Tuesday, May 31, 2011

VoM2: Iceland Arrival

I’ve arrived in Seydisfjordur, Iceland, and checked into a cozy little room for a few days. Here’s the view from my window… Stay tuned!

Monday, May 30, 2011

VoM2: Farewell Faroe Islands

A last shot of Torshavn, Faroe Islands, from the deck of the ferry. As you can see, the sun decided to finally make an appearance in honor of my departure… Of course!!!

"Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think." -- Robert Henri

"The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness." -- Joseph Conrad

"Ocean: A body of water occupying two-thirds of a world made for man — who has no gills." -- Ambrose Bierce

Friday, May 27, 2011

VoM2: Northernmost Village, Faroe Islands

I made it out to the northernmost village on the northernmost island today. The weather has remained lousy, with ongoing wind and rain being joined by cold. It’s really cold, actually, and there’s snow on some the mountain peaks! The forecast is for more of the same over the weekend, so I think my fantastic Faroe Islands exploration may be complete. I’ll take a look at tomorrow, but will probably just hang out here for the day before repositioning back to Torshavn for the ferry to Iceland on Monday… Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

VoM2: Weather Delay

The weather has been lousy the past few days, so I haven’t gotten out much. Today I’m going to reposition to the northernmost islands and hope the weather will clear up enough to allow some exploration there. I’ll try to post from there, but if I’m not able to I’ll update when I return here to Torshavn on Sunday… Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

VoM2: Youth Football, Faroe Islands

[Flash 10 is required to watch video]

VoM2: Eidi, Faroe Islands

It was rainy and windy again in the morning, but it sure cleared up nicely for my visit to the truly exquisite area of Eidi on the northwest coast!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

VoM2: Toftir, Faroe Islands

The village on the right is Toftir. Across the water on the left is Strendur, an hour away by bus! It’s 30-minutes up one side of the fjord and 30-minutes back down the other side. If you look closely — click on the photo to embiggen — you can see how deep the fjord cuts into the land. This is typical for the Faroe Islands, and one of the country’s most consistently striking features. In some cases, the fjords cut all the way through, dividing the land into separate islands.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

SVoM2: Suduroy, Faroe Islands

I took the morning ferry to Suduroy, the southern-most Faroe Island. The wind blew a gale all day — which made the seas lively and the walking sporty! — but the sun popped out often enough for me to get a few good photos… Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

VoM2: The Sun!

The sun just peeked out for a few minutes and gave us quite a show!… I’m seeing it as an omen that tomorrow will be clearer and that I should take a ferry!

VoM2: Maybe Not So Simple

For the past two days, it’s been freezing cold with rain blowing sideways. So, I’ve been indoors enjoying some quality “think time.” Partly, I’ve been planning my next exploration days — whenever they may come! — and chuckling about how I wrote in my last post that transportation in the Faroe Islands is “simple.”

As you may be able to tell from the image above, the bus/ferry system is extensive and goes pretty much everywhere. They don’t run all the time, however, mostly only in the early morning and late afternoon. Putting together destinations, routes and times for a day-long itinerary is a little more complicated than I may have led you to believe.

But, as you also probably know, I enjoy a good puzzle… Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

VoM2: Faroes Transport

In case you’ve been wondering how I get around here in the Faroe Islands, here’s a photo of my rides.

The blue buses run on very good roads to pretty much every village in the country, sometimes through tunnels under the water between the “main” central islands. To the outlying islands you take one of many small ferries which then connect with buses. So, a typical day of exploration for me goes something like this: walk, bus, ferry, bus, walk, bus, walk, bus, ferry, bus, walk. So simple even I can do it!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

VoM2: Faroes Rams

Young rams on the Faroe Island of Sandoy, doing what young males of pretty much every species seem to do whenever they hang out together. I found it quite entertaining… Perhaps you will, too! (No offense, mates, but it kinda reminds me of Rugby!)

VoM2: Sandoy, Faroe Islands

Here is today’s crop of photos from the Faroe Island called Sandoy! I finally got some sun — in between rain showers! — and was treated to stunning views everywhere I walked. This place is insanely beautiful.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

VoM2: Vestmanna, Faroe Islands

Today’s photos from Vestmanna… I can’t wait to see what this place looks like on a sunny day!

Friday, May 13, 2011

VoM2: Tourism Tag-Line

Just in case you thought I was kidding about that tourism tag-line!

