Translation of the preface of the danish guidebook Turen går til Færøerne (7th edition, 2013)
Flying north on a summer´s day watching a land emerge from the azure Atlantic. Unfolding and transforming into islands in all sorts of shapes from wide, narrow and curvy to tiny knolls. Eighteen pale green islands each with its own chalky, tailored quilt on top.
Or approaching by ship getting your heart with you. Standing on the sundeck witnessing a school of porpoises playing ducks and drakes in the distance. Gliding close by mountain sides with birds and sheep. Breathing in the fresh, salt air. Meeting a fulmar’s black glance when it skims the sea.
If the first-hand impression is mountains that are reflected in the glittering sea, while the sun is playing tag through grass-grown valleys, you will surrender outright. And admit that “National Geographic Traveler” is right when it has proclaimed the islands the best in the world. But the blue summer image is only one observation of the Faroe Islands. An approach can easily take place in a stormy breeze where you are whirled around by gusts in the narrow fiords. The entering by ship into a wall of fog where you see nothing until the red buildings of Tinganes tell you that you are there.
Are you prepared, you will surrender anyway. In that case the suitcase is packed with suitable clothes, the barometer is at “fair” irrespective of the weather. Your senses fine-tuned to catch the numerous shades of colour in the grey and the beauty in the raw. Your mind tuned in to see opportunities rather than obstacles. Ready to throw yourself out into the unknown and unexpected. And to feel how liberating and enriching that can be.
If the sea fog descends on the capital, you will find a sunny place in Saksun or Tjørnuvík, where you can walk in the mountains under a clear summer sky and paddle on wide sandy beaches with a view of magnificent rock formations. Despite drizzle you go for an outing, and in the middle of a rain shower a cottage door opens, and somebody offers you coffee. On your way home from the cafe´ the sun comes blazing out, spontaneously you jump on the liner, and have time for an evening walk in the stony wood behind the velvet-smooth facade of Nólsoy. You ask your way of a man on Sandoy, and are invited to a party. You get talking with an artist on Suðuroy and see her studio. You go to a concert, and end up at an after party with choir and orchestra. You open a door to a modest shop, and leave it loaded down with fashion knitwear and the hottest salmon skin shoes.
The Faroe Islands are still the smell of fish trawler, and the sound of the surf against cliffs. The classical attractions are bird cliffs, cave concerts and evenings when tourists can taste air-dried mutton and participate in chain dance. But the Faroe Islands are also avant-garde installation art. New Nordic fusion cuisine. Rappelling. Raw design. Exciting architecture. A tremendous range of music festivals. A nation reinterpreting and refining the ancient traditions so that they will match a globalized world. Innovation in other words. Or nýskapan as it says in a Faroese in perpetual development.
Try as many facets as possible of the Atlantic country. Recognize that there will not be enough time. That you will only experience a glimpse of the Faroe Islands. That you have an appetite for more. And that you must go up there again as soon as possible.
Translation by Vivian Nebel.