Almost every village on Faroe Islands has a church, a cemetery, and a public toilet. I believe that the public toilets are for tourists and the rest is for locals. For a while, I was wondering why each tiny village in a very small country needs a church and a cemetery but after visiting several of them in row I think I started to understand. Faroe Islands consist of mountainous islands, and all of the villages and towns are located in the valleys between those mountains. Thus, even though the villages are geographically close to each other, getting to a neighboring village was quite a challenge before all the modern roads and tunnels were built. It might have become quite a challenge to walk 3-4 hours to a church on the other side of the mountain and then walk back. Imagine the same affair but with a dead body… Well, this is just my theory, the real reasons could be different.
We started our 5th day on Faroe Islands by visiting Tjørnuvík, the northernmost village on Streymoy. Originally, we planned to walk from Tjørnuvík to Saksun, but the rainy weather made us change our plans. Instead, we spent some time at Tjørnuvík’s cafe and tourist shop. We found out about the cafe from a small poster on the door of the public toilets. Odd, but if you think deeper, a very effective way for a cafe advertisement. Well, the advertisement was actually about coffee and waffles, but we just assumed that there should be a cafe.
In reality, the cafe turned out to be an open-air vendor type of venture on what appeared to be the center of the village. It consisted of a case with shelves and a picnic-style table. A coffee carafe, a waffle maker, and some other necessities — basic but cute. The owner was a cheerful man in a traditional Faroese hat.
Despite the nice atmosphere, I was reluctant to sit down and try the food because of the persistent light rain. Apparently, the cafe owner was prepared and had a stack of folding cushions for the customers to sit on. Plus, Alex really wanted waffles. I, on the other hand, wanted to go to the only other business on the square (and in the whole village), a souvenir shop. Actually, the only authentic souvenir shop I saw on our trip (there are probably others but we just didn’t find them). I struck a deal: Alex was to go get waffles and I was to go get souvenirs. I scored a nice sheep’s horn. A woman in the shop did not speak any English but was able to explain to me that when you go up the mountains, you take this horn with you to fill with water from creeks and drink. A nice and useful gadget, I thought.
Now, when I’m writing this, I think that Tjørnuvík was one of the most intriguing and beautiful places we visited on Faroe Islands. I wish we spent more time exploring surrounding mountains.
Our next destination was the Saksun village. It is only about 7 km from Tjørnuvík if one hikes, but about 27 km by car. It was too rainy to hike so we drove and spent more time hiking around and exploring Saksun.
Saksun is an even smaller settlement than Tjørnuvík but somewhat similar in a sense that it is also located in a valley enclosed by ragged mountains with cascading streams. However, Saksun does not directly face the sea, so it feels more cozy. A natural, shallow water lagoon contributes to the serene feel of the place.
Saksun is a very old settlement that probably dates back to 15th century, and the farm in the village has been owned by the same family since the 17th century. We skipped the opportunity to visit the local museum in favor of a walk along the lagoon beach to the ocean.
Saksun has a very well situated, picturesque church that actually was an old church from Tjørnuvík which was disassembled and brought to Saksun over the mountain pass.
Kirkjubøur is probably the most historically significant village in Faroe Islands. It houses the ruins of St. Magnus Cathedral, 12th century St. Olav’s church and a wooden house Kirkjubøargarður (one of the oldest still-inhabited houses in the world).
Kirkjubøargarður is a farm (called King’s Farm). A single family has been living there for generations starting from 1550. It is still a working farm even though a part of it is designated to be a museum. It is a very pleasant site to visit especially when there are no other people around. We came after hours and had it all to ourselves.
Another gem of Kirkjubøur village is Koks, a very nice restaurant. We had the pleasure of dining there that evening.
When we finally came home that day, we found this pretty horse by the parking lot near our house.