We departed the capital Torshavn almost as early as we had planned and on guard in case the small ferry linking Klaksvik – the nation's second city – to the neighboring island of Kalsoy might not arrive for all candidates.
At 8:45, after more than an hour of trip through the geological stepping stone from which the Faroes are made, still in the rain, we reach the port. We are the third in line for vehicles to board.
With a place both on the podium and on the boat assured, sleepy with fatigue and yet another early riser, we lay down the benches, activate the telephone alarms and let ourselves sleep.
When we wake up again, just before ten, there are already seven cars in line for the M/F Sam ferry, still way off the sixteen limit. All were rented, driven by foreigners. We park ours according to the instructions of the usher on duty. We then climbed onto the platform for passengers and captain.
The Smooth Crossing to Kalsoy Aboard the M/F Sam Ferry
The M/F Sam, a kind of artillery raft, sets out into the smooth sea that fills the fjord where the city was installed. It leaves the island of Bordoy behind and begins the crossing to Sydradadur, the destination port on the island of Kalsoy. We sailed through waters protected by the insular whims of the Faroese territory, which the almost absence of wind kept smooth.
We enjoyed Klaksvik's houses as the distance and fog reduced it to almost nothing. When that same length has blurred the margins, we pay a visit to the bridge.
A woman with Asian features was chattering with the commander in Faroese, in a drawn-out dialogue that left us more and more intrigued. Finally, the lady senses that we also wanted to speak to the commander and approaches us as a passing proselytizing testimony. “Go to Kallur, right? At noon there is mass in Mikladalur. If you can, join us.” We appreciate the invitation but that's it.
The Faroese-Portuguese Connection of Commander Sámal Petur Grund
We approached the commander, a man in his early sixties with white hair and mustache and vivid blue eyes. Sámal Petur Grund, as he was called, wasted no time finding out where we came from. "From Portugal? Seriously? We don't see many of you here! Be welcome.
You know that I have a huge admiration for Portugal, in fact… it's even possible that I exist because of Portugal. Why? Look, during the 60s and 70s my father made his living fishing for cod here in the Faroe, Iceland and Greenland and selling it to Portugal.
He is no longer alive but as far as I know you continue to eat cod in incredible amounts.” We confirm your assumption and prolong the conversation as long as we can. Not a lot.
From Sydradadur to Trollanes, tunnel after tunnel
Sydradadur was approaching. The captain found himself on the verge of mooring, and we were urgently needed to get down to the car in time to disembark and unlock the rest.
A few minutes later, we were walking along the coastal road that runs from the southern tip to the northern tip of the island, in a spontaneous caravan formed by all the cars that were on board.
Like so many other islands in the archipelago, successive tectonic movements and erosion have creased the slender Kalsoy. As such, only a succession of rustic mountain tunnels allowed us all to reach Trollanes, the last stop on the road and the starting point for the hike we were about to inaugurate.
A final tunnel leaves us facing a wide, green valley. Trollanes appeared huddled in a nook by the sea. Gifted with a much more favorable weather than the one we had had until then, we decided to leave it for the return.
The Dazzling-Green Walk between Trollanes and Kallur
We stopped at a car park located at the beginning of the path to Kallur, a muddy trail that started by climbing a slope by natural steps.
We pause the march at the top of this first slope. From there, we contemplate the valley and the rugged coastline in panoramic format. We also glimpse the distant contours of Kunoy, the island to the east, lost in the vastness of the Norwegian Sea.
We resumed the trail. For a long time, it undulates along a new half-slope until it starts to ascend to the coastal heights we were looking for. At that time, as is supposed in the Faroe Islands, we came across sheep delivered to their endless pastures.
Some are black, some are brown, some are gray, some are quite off-white, and some are mottled. Accustomed to foreign incursions in that domain, the sheep despise them. Unlike the almost abundant oystercatchers that break out in a hellish shriek whenever we approach their nests.
The Lighthouse of Kallur, at last, in sight
Having conquered a new slope, finally, we find the white and red lights of Kallur. Contrary to what we expected, the structure impressed us with its insignificance, as if surrendered to the grassy and jagged, rocky and marine grandeur of the surrounding scenery.
