Saksun, StreymoyFaroe Islands

The Faroese Village That Doesn't Want