The Faroe Islands & Iceland - island hopping in the North Atlantic in the wintertime
Once Upon a Saga:
Island hopping in the North Atlantic in the wintertime - it's a tricky business.
Welcome back and happy New Year!! Ah yes, I left you all in Scotland back in 2013. But the future is NOW! :) Just to bring you up to speed really quick I was invited to spend Christmas with the lovely Nadya (bartender at my Edinburgh hostel) and her girlfriends...and other people. How do you say no to that. Nadya is amazing! It was a very nice Christmas even though the heating broke a few hours before the guests were due to arrive. Funny thing; I was speaking to one of the other guest doing the standard "where do you come from and where do you work" routine. He worked at Starbucks and as coincidence had it I went to that exact Starbucks earlier the same day and he more than likely served me my tea (Yes! I drink tea at Starbucks). Anyway...earlier we were complete strangers and now we were completely by chance sharing a Christmas meal learning about this fact. I wonder how often that kind of stuff happens without us knowing about it?
My lovely Girlfriend then flew in to Edinburgh and we had the days between Christmas and New Years in what is rapidly becoming "our city". Scotland was country number 10 on this journey and she also flew to Edinburgh back then in October when I was in Scotland the first time. After she flew back to Denmark I left for Inverness for New Year. Inverness is in the Highlands and near Loch Ness. Funny thing about Loch Ness; even though I realize that there can't possibly be a large sea creature in Loch Ness I can certainly say that I have never before looked so much at the surface of any lake...ever! :) It's like when someone says "don't look down". You just can't help it :)
New Year's Eve was fun. I spent it at the hostel with some of the other guests. We ended up drinking alcohol and playing a version of 'truth or dare' which lead to some interesting pictures the following day...
New Years Eve - champagne, lipstick and tongue
Finally the day arrived when the good ship 'Silver Fjord' would arrive in Scotland again. The 'Silver Fjord' was the ship that should have brought me to the Faroe Islands in late December. But it was redirected and I got "stuck" in Scotland and my girlfriend's flight to Iceland was changed to Edinburgh. But this time was different. I got on the bus to Scrabster which is very far up north in Scotland. And then she arrived!! The crew was a mix of Ukrainians and Russians and I was treated first class once again!! The 'Silver Fjord' is a reefer which means that it is a refrigerated cargo ship. And this was my ride to Torshavn in the Faroe Islands.
Between Scotland and Faroe Islands onboard Silver Fjord
In very short terms: I will probably never become a sailor. I belong on land.
Aaaahhh, the Faroe Islands. Do you know that feeling of belonging somewhere? We have come a long way since October 10th 2013. I have seen many countries, met thousands of people and enjoyed an astonishing amount of new impressions. Once in a while I come across a place where I think to myself; I could live here. That is the Faroe Islands for me.
Sportigan (a solid chain of sports equipment stores: www.sportigan.dk) set me up with a hotel room for 2 nights. So that was nice :) They also arranged for me to get on the local radio station: www.in.fo/news-detail/news/kring-heimin-uttan-at-flugva/. And I happened to mention on the radio that Sportigan had a sale :)
The cutest Red Cross office so far, Torshavn, Faroe Islands
Torshavn is the capital of the Faroe Islands and in Torshavn the busses are free. Not free of a schedule...but free of charge. That is an interesting concept! However the place is pretty small so I managed to out-walk the bus a few times. There is also a prison which at the time had 7 prisoners. The thing is that the Faroe Islands are a series of small volcanic islands and the population is roughly 50,000. So if you decide that crime is the way for you...then you are VERY likely to get caught. There is nowhere to go and everybody would know that it was you. I like that.
It was also on the Faroe Islands that the country count went up to 203 countries. We decided to count The Faroes and Greenland as separate countries although they are a part of the Danish Kingdom. It just doesn't make any sense not to. Once Upon a Saga already counted Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland as 3 separate countries although they are all a part of the UK. But more importantly; The Faroe Islands have their own currency, language, culture, history, traditions, flag, cuisine, humor and much more. They even have home rule. So calling the Faroe Islands "Denmark" becomes very political and highly technical. Greenland even more so. And that is how the Faroe Islands came to become country number 39 in Once Upon a Saga.
Leaving the Faroe Islands felt wrong and unfinished. But what are you going to do when you are visiting every country in the world? A one month stay in each country would amount to a full 16 years. I guess I'll be back some day.
Blue Water Shipping (www.bws.dk) stepped up and sponsored the passage from the Faroe Islands to Iceland. Blue Water Shipping runs the cargo part of the large ship 'Norröna'. It is part cargo vessel and part passengers. In the wintertime they do not take passengers because of the unpredictable weather conditions and often rough seas. 'Norröna' has 1482 beds and we were only 2 passengers onboard. So we had a whole lot of boat to ourselves :) I saw 4 movies in the onboard cinema and we ate with the crew. The Captain even invited me up on the bridge and he turned out to be a really cool guy. The bridge on this boat was a lot larger than on any of the other two I have seen so far.
