Monthly Archives: June 2012

Traveling north and south on the Suduroy Island

Hanging out with two forty-plus year old guys wasn’t a bad gig for a 74 year old. Being a mother of three sons, three grandsons, and a brother – no sisters,  it’s never difficult for me; especially when Arngrim and his brother-in-law, Martin, both of Soldarfjord, on the Island of Eysturoy in the Faroe Islands were so kind.

We boarded the Smyril ferry with the car in the Capital City of Torshovn, after leaving Soldarfjord early in the morning and driving to Torshovn.

The ferry was complete with a cafeteria, television and wifi and comfortable chairs. It was almost a two hour smooth ride, where we passed the Sandoy Island, the Island where Martin’s mother came from, and two green rock islands called large dimun, that is inhabited, and small dimun that is not inhabited. The one I saw very well through the window reminded me of an emerald stone.

There are so many rocks and islands, and they seem all to have names I said, and Martin answered. “All rocks in the Islands have names.”

When we docked on the Suduroy Island, we drove to where Martin had his appointment, while listening to Paul McCartney music in the car. We ate lunch in the Tvoroyri Hotel, dropped off Martin for his  stress test, and then Arngrim and I drove up to the North side of the Island.

We drove through the lovely green Island and  saw a different terrain from the Eysturoy Island and anything I had observed in Iceland. One area had strange looking rock formations that resembled tall columns. They almost looked as though they were built by humans.

On the way to the village furthest north on the Suduroy Island, we drove through Hvalba, and through many other smaller villages and their harbors. About three hours later, we picked up Martin and got the good news that he passed his stress test. Why not? He’s a gold medalist in the free stroke swim meet in Island Games.

Then there was so much more to see, after all there was the South side of the Island waiting to be discovered by the three of us. Along the way, Arngrim wanted to find a cliff he had discovered on a drive by himself one time, and while we were heading up the mountain, the fog nearly made it impossible to see in front of us, much less find the cliff he wanted to show us. Arngrim stopped the car at a spot that looked like it may be the place. Martin took off walking up the hill to see if it was the cliff as described by Arngrim.  “It has an extreme drop down to the bottom, and there are many birds you can see.” He had told us earlier.

So Martin walked to the top and Arngrim and I decided to follow. Then Martin disappeared. “Oh shit,” Arngrim said, when Martin wasn’t to be seen anywhere, with the worst feeling ever, until he popped up from where he had scrunched down hiding from us for a moment.

Later Arngrim said he was thinking. “Oh, Martin fell off the cliff, what am I going to say to my sister?” If that was the right place, there was nothing to see because of the fog. So we traveled on and found an old lighthouse and farm. A cliff, similar to what Arngrim had been looking for, appeared, but not the same one, but still it was impressive and scary. All around us sheep were grazing on the soft grass. By the way, the grass is really and truly as soft as it appears to be. It’s like walking on a plush carpet. You only need to walk around the memories dropped there by the sheep.

One other side trip was on a road that we should have taken in a four wheel drive. What we saw when we got close enough was another old farm house and a lighthouse on the fjord next to the water. The story of that place, is that a man by the name of Johan Kollafiroi and his new bride were driving around one day, and came upon the vacant farm house, and fell in love with the house, the ocean view and the fresh air. They liked it so much they convinced the farmer to let them live in it, and he agreed. Since then they have been making improvements. Kollafiroi is on public radio every Friday, giving a witty ten minute show, and is known, not only his wit, but the project he and his wife have taken on with the farm.

We got off that bumpy road, and eventually stopped at another old hotel for coffee and then back to the ferry for the sail back to Torshovn.

It was another great day in the Faroe Islands, commentated by two great guys.

Stories from the sea

On Sunday, while on the way to The Faroe Island Capital City, Torshavn, (don’t confuse it with the Island village Thorshafn, where I stayed for five weeks in Iceland), we made a detour to the top of a mountain where NATO had a fully operating radar early warning system during the Soviet cold war days. The purpose of the system was to detect Soviet airplanes coming too close to the Scandinavian countries, and the United Kingdom. NATO operations are now closed, but now used, instead for commercial traffic. It no longer monitors military traffic.

