Day 9 – Torshavn

What an absolutely lovely little town. A bit hilly, but the glorious warm sunshine took the edge off of that. Friendly people and pretty buildings. Shame nothing opened until 11.30 except one hotel cafe and one rather expensive clothes shop. Here, virtually all the shops seem to sell postcards and fridge magnets, so we bought ours in the rather expensive clothes shop. So expensive, they didn’t put prices on things. You know the sort. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. I’ve never been in a shop with no prices before. It’s weird.

Torshavn (Thor’s harbour) actually has two harbours, separated by a small but very hilly spit of land. This is where they decided to settle. Humans really are a bit mental sometimes. The old town, therefore, is a collection of wooden buildings, all painted the same burgundy-ish colour, with ground floors built of stone, and grass roofs. It’s ridiculously pretty.

It is apparently one of the smallest capital cities in the world, with a population of around 19,000. Allegedly. I doubt it, to be honest. It’s pretty small. If you want to find it on a map, there are 18 Faroe Islands and Torshavn is on Streymoy. The Faroes were settled by, in roughly chronological order: Irish monks, Vikings, Norway, Denmark, Britain (during the war) and now they are a self-governing overseas territory of Denmark.

So, anyway, we did what we do. We pootled up the one street of shops, we ate in a cafe (and observed the minute’s silence  for Tunisia there), we pootled some more. We visited the touristy shops and marvelled at the prices. We noticed that all the doorsteps are up and over ones – even at the top of the hill. Flooding worries? Thresholds? Or just habit?

The official Tourist Information office in town is also a bookshop and sells stationery and office supplies, as well as the obligatory postcards and tourist items. A school bag cost about eighty quid and a Frozen pencil case is twenty-five quid. But up the road, in the cafe of the public library, a large freshly squeezed orange juice was two pound fifty. There is no logic that I can see to the prices here. T-shirts can vary between nine quid and sixteen quid, which seems a very large gap for the same product 500 yards away. Still, with weather this nice and a town this pretty and friendly, nothing really matters much.

Dad asked how they mow the roofs and the answer was, you climb up a ladder and strim it. So now you know. We had speculated on the possible use of goats or sheep, but apparently not. The humans do it themselves.

Because it was quite hilly, we had to stop quite a few times. Joyfully, this is a town that understands not only the concept of free wifi (including in the taxi?!) but also the importance of the Bench and provides them every few hundred yards. Marvellous. Mum and I did much basking in the sun while Dad went and explored on his own (whilst ostensibly looking for eateries). We ended up by the marina, gazing at the boats and drinking more freshly squeezed orange juice (where do they get all their oranges from?!).

My personal high point was the abundance of public art all over the place, which, as you know, I am very passionate about. The thinking here seems to be “We haven’t had a bench for about 200 yards, let’s put one here. And let’s stick in a sculpture for good measure”. Birds – flying and wading, people, naked dancers, busts of important folk, replica Viking boats, settlers lugging stuff about, even a giant bench. Remember this is a town with a central area consisting of one street (on a hill) between two marinas with bars around the edge. That’s it. That’s quite a lot of public art for such a small space. Even some of the shops had sculptures in! In fact, the roundabout at the top end of the pedestrian precinct had a sculpture in the middle and a stone bench all the way around.  It was odd having cars passing you every few seconds, but it was still a surprisingly pleasant place to stop and sit.

Back on board, there was a smell of engine fumes in my cabin.  I reported it three times over the space of an hour before anyone came to investigate (other than a deck supervisor with, apparently, no sense of smell!). When I got back after dinner, the room now smells of strawberries. I’m going to call this an improvement, as I don’t think the smell of strawberries can be considered poisonous, whereas exhaust fumes almost certainly can, but it’s a very odd smell to have permeating my bedroom, just the same! The question is, is it masking the fumes or replacing them? And I am saddened that it takes three separate calls to get action on something so potentially serious. After all, I have an internal cabin. I have no other source of air other than the air con. If that is spewing carbon monoxide and/or dioxide into my cabin, it could, conceivably, kill me if left unattended for long enough.  I would have expected it to be taken a lot more seriously than it was. Definitely worth a mention in the end of cruise customer satisfaction survey. Can’t allow that kind of lackadaisical attitude go uncommented.

Dad and I then had to organise tomorrow (Kirkwall in the Orkneys), as he and I are going on an excursion to Skara Brae, whilst mum is going on a different one to look for sea birds. The logistics are surprisingly messy.  I think we have it sorted now, but I have a horribly early start to look forward to.

Film update: Saving Mr Banks. Delightful. Funny, sad, shed a tear and clapped. Quite the emotional rollercoaster, but very enjoyable. The time passed very quickly indeed.

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