Faroe Islands

View at Vágar, Faroe Islands
My Etsy shop is named for my grandparents' homeland, the Faroe Islands.  We grew up hearing stories about this mystical place no one else we knew had ever heard of.  It can be hard in elementary school when the class is researching family histories and not only has the teacher never heard of your country of origin, but the librarian shrugs and hands you a book about Egypt (Pharoah Islands?  Are you sure?)  This is pre-Internet and even pre-computer, of course, and in the days when long-distance phone calls were so prohibitively expensive they simply never took place.  We had no contact with our Faroese relatives.  We just knew that somewhere out there we had family.

As it turns out, my grandmother was right and the librarian was wrong -- the Faroes do exist, halfway between Iceland and the Shetlands.

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My sisters and I didn't get there until we were adults, but what a magnificent place, every bit as magical as our grandmother's stories would have us think -- if you think cloud-cloaked green mountains surging out of the sea are mystical and magical, which I do, and you don't mind lots of fog, rain, and cool weather, which I don't.  We have an amazing family, too, which I wish we could have known more of over the years of feeling alone and rootless.

Lookout over an Inlet full of fog - taken from 
the old NATO base at Sornfelli

Harbour at Gjógv


Off Skúgvoy

I could go on and on with lots more pictures just of beautiful standing rocks,  long vistas, and hidden harbours. But I can resist.  Barely.

The Faroes were originally settled by Vikings.  You can see their influence in the beautiful wooden fishing boats still in use today, reminiscent of the Viking longboats. 

In Tvøroyri, my grandfather's hometown

Site of a Viking longhouse
Kirkjubøur - a great website of this old village

The Faroes are easy to get to via Iceland, UK, Denmark, and Norway. You can get tourist information here and here.  Everybody under about 50 speaks English perfectly, and lots of people over 50 do, too. They'll also speak any Scandinavian language and likely a few others as well. So don't worry if your Faroese is rusty.

There's lots of info online about this amazing place, but here's the Wikipedia article and an interesting CIA run-down on the nation.

KOLTUR - My grandmother's family was originally from Koltur, which is now like
a museum island, with no families living there anymore.  Her grandparents 
moved to Skopun, where my grandmother was born (to Sakaris-Marianna).

Shed on Koltur
Same shed, looking out

The traditional industries of the Faroes are based on sheep and fish -- the sheep connection making them also of interest for me, as a handspinner.  I think my grandmother would find it kind of hilarious that I've taken up spinning in the New World, when this would have played such an integral part of her livelihood in the Old.  I like to think of this, at any rate.

Faroese sheep are beautiful and EVERYWHERE in the islands.  
There are more sheep than people living in the Faroes.

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