Five years ago when Arngrim took my friend, Marilyn McCord and me to the top, the system was operating and we were not allowed to take photos, and knew that we were being seen while on the road and the property on top of the mountain.

Right now, as I write this, we are on a two hour ferry  trip, passing islands and rocks to the Island of Suduroy, where we will spend the day and then ferry back to Torshavn.

But yesterday’s story will be for tomorrow’s posting.

Meanwhile, to get back to Sunday, Arngrim and I walked around the Torshavn Harbor and viewed a very large cruise ship that brought many tourists into the city. We also strolled around government building: a town municipality building, and a red-brick colored group of buildings with a grass covered roof that has been in use since the 1700s, and the Faroese Parliament building. It is thought among historians that the Faroese Parliament is older than even Iceland Parliament of the 900s.

An old sailing vessel called a Smack, was in the Harbor and reminded Arngrim of the story of that same type of ship and the tragedy that befell the family, and many people of the Island.

Per, Arngrim’s father, has stories to tell of his own adventures while working as a fisherman for thirty-years, in the same sea where his father perished before he was born. Per was born in August, 1932.

Per’s father, also named Per, and his two uncles – as well as seven fishermen from Soldarfjord – were sailing on the Smack called the Emmanuel between Iceland and the Faroe islands and on the way back to sell fish in the United Kingdom, they perished in a violent and rough sea. On the same boat there were nine other fishermen from other cities on the Faroe Islands. A total of nineteen souls perished from the Emmanuel.

Another Smack, the Laura, from Suduroy perished as well in the same storm. All together there were twenty men in each boat, some were brothers, and some were fathers and sons. They left mothers, daughters, wives and girlfriends waiting for their men who never came home. For those of us who do not know the experience of rough seas, go to YouTube and look at Rough Seas Iceland – the red boat. Hope you don’t get seasick.

Per’s mother lost her husband and her two brothers-in-laws at age 37, pregnant with Per and with five other children. She lived as a widow for another fifty-five years.

The tragedy of this was not uncommon to the early fishing days in the Faroe islands, and there are memorials honoring those men who never returned. One memorial rests close to Arngrim’s home.

Per, a strong man today, spoke of working on a German boat for a few months where he and other fishermen, taught the German fishermen how to split, clean and salt the fish. His  job on this ship began only two weeks after he and Eldrid were married in 1957. And now I would like to introduce this fine lady.

Eldrid’s life on the Island of Esturoy as a young wife and mother demanded strength of mind and body, a nurturing spirit and plenty of endurance. She took care of the children and the household while Per would be out fishing, many times for as long as six months.

She is a small women with a sweet face and beams out warmth to everyone who comes into the home: children, grandchildren, in-laws and friends. Even though I do not speak her language, in our silence,  she communicates a warm, welcoming spirit towards me.  She works hard, but moves around quietly performing her daily rituals and always with good humor.

In the earlier days, when the children were young, clothing was homemade, as there were no stores within proximity of the Soldarfjord where they live.  It was possible to purchase clothing in the capital city of Torshovn, but difficult to get there.

So what did they do for clothing?

“I made all the children’s clothing with my sewing machine and by knitting sweaters, hats and mittens.” She explained her early life while Arngrim translated as she sat knitting.

Faroese women begin as children, almost out of necessity, but now out of creating beautiful hand made works of wearable art.  Her daughters show great talent in knitting – I call “speed knitting” as they are fast with those needle.

Her granddaughters will learn soon.  She was making a hat for Solja, her granddaughter. Solja –  named after the flower that in English, is called, “Butter Cup”.

Arngrim further told me that in earlier days, boats would deliver the mail at certain stops along the fjord, but now, of course, mail is delivered to each household every day.

Eldrid began to work as a caregiver for the elderly when the children were older, and she retired from that after thirty years on the job.

The names of Eldrid and Pers adult children are Sanna, Meinhard, Arngrim, Eyo, and twins: Runi and Rogyi. They have twelve grandchildren.


Taking a break for one day

This house is in the Capital City. See more tomorrow on two adventures: one yesterday and one yet to experience today.