VoM2: Servagur, Faroe Islands

Here are a few shots around Servagur, Faroe Islands, though they hardly do credit to the real look and feel of such a tidy, quiet little village surrounded by a stunning landscape. I’ll keep trying!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

VoM2: Kirkjobour, Faroe Islands

The current tourism tag-line in the Faroe Islands is: “The reality says more than a 1000 pictures.” The grammar may be a little off, but the message is spot-on… Maybe even a little under-stated. Here are a few photos from my day around the thousand-year-old village of Kirkjobour.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

VoM2: Faroe Islands

It’s been foggy, rainy, overcast and windy since I arrived in Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands on Monday morning. This is very typical maritime weather for these islands set in the middle of the North Atlantic gulf stream. I haven’t been able to see very much yet, but the glimpses I’ve gotten have been truly awesome! I’ll be here for three weeks and will keep you posted… Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

VoM2: Setting Sail For The Faroe Islands

Watching the coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma. There it is before you — smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mad, insipid or savage — and always a mute air of whispering: ‘Come and find out.’ -- Joseph Conrad

(A quote that always seems to find its way into my mind as I’m heading out to sea, especially when bound for lands that are new to me!… Next port: Torshavn, Faroe Islands)

Friday, May 06, 2011

VoM2: Coming Soon To A Gas Pump Near You!

Here’s some more math from The Voyage for you:

12.62 DKK per liter / 5.13 DKK per USD = $2.46 per liter

$2.46 per liter x 3.78 liters per gallon = $9.29 per gallon

Coming soon to a gas pump near you!

VoM2: Hirtshals, Denmark

I had my doubts about Hirtshals the moments I stepped off the train. The station is quite literally attached to a huge, sprawling ferry terminal and industrial port complex. At least, I figured, it couldn’t be any worse than my recent experiences at Holyhead and Harwich.

A couple of blocks down the road toward my hotel, I passed a nice little fishing boat harbor and thought maybe the town had some charm after all. I then strolled through the requisite, tidy little shopping block and found myself situated on a charming town square.

It turns out that Hirtshals is a really nice little town on the North Sea. It is visually dominated by a large lighthouse that has a very well preserved WWII coastal battery bunker right next to it. The beach is handsomely rugged, strewn with other remnants of the war era, and offered me an excellent, windy walk by the sea.

There is an adorable little maritime museum, but the town itself is kind of an outdoor museum with sculptures of seafaring life and people pretty much everywhere. Plus, I made friends with a really great dog… and that always brightens my day!

The moral of the story? Don’t judge a town by its train station!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

VoM2: Trains To Hirtshals

I took four trains to get from Esbjerg to Hirtshals yesterday, each one getting progressively smaller and with more stops along the way: A posh “Inter-City” express, a comfortable “Regional” line, a no-frills “Local” and finally this tiny — but brand-spanking new! — little one that’s pretty much the equivalent of the local bus.

I’m always impressed and a bit envious about European trains. They seem to go everywhere, run right on time and have schedules that perfectly inter-connect. I don’t know much about the high-speed rail line I’ve heard is being planned in California, but I sure wish the US had more and better train service!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

VoM2: Esbjerg, Denmark

Esbjerg is a nice, fairly typical little Euro-Scandia city. It’s got a tidy, compact downtown core with a sprawling port facility on one side and a mix of residential, university and green spaces on the other. There is also a hodgepodge of cultural establishments, including a small but very interesting wartime occupation museum and a pretty extensive maritime museum that has an adjoining aquarium and seal tank.

The city is most famous, however, for it’s massive “Man Meets The Sea” sculpture and it’s reasonable proximity to Legoland. I feel like I’ve pretty much covered Esbjerg in two full days, and am ready for another all-day train ride tomorrow to reach Hirtshals at the northern tip of the peninsula.

Monday, May 02, 2011

VoM2: Ireland To Denmark Transit

I’ve had a few days of pretty fast moving! Here’s a quick recap:

On Thursday, I took the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, Wales, where I did some laundry, confirmed my trains going forward and overnighted. Holyhead isn’t much of a town in my opinion, and except for the ferry connection I can’t really recommend it as a place to visit.

On Friday I traveled all day via five rail legs: Holyhead-Chester-London(Eustus)-London(Liverpool)-Manningtree-Harwich. Although I passed through London on the day of The Royal Wedding (see, even I capitalize it!) there were no problems besides eight hours of seat time.

I spent Saturday in Harwich checking out the small old town, which is a little nicer than Holyhead but also mostly useful only as a ferry port.

Yesterday (Sunday) I boarded the DFDS ferry to Esbjerg, Denmark, and immediately enjoyed the many signals — with which I’m so familiar — that I was changing countries: Different language, food, alcohol, bedding, etc. Plus, of course, natural Scandinavian blondes who were happy to help me remember my 12-word Danish vocabulary! The ferry was pretty typical, with decent accommodations, food and drink, all of which were horribly over-priced to a captive market. The sunset on the North Sea, however, was priceless.

I arrived in Esbjerg mid-day today (Monday) and have made my way to a reasonable little downtown hotel. I’ll be here for a couple of days to check out the town, make my arrangements going north to my next ferry port and generally catching up with myself.

I’m about a third of the way to where I’m going in the Faroe Islands… Stay tuned!