Travel to the Faroe Islands: The islands around in a wheelchair is written by Anna le Dous.
Light at the end of a Faroese tunnel - The Faroe Islands around in a wheelchair
Can one at all experience the Faroe Islands in a wheelchair? The headlights from the oncoming car can be seen in the distance, and we have to drive nicely to the side and park in a parking lot so that it can pass. There is only one track in the tunnel to the elongated island, Kalsoy, which we are heading towards to see the seal woman.
The legend of the seal woman tells of waves that wash the seals up on the beach on Epiphany. They transform into humans and disappear into a giant cave to party in order to put on their skins again at sunrise and go to sea.
We are lucky. A sudden change of weather and the sun shining from a blue sky as we come out of the dark tunnel. It allows us to get all the way down to the sea where the seal woman statue stands. In severe weather she had to be enjoyed from above. The bright light gives us far more beautiful images of the statue, reminiscent of the little mermaid, than we would have had just two hours earlier.
In the Faroe Islands, you can experience all types of weather in a matter of hours. Nature plays the absolute main role. If the weather does not want to, there are things that can not be done. For although there are many single-track tunnels, there are several islands which are only connected by ferry connection. If you want to go to these islands, it is wise to check the weather forecast first - at least in case you also want to go back again…
Arriving in the Faroe Islands in a wheelchair is a challenge
The dependence on knowing the sailing plans you quickly learn to live with when you, like us, were accommodated on the island of Sandoy for the first ten days, to which there is a ferry every two hours.
The crossing is of 40 minutes duration, and you sail past the long narrow island, Hestur, where the ferry docks if someone is going to get off or on. A ferry ride where you can spend time spotting puffins, all the while enjoying coffee or cocoa from the vending machine.
Already the first sailing trip on our trip to the Faroe Islands - the crossing to Sandoy - became a challenge. I was persuaded to take the elevator instead of sitting on the car deck during the crossing. It went well - at least on the way up. But when the ferry landed at the northernmost settlement of Skopun, the plan was to take the same elevator down again that we had come up with.
"The lift is stuck," said the friendly crewman after pressing the button several times in an attempt to summon the elevator. Now good advice was expensive.
"How do I get off the ferry now?" "And how does my 150 kg heavy electric wheelchair come down?", I asked the nervous man, who clearly had not yet grasped the seriousness of the matter. In the quiet and probably a bit naive, I hoped that Skopun - a town that has both a fillet factory and a salmon breeding station - also had a round-the-clock scheme for elevator repairers…
As I have experienced thousands of times before, suddenly five grown men stood next to me, saying, "We'll lift it down the stairs - it's no problem." Immediately there were no other solutions, unless I wanted to sail in a shuttle service back and forth between Skopun and Gamlarætt for the next few days.
My helper lifted me out of the wheelchair and carried me down the long, steep and narrow ship's stairs, while I feared for my wheelchair - which is my arms and legs - which was left to the five confident men, who should probably get a surprise , as soon as they took on the task. Now the crew had free rein to lay out strategy for how they would tow the wheelchair down.
As I had anticipated, they had to give up dragging the wheelchair down the stairs. Fortunately, one of the crew members had come up with the inventive idea of using a crane and hoisting the wheelchair onto the outside of the ship. It came down and in good condition. Where there is a will, there is a crane! I was now ready to seriously experience the Faroe Islands in a wheelchair.
On a local Faroese visit
When we went to Thorshavn the next day, I chose to stay on the car deck. We were going to Thorshavn to participate in Ólavsøka, which is the Faroe Islands' national day.
The city was full of people wearing colorful national costumes, and if you did not know better, you would think that the whole Faroe Islands were gathered in Thorshavn. The festivities started with parades through the streets followed by speeches and kaproning.
Ólavsøka is an event that brings together locals and visitors. During the festivities, the locals greet friends and acquaintances from other villages that they have not seen for a long time. As a tourist, you feel the joy and the good atmosphere, but solely for the reason that you do not wear a national costume, you feel like a kind of spectator to the festivities.
I did, at least, until a man in an electric wheelchair stopped me in the middle of an intersection. "Hi Anna," he said. I thought like crazy about how I had to know him, but thought I was forced to admit that I did not know who he was.
He got ahead of me: "You do not know me, but I know you." Uhh, I was confused. The man was Faroese, and I had never been to the Faroe Islands before. How should he know me from?
He explained that a month earlier he had been admitted to the hospital in Hornbæk in North Zealand, where there is a very special ward for spinal cord injuries. And there he had heard me give my lecture "Around the world in a wheelchair". Yes, he was right - it was me. It was well remembered.
Faroese are known for their friendly nature and hospitality. Immediately after his explanation and the introductory presentation of me, him, my travel companion and his wife, we exchanged phone numbers and he asked if we would like to have dinner at their home in Vestmanna, located on the northwest coast of the main island of Streymoy. We had it, because the best thing about traveling is when you are invited inside a private home, and especially a Faroese home.
Under the skin of the Faroese culture
On our trip to the Faroe Islands, we visited Vestmanna twice; once to eat whales, which have traditionally been an important part of the Faroese diet. It is eaten both dried as a snack and cooked for a meal served with potatoes and gravy. In addition, Linie Aquavit is drunk with ram's horn.
Aries is a typical souvenir from the Faroe Islands. We bought one of these in Tjørnuvik, a small village surrounded by high mountains. The narrow road rises steeply upwards and is not for people with a fear of heights.
On the horizon you can glimpse Risin and Kellingin, 'The Giant and the Bitch', two mighty stone pillars. But if you want to avoid spontaneous lamb roasts for dinner, you as a motorist must be vigilant and keep an eye on the road instead of looking for stone pillars. Like so many places in the Faroe Islands, you can never predict when a sheep will jump.
In Tjørnuvik we were received by Karen-Marie, who invited us to delicious home-made rhubarb porridge outside her small shop, where she sat and knitted, all the while lively entertaining the guests who tasted her porridge. A sales ploy that seemed to work, for no one dared go on without at least buying a ram's horn in her souvenir shop.
Severe weather changed our trip to the Faroe Islands
Close to Tjørnuvik is a town called Saksun. The village is incredibly beautiful at the end of a narrow fjord with high mountains on both sides. We visited this village twice. Second time with Maria, who had flown to the Faroe Islands and spent the last five days with us before continuing the trip by ship to Iceland.
Together we went to a concert in the town of Klaksvik, which is the second largest town in the Faroe Islands. We had planned to go to the island of Mykines, which is said to be rich in bird life. But we had to change our plans due to a sudden storm and sailed instead to the southernmost island, Suduroy. Here we drove around and enjoyed the view from inside the car, where we could sit safely in the shelter.
Violent storms, heavy rainfall, a wall of fog and hail in summer are not uncommon in the Faroe Islands. But if you are willing to sniff the fresh air and see the shades of the colors, the Faroe Islands are infinitely beautiful, regardless of the weather.
Is the mind tuned to see opportunities rather than obstacles. And if you are ready to plunge into the unknown and unexpected, then you are also ready to drive into the many long tunnels, only out of curiosity for what a beautiful view awaits at the other end. Driven by curiosity to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Good trip to Faroe Islands In a wheelchair or not.
How many islands does the Faroe Islands consist of?
- Little Dimun
- Great Dimming
- The Faroe Islands consist of 18 islands in total
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