Through the grottos

Arngrim and I left from his home in Soldarfjord on the Island of Eysturoy and headed to the village of Vestmanna on the Island of Streymoy. When we were there, we boarded a boat to view the cliffs and grottos on the west side of the village and further on into the sea.

It was a sightseeing adventure that got us up close through narrow high rock sounds. Looking up, way up the toward the high-rise rock cliffs we saw birds in their nests in the nooks and crannies as they have done for centuries.

The boat accommodated over forty passengers, with seating indoors out of the cold, or outdoors on the top of the boat or in back, for more adventurous people as Arngim and myself. I had to drag out my Icelandic jacket/sweater out of my luggage to prepare for the cold trip on the fjord.

The boat started out slow with safety instructions then it picked up speed and the village got smaller as we headed away. A blue and white wake splashed a trail behind us.

Soon we were sailing inside a narrow strip and a natural, gigantic rock wall on both sides, but just before that, and all during the proximity of the cliffs, a commentator told us to look for the birds and their nests.

That’s not all of the life on the cliffs. I was astounded to see sheep on the steep cliffs as well. How they stay balanced way high on a rocky hill that seems to shoot straight up from the ground to the sky is a mystery to me. I can only assume the grass is sweeter there.

Breathtaking rock formations changed at each turn inside and at entrances and exits from the grotto.

I learned that while the views are incredible – and that’s not a writer’s exaggeration – It’s really not possible to capture the whole experience inside a camera. Every where I looked there stood another spectacular sight and many birds flying around. Oh, if the boat would just hold still, and if the bird would as well, then, maybe a camera might reveal a bit more of what we saw.

Before going inside one of the nearly enclosed, dark grotto, we were asked to wear protective helmets in case a rock came loose. We could see the dripping water glistening on the sides of the rocky wall.

After the trip through the grotto’s we visited a museum and saw  life-like figures that told the story of the beginning of life on the Faroe Islands.

On the way to Vestmanna, I took a photo of a house with a grass roof.

A boat sails from Vestmanna every  day, year around, depending on the weather. It was a two hour unforgettable trip.

News Flash News Flash News Flash News Flash

We just got back from a rowing competition and Per’s team took first place again and so did Berit’s team as well!  If you just tuned in, go back and read The Family of Athletes.



The family of athletes

All of Arngrim’s brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews have athletic abilities, and some have gone on to high achievements in their sport; Helen a Lakjuni, wife of Arngrim’s brother Runi, is a volley ball player on a National Team, his nephew Per Venned and Per’s girlfriend Berit compete in rowing competitions, and all have shown remarkable skill.

A recent example is Per’s ten member rowing team, who picked up two first place wins in the Klaksvik and Skalafjord races. But let’s not leave out Berit’s female six person team, for they also placed first in the same two competitions. Good going guys, but I must shout: cheers to the women!

The ten men boat is the largest boat in all the competitive rowing events. The competition that Per’s team won, in the Klaksvikingur boat is the most prestigious win; and the latest recent win was the second time Per’s team took first place.

Last year Per and his father, Martin, were on the winning Klaksvikingur boat; unusual, indeed, for a father and son to participate in the same race.

The recent  fifteen hundred meter Klaksvikingur race, Per and his team led, ended with a time score of 6 min. 38 sec.24/100, followed by other boats with the times: 6 min. 39. sec. 15/100; 6 min. 39 sec.18/100; 6 min. 50 sec.03/100. As you can see the strength and teamwork required to row the distance in that time. (1,500  meters =  approximately 1  mile).

A ten member boat race is 2,000 meters, however some fjord’s are shorter in distance which causes a shorter race with different time results.

For those of us not familiar with the sport of rowing, the highlights of the June 4th race are on the website, Press netvarp on top right corner, and choose kapprodur, the exiting race is described in rip-roaring detail, and an excited crowd cheering on their favorite team.

Rowing competition began with the use of fishing boats similar in the style of the forefathers from the 1800s before fishing boats used engines. Rowing has become a National sport in the Faroes.

In the large boat of ten, five rowers sit side by side, with a steerer in back, giving information on speed and tactics to stay ahead. Men rowers may have a female person at the steering helm, and men steer for the women’s team boat.