Between Faroe Islands and Iceland. On the bridge of Norröna.
This was a big boat. And we had good sea conditions. And I'll say again: I will probably never become a sailor. I belong on land.
This land used to be 100% Viking territory. And perhaps it still is today? Iceland is far larger than what I thought. It turns out that the largest glacier is about the same size as most of Denmark. So when I booked a hostel in Reykjavik but landed in Seydisfjordun (which is on the opposite side of Iceland) I was dead wrong to expect that I had a short ride ahead of me! I was able to get a ride with one of Blue Water's trucks and the ride took about 10 hours. But after that I had covered Iceland from east to west.
Trucking with Grimur
The truck driver, Grimur, was top friendly which now is looking like an Icelandic trade. After only about 10 minutes of trucking I realized that I had forgotten my GPS transmitter at a gas station. But no problem; because Grimur simply made a few phone calls and then assured me that the transmitter had been found and would be delivered to Reykjavik the very next day. Then later he pulled over at a truck stop and bought me dinner. How grand is that? While trucking into Reykjavik the night sky was displaying a nice green shade of northern lights and around 2am I found my bed and fell asleep.
The very next day I went out on a hunt for transport to Greenland. I met with many different people and offices and finally located Brim HF who is selling a fishing trawler to Greenland. Everyone I met was helpful!! And I mean everyone! The first thing that really struck me about Iceland is the strong "can do" attitude. Up here you feel like there is nothing that cannot be done.
The Brettingur! My passage to Greenland. Curtesy of Brim HF.
I happen to be in the best hostel I have come across on this journey. And the lovely owner of the 'Bus Hostel Reykjavik' (www.bushostelreykjavik.com) is now supporting Once Upon a Saga by helping out with accommodation. I have met a lot of new people at this hostel and I have made a few new friends. Alex is a great and creative fellow who took interest in the project and is currently working on a short documentary/interview of the journey. I am looking forward to the results already :) Amy from the US and Jenny from (blame) Canada have been fun to hang out with and Jenny put her skills into writing some texts that I needed - it came out great. I met the also very creative Rob from Australia, Sofie from Denmark, Bruna from Brazil, Diego from Brazil and the list goes on and on...I love you all :)
We live in a beautiful world. But we constantly need to remind ourselves of it. If not then it becomes ordinary.
I had a brief meeting with Icelandic Red Cross who deal with earthquakes and volcano eruptions among some of the more different tasks that I have come across. I continue to admire the Red Cross Red Crescent movement and I am proud to carry the emblem throughout the world.
I walked into the local radio/tv station (RÚV) to see if I could find a journalist that was interested. That lead to a TV interview on one of Iceland's prime time television programs: Kastljós. They made me wear makeup for that interview and I honestly do not remember what I said on that show so it will be fun to see when they air it. It all made me a little nervous too :)
I was lucky enough to meet a very amazing Danish woman who is a gifted artist and a genuinely nice person all the way. Her name is Tina Dickow (www.tinadickow.dk) and she is a long time Red Cross supporter. She picked me up after my Kastljós interview and then we went back to her house for coffee and cake :) Back there I met her fiancé Helgi and they treated me like an old friend. After that we made a photo for the Red Cross and then Helgi drove me back to the Bus Hostel. What makes Tina Dickow a little more amazing is that she gave birth to their daughter the very next day ;)
Tina Dickow and I supporting Red Cross! ;)
I have a little more time in Iceland before the 'Brettingur' is ready to sail. She is currently still in dry dock and my departure towards Qaqortoq in Greenland and country number 40 is estimated to take place in the end of January.
The coming days will offer a snowmobile trip on a glacier, snorkeling between tectonic plates, a glacier hike and climb, caving and much more. But I will update you on this in the next blog.
It is worth thinking about how all of this is possible. I have solid sponsors in Ross Engineering and Ross Offshore. They do not only support this project financially but also through moral support. My amazing girlfriend stands behind me every step of the way and that truly makes everything easier. Friends and family are supporting me. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all growing in numbers and everyone I meet relate to the project and take interest one way or the other. Ann-Christina Salquist remains to be a very important part of the project and the Red Cross has been forthcoming in every country.
I increasingly feel like I am doing what I am supposed to do in life. That perhaps sounds predetermined or very large. But what I am trying to say is simply that I enjoy my life, I feel like I am doing something good for the world we live in and even if I'm not...then I'm at least getting the adventure of a lifetime. But how can all of this not be good? Once Upon a Saga inspires people, the Red Cross Red Crescent movement receives a lot of well deserved attention, I am constantly telling people about Ross Engineering and Ross Offshore, I am making new friends, learning about people, cultures, history and I also get to act as a source of sharing people's ideas.
Even if all of this just inspires 1 single person to travel out into the world and meet with a new culture....then I would consider this a success! ;)
Thank you for being with me!
Torbjørn C. Pedersen - smiling my way across the North Atlantic :)