Torshavn, the capital of the Faroes and our base for a week, is a sleepy little place with a mixture of traditional grass roofed buildings and more modern Skandi-influenced architecture.
The ‘city’ of 13,000 people is arranged in a semi-circle around the harbour, spreading upwards away from the water towards the mountains that encircle it.
The most exciting thing about it is that it was named for the god of Thunder, Thor.
There are few cars, and drivers seem to give priority to pedestrians not only if you are on one of the many pedestrian crossings, but also if you are just dithering and look like you might want to cross the road at some point. We keep having to cross the road, when actually we simply want to consult the map.
Out to sea, the island of Nolsoy sits directly opposite Torshavn, a big hunk of land rising straight out of the water with little sign of habitation, although there are ferries few times a day. We are told there is a café/bar/restaurant open a few days a week, which makes it quite a metropolis in the Faroes.
We have a tourist map, one of those colourful maps with symbols scattered approximately in the area what they represent can be found. We spent a good half hour searching for the ‘bus terminal’, as the symbol was a bit along from the ferry terminal, before realising that the bus terminal was actually a couple of empty bays at the ferry terminal where the bus would turn up on schedule.
This of course makes sense, in real life if not on the map, and in fact the public transport system here is incredibly integrated – buses run to a schedule which factors in ferry or plane arrival times and school times, minibuses link up with main buses at various points so there is no waiting for connections to smaller villages, main buses on different routes coincide at certain points at particular times so passengers can transfer easily, and around the main towns there are free buses running a circular route regularly throughout the day.
Above the ferry terminal is an old fort, and some WWII cannons the British left behind. There’s not much up there, but some fantastic views out to sea.
There is also a cathedral, suitably sized for the population it serves.
The harbour area is still very much a working harbour, with lots of fishing trawlers and ferries to various places. Seems pretty desolate at this time of year though.
To be honest, that’s about as much as I can say about Torshavn. Its lovely but definitely not what you’d think of as a capital city. More a sleepy fishing town that is pleasant to wander round, and a good base for further travels. I’d imagine it’d be far busier in summer but we quite enjoyed wandering round having it practically to ourselves.
Next up – The northern islands and Klaksvik, the ‘capital of the North’….