All of a sudden, the northwestern tip of Kalsoy gains arms of land that enter the sea in different directions. The lighthouse appears on an edge with deadly precipices both to one side and to the other. We had already read about the dangers and risks of exploring Kallur. Still, the vertigo surprised us.
We were not the first passengers on the M/F Sam to arrive there. A young British couple took their shots at a high pace, pressed by the strong likelihood that the low clouds held back by the half-rocky half-grass cliff that jutted out above the lighthouse would ambush us.
Ten minutes later, we see them leave the high isthmus on which the lighthouse was located and travel along a competing crest, much longer. We immediately took our turn.
Tiptoeing, with as much care as I am afraid and avoiding peeking at the precipices that threatened us on both sides, we reached the prominent and almost vertiginous point, from where it was possible to photograph the lighthouse with that cliff in the background.
But a few frantic photos later, the clouds did begin to pour in and the rain intensified. We immediately remembered that, if the journey had already been complicated, what would the return be, with the mist and the downpour hiding and muddying that slippery razor's edge even more.
Kallur's Complicated Meteorological Caprices
Okay, as carefully as we had come, but with our legs already shaking from the adrenaline, we reversed our way to the lighthouse. We take shelter behind its façade protected from the rain, regain our calm and wait.
In the meantime, a Chinese couple arrives with a child and they realize that they can't see anything around them. They waited five minutes and gave up.
From the meteorological experience we have already had from so many years of travel and photography, we were almost absolutely sure that those low clouds wouldn't last much longer. This prognosis came to be confirmed.
A sudden breeze lifted the white cloak over the sea and left the following clouds once more trapped behind the cliff.
Alone in that battle against time and the elements, we regained our courage. Even if it slipped twice as much, we again challenged the lethal trail. Luckily, the clouds hesitated for nearly forty minutes. In that mercy, we took all the photos we wanted: from the pedestal, the lighthouse and even the slope below that the partial incline and the grass cover allowed us to descend a good few meters without falling into a more than certain marine death.
Return to Rural Security of Trollanes
No sooner had the fog resumed its invasion than we surrendered to the evidence. We packed the equipment in the backpacks and inaugurated the return to Trollanes.
When we get there, we no longer see a trace of the other foreigners. We have a peek at a walled plantation of rhubarb, the only vegetable that the Faroese are able to grow outdoors. We passed a traditional wooden house where we saw the residents through the kitchen window, as they could see us.
Outside, lined up on top of the box of a pick-up truck, four Faroese sheepdogs waited impatiently for their owners to leave their homes and take them to the work of the sheep of their satisfaction.
Until then, we hadn't met any of the 75 inhabitants of Kalsoy that we decided not to waste that opportunity. Unexpectedly, a child about three or four years old came out of the house. The dogs sensed that the owners were about to arrive and began to bark.
The child was frightened by our unexpected photographic presence and by the frenzy of the dogs. He returned to the protection of the home.
We approached the dogs and tried to pet them. But, smart as these sheepdogs are, by that time they would have realized that we were disturbing the routine of the owners leaving for the field. One of them got angry and threatened a bite. The parties stopped there.
Most of the rural Faroese are somewhat averse to tourists who invade their villages with cameras at the ready. This family didn't even leave the house while we were circling around.
We investigated a little more of the tiny Trollanes and we were enchanted by a stone chicken coop that a flock of apprehensive chickens skirted in one direction and the other, depending on which facade we appeared.
Then, we left the valley of Trollanes to the blaring soundtrack of six or seven oystercatchers claiming the exclusivity of its roadside.
In Search of the Seal Woman of Kópakonan
We backtrack south of Kalsoy, with the hours counted to catch M/F Sam's last crossing of the day towards Klaksvik.
On the way, we stopped at Mikladalur, the largest village on the island, also situated in a large U-shaped valley.
Instead, we went down to the village's deep seaside and enjoyed the amphibious statue that justified the stop for almost every visitor.
The tide was low. The sea remained relatively calm considering the wild swell that beat that coastline made of cliffs on the worst days of storm. Kopakonan, the seal woman, thus stood out dryly from the rock base that supported her, as solid as the tradition of folkloric legends from the Faroe Islands.
In fact, his statue pays homage to one of the nation's best-known and intricate legends, in such a complex and long way that we will have to tell it the next time we return to Kalsoy.