Oyggjarvegur, but once again, we weren’t lucky with the views. We got to Vestmanna at 5 PM, where Rigmor and Jens and their family, who I stayed with for a few days in March 2015 and have continued to visit whenever I’ve been in the country, had invited us for a lovely dinner. It was nice to talk about old times with them, and to finally introduce my family to my other Faroese family. Before we left, Rigmor gave me an old Faroese sweater that she found in her mum’s old house. Sonni, her son, couldn’t fit it anymore, so it was time to pass it on. I have promised to wear and love it until the day I pass it on to someone else. For now, I will definitely keep it, as it’s my new favourite sweater!
At 9 PM, our on-land adventures came to an end, as we sailed towards Denmark and had open ocean ahead of us for two days straight.
On Friday, we had another full day on the ferry, so I decided to sleep in and spend the day relaxing and catching up with some homework. I woke up to a perfect view of the Shetland Islands bathed in sunrise colours. Never before had I seen the Shetland Islands look so beautiful and inviting. Maybe it’s finally time for me to visit them?
At 3 PM, we all gathered in the Saga Café to have another game of bingo, but unfortunately, I didn’t win this time. Afterwards, we played cards and did some exercises, before putting it all on again at the Viking Buffet at 8 PM. But thankfully for me, I didn’t have the option to eat all of the calories that I had just lost, as the vikings primarily ate meat, which was also what we were served, but I did manage to find a few vegetables.
Early Saturday morning, we arrived at the port of Hirtshals and started the journey back to Hov, my hometown, where our cat was waiting with miaws and kisses. I stayed with my family until Sunday evening and then it was time to head back to Copenhagen and the university.
Going on the Viking Cruise with my entire family was a huge experience. Despite the fact that I have travelled in the North Atlantic six times in the last three years, I never get tired of it. I’m also happy to say that my family, who are all sun-people (I’m the opposite, as you have probably guessed), also enjoyed the Faroe Islands, Iceland and the journey in itself. It was a successful trip and a good teaser for my family, who now hopefully will love to visit me when I eventually move up there.