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Today (Monday) we called at Torshavn in the Faroe Islands. This was definitely one of the calls we had most been looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. We docked at 8 o’clock. This was Azura’s first call at this port, and we learned that Azura is the largest cruise ship to call at Torshavn so far. Certainly it looked to be a tight manoeuvre getting into the berth – Azura had to be swung to starboard around the end of the pier which only extends from the bow to midships, and there didn’t appear to be much clearance as her stern moved to port. But we got in, on time, so we were happy.

We were booked on an excursion, “Scenic Faroes and Pancakes”. This consisted of a drive of an hour or a bit more to a very small village at the north of the islands. During the drive we went through a tunnel under a mountain and over a bridge “across the Atlantic”, between one large island (Streymoy, on which Torshavn is located) and another (Eysturoy). This bridge is referred to thusly because the water channel it crosses is indeed an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way the road climbed very high up steep hills until at one point, where we stopped for a photo opportunity, we were at a height of nearly 700 metres (over 2000 feet in old money). And it was a genuine 700 metres – we were looking down all of them, very steeply, to the sea at the bottom.

We spent over an hour at the little village and had refreshments, and then had the opportunity to stroll around. It was all delightful – dramatic cliffs and mountains, and the sea breaking on the rocks in the bay below the village. (Pictures in a few days.) Then it was back onto the coach to continue the drive with a couple more brief stops for photos and fresh air. Best of all, the route the drive took was very nearly circular, or actually “figure of eight” – there was very little ground that we covered twice. We did go over the bridge in both directions as that’s the only way of getting from one island to the other, but on the return to Torshavn we drove along the old mountain road that the tunnel replaced. The old road is still there, and still in use, but most traffic uses the tunnel – it’s a lot easier, especially in winter.

The scenery along the drive was really wonderful – high and sometimes craggy mountains dropping steeply to deep fjord-type inlets, with occasional settlements. Most are very small – the population of the Faroe Islands is only 50,000 and over a third of them live in Thorshavn, so almost all of the other settlements are very small, and generally getting smaller. The weather was very changeable – we went from bright sunshine to cloud to rain and back again several times. It wasn’t warm – 10° or 11° at best, and perhaps just 7° in the rain up in the mountains. It was very refreshing, however, and we both really enjoyed it. I have to report that we preferred this drive to the one at Akureyri in Iceland.

We returned to Azura at 1:30, had a quick lunch, and then went back ashore for a gentle walk around the old town for an hour or less. We didn’t even spend any money, so the Danish Kroner we’d brought with us have survived to fight another day. (They use Danish Kroner here, as the Faroe Islands are a self-governing country within the state of Denmark. The relationship is a little like that between Scotland and England but even more complicated – the Faroe Islands is not a member of the EU, for example, although Denmark is.)

There was one disappointment. As I mentioned in a brief post during the morning, it turns out that the Faroe Islands isn’t included in the new ‘free roaming’ arrangements (possibly through not being in the EU). When we were having refreshments on the excursion there was wifi but I only had my phone and therefore wasn’t able to publish posts already drafted on the iPad. This afternoon I took the iPad out with me on the walk around Torshavn, and found free wifi in the information centre at the cruise & ferry terminal. However, although I could connect to the wifi it didn’t seem to be connected to the internet, so I was still unable to post. Ah well – it will have to wait until Belfast  on Wednesday. But you’ll already know this because that’s when this will have been posted. (Update – I got a good connection as we sailed past the Hebrides, so you can enjoy it a day early!)

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