The steerers are animated, shouting and cheering the rowers on, and as stated above, the crowd is wild in anticipation.

“The rowing teams begin their training in January on machines, and on April 25 they put their boats into the water for the first time of the season,” said Arngrim.

The final competition is on July 28, the same date as the Faroe Islands National Day.

The photos are Helen #6 in volleyball action and her team. Klaksvik boat winning the race and the other is  Per in the middle of the boat with his arms held up high. The last picture is the Pall Fangi boat with Berit’s team rowing fast. Permission was granted for use of the photos by Jens Kristian Vang in the June 4 and June 11 edition of the Sosialurin Newspaper.

Beauty everywhere

There is no end to the wonder that comes from the views seen from nearly every vantage point in the Faroe Islands. You can’t help but stand amazed over the magnificent hills that rise straight up to meet the rocky ledges. Now that summer has arrived, brilliant green grass grace the hills almost to the top.

And then there is the fjord, the avenue that fishing boats and ships take to go out to sea. I look at the fjord and see how the sun and water movement creates  sparkling diamonds in the water.

It’s sometimes very peaceful, but I have heard stories of the old days of fishing when there were only row boats without engines, and many fishermen had been lost to the sea. There are many memorials on the islands dedicated to those who were never returned.

What  brave souls they were, and still are in my estimation. Even though the boats are loaded with technology, and highly trained fishermen, it’s still a rolling, roaring sea where they fish to bring food to the world.

Sheep wander and swing their long coats over the hills and some far up on the slopes, and you can’t help but wonder how they keep from rolling down the hillside.

Speaking of sheep, Arngrim and I were at the top of a hill, when a mother and two lambs walked toward us.

“They must think we’re the farmer and will give them food,” he said.

After they looked at us for awhile, they assumed we weren’t who they thought we were and they turned and walked away. I just know  it’s not my imagination but I’m sure I saw a disappointed look on the mother’s face.

Then today I accompanied Arngrim and his family to his brother, Runi’s home and his brother’s  wife Helen, to a party honoring the close birthdays of their two children.

I took advantage of the view from the deck of their home and shot some photos of the harbor, and both sides of the fjord, in the town of Fuglafjord.

The house is only a few years old with a design, I find, not only open, light and attractive, but with a practical front entrance-way. There people take off their shoes and leave them, and above that small room is a shelf with many wool sweaters, hats and other warm outer wear.

Runi said the room had a door added between the living room and the entrance room to keep the wind from blowing cold air into the house, a perfect solution to keep the house warm during the cold winter winds.

On the road in front of their house you can view a grass roofed summer home and a waterfall. I have included a photo of that for today.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the athletes in the family and their impressive achievements and winnings.

It was a day of wonder in the beauty of the Islands and the beauty of this family.


OOps! temperature check on fish recipe please read

Yesterday’s fish recipe should read 350 degrees, not 390 degrees.



Faroese family and recipe


Since June 11, after my long stay in Iceland, I have been a guest of Per and Eldrid Jacobsen and their son, and my good friend (and former flight instructor)  Arngrim on the Faroese Island of Esturoy. I have seen Arngrim’s brother Runi, and Sister Eyo Venned, and several of his nieces and nephews coming in and out of the house, and some of the grandchildren have spent the night.

Tonight I was fortunate to be invited to Arngrim’s sister-in-law, Anna Jacobsen’s beautiful home that over looks the fjord. She is married to Arngrim’s brother, Meinhard. Over a traditional type dessert – more on food later – I heard all about Anna’s very pretty daughter Maria Meinhardsdottir’s, education to become a physician. She was heading back to school tomorrow and a goodbye party was planned for her. Her husband is also studying medicine.

“We have a close family – and we live near each other. All of my cousins and close friends that I have grown up with stay in touch. My cousins are my best friends,” Maria said. And she also had a close friend visiting with her. That was Judith Signhild Finnsson and she explained that she, too is heading back to school where she is working on a family and human services degree in Chicago, the city where her boyfriend also attends college.

This gathering is typical of what I have seen among the Faroese people and the close knit families. A traditional delicious cake and other lovely dishes were served.

In the middle of the day today, when they have their largest meal, Elrid cooked a dish, I’m calling Sunfrid Jacobsen’s Fish Casserole. Sunfrid is Arngrim’s sister-in-law. It’s a fish dish, easy to prepare with a mouth-watering blend of ingredients. Arngrim translated the ingredients and changed the measuring units.

I am presenting it here for you to enjoy:

Sunfrid Jacobsen’s Fish Casserole

Approximately two pounds of fish (Cod was used Eldrid’s kitchen) placed into a casserole dish. Salt and pepper the fish.

Combine the following ingredients:

3 Tbs. oil

1 Cup cream

1/3rd Cup mustard

4 Tbs. ketchup

1 tsp. curry

1 tsp. vinegar

Pour over the fish and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve over rice or potatoes.

Here is a pretty Faroese girl. Arngrim’s niece


The good times have begun in the Faroes

The Faroe Islands between Iceland and Norway are composed of eighteen Islands, with seventeen of them inhabited. On the way to Arngrim’s home in  Soldarfjordur on the Island of Esturoy, from the Vagar Airport located in Sorvagur, we drove through the Vestmannasund, one of the subsea tunnels that go right under the sea, and then we drove through two regular tunnels.

All along the one hour drive, I saw sheep of many colors, an ancient breed native to the Islands, and charming farms, some with grassy roof tops. Well, heck the whole Island is charming in many special ways.

There are harbors where fishermen take their boats out to sea, as they have for centuries, and there are  fjords bordered by tall table top mountains, with emerald green grass below that showcases the stone ribbons that circle the top of the cliffs.

Birds; there were many birds to see, and those I can see right out of the kitchen window across the fjord to the Skali Village. Big fishing boats are in every harbor. Today, Arngrim took me on a drive to other villages. I have taken many photos and display some of them here:  houses that I found particularly charming and the Russian ships in the harbor.

Arngrim’s parents Per and Eldrid,  take care of their grandchildren during some days, and at the same time, they perform the coziest atmosphere you could ever desire. Arngrim is the most loved uncle to his nieces and nephews.

Most everything is perfect, however, there was a glitch in the day when I went inside a bank to exchange Icelandic krona’s for Faroese money and was refused. According to the bank teller, Iceland’s finances are not financially secure yet to take the risk of exchanging them. Well, thanks to Arngrim, he will buy them from me, and use them in Iceland, on his many flights into Reykjavik.


flying with my favorite pilot

I got into the Icelandic domestic airport and there he was. My favorite pilot and instructor, Arngrim Jacobsen was walking into the bedlam where passengers were getting checked in to fly to the Faroe Islands.

We greeted with a hug and he led me all the way into the plane. What a privilege that is to walk into the plane with the pilot!

He had co-piloted Atlantic Airways into Reykjavik, and would make the return trip, but this time with his student from Durango Air Service,  from way back in 1994…me!

It was thrilling to be asked to sit in the cockpit during the last twenty minutes and observe the action that kept Johan, the Captain and Arngrim  busy getting the plane ready for the landing, which meant changing landing directions to fly into the airstrip from another way than usual, due to winds. It seemed as though there were a myriad of instruments to check, unlike anything in a small two seater Cessna.

Being in the cockpit and seeing the view is amazing.  There were cliffs and huge rock mountains on both sides of our path, and the close proximity of those rocks to the airplane took my breath away.

Then we flew into a valley and over the roof tops of the village houses and made a perfect landing.

After all the passengers left, Arngrim and Johan finished with their reports and paper work, I left again with Arngrim, got my luggage and walked past the fussiness of customs and to his car.

He lives an hour away from the airport and while we were driving he told me he had taken the time off from work to be with me during my time in the Faroes. What a guy!

We got to his home and I saw again his wonderful parents, Per and Eldrid, their wonderful grandchildren, and had a great fish dinner. It’s been five years, we all agreed since I was in their home with my friend Marilyn McCord.

On the way to the airport, I took some photos from the bus. It was the very, very last time I’d be seeing it, so I couldn’t waste a moment.

Happy Days ahead!