The Faroe Islands have always been on my albeit short, destination list. It’s a special place that requires a little more planning to get to, let alone once you’ve arrived. The Faroe Islands are comprised of 18 volcanic islands, located between Iceland, Norway, and Scotland. Because of its’ remote location, these islands are largely untouched, offering beautiful, pristine landscapes, waiting to be explored, and photographed. Hike up traditional Faroese pathways, and breathe in some of the cleanest air in the world.
With hotels, rental cars, ferries, and activities in low supply and high demand, these magical islands force you into one of two modes – go with the flow (because you have to), or rigidly organized (because you have to). If, like me, you arrive only moderately organized, you’ll find you no longer have a choice, but to go with the flow, Faroe Island style. Things I’ve learned from the Faroese:
- Learn to knit and fish. These are skills that at home, we’d consider nice to have, but definitely not necessary. Leisure skills at best. For the Faroese, they are a matter of necessity, and everybody learns them. Despite the cold, North Atlantic winds, you’ll find young children and their fathers, fishing along the rocks at every water’s edge. They do this before going to work and school, in preparation for dinner. Likewise, young and old, the knitting tradition can be found on buses, in restaurants, on porch steps, and sitting on the ferry. I’ve noticed several women dressed in business attire, intermittently knitting and typing on their laptops. Knit, purl, type. The lesson? Keep the skills and traditions that serve you, and embrace your culture.
- Speak English. So what? Many nations speak English. I have a Swiss friend who speaks more languages than he has fingers. But the Faroese don’t have to! The Faroe Islands are so secluded, and although tourism is increasing, it is a far cry from the numbers of visitors you’ll find at the Tower of London. Despite 90% of their tourism market coming from Denmark, the Faroese speak, well, Faroese…and Danish, and English. Fluently. The lesson? Learn it, and learn it well.
- Mow your roof. Yes, that’s right. The Faroese have a unique architectural heritage with grass roofs that are preserved and cherished. It is no easy task to climb up onto your rooftop, lawn mower in hand, and mow your roof. It often takes more than one person, enlisting neighbours, creating community. The lesson? Be proud of your heritage and take care of your belongings (especially if they are centuries old).
- Keep hiking. The Faroe Islands are some of the most pristine, unspoilt islands in the world. Settlements haven’t come easy, as the cold, North Atlantic winds are harsh, and the rains are relentless. The summer and winter months often yield the same, relatively cool, temperatures. With virtually no trees, there is little shelter from the elements. The fog rolls in, and visibility is often poor, despite the long summer days, and short nights. Some villages have but a few houses, others boasting a few handfuls. Apart from the two larger “cities” – Torshavn and Klasvik, most islanders are isolated. Roads are narrow, and the traditional connections to each village were by foot. There are well-trodden paths linking each village, following harsh terrain over the mountains, and rugged cliffs left by the sea. The Faroese push through, hiking through all sorts of weather. The lesson? Embrace the storm, for it too, will turn. And when it does, the views will be breathtaking.
- Collect driftwood… because eventually, you can build a house. There are very few trees on the Faroe Islands, due to unfavourable weather and soil conditions. Because of this, the first homesteads were made out of driftwood that was collected as it washed up on shore from “neighbouring” lands such as Norway. Slow process? You bet! But mixed with stone, and tough turf for the roof, there are still many such old Viking houses standing. The lesson? The universe will always provide what you need. Have patience.
Interested in learning and exploring more about the Faroe Islands? Join us for a fun-filled yoga and photography retreat in the pristine Faroe Islands for 7 nights beginning Saturday, July 8th, 2017. Explore your creativity through movement while enjoying daily hatha and restorative yoga sessions, and guided photography excursions. OMbiance Yoga retreats are created to inspire others to grow and deepen on a personal level. No yoga or photography experience necessary. Just a willingness to learn, explore, and connect with others! Find more information here: OMbiance Yoga & Photography Retreat – July 8-15, 2017.
The most important part of our yoga retreat, of course, was yoga! After a few days, I began to call Justina the “pretzel” because she could bend in every direction without effort. Justina knows yoga and was expert in instructing and accommodating those of us who are not
as advanced and as flexible as she. It was great. I’d do it again in a minute – any time-anywhere when I am not required to be at work. The retreat in Faroe Islands sounds absolutely heavenly! I would send in my deposit immediately if I were free at that time; unfortunately I am not. I will see you again Justina, as soon as a retreat fits into my work schedule!” ~ Pamela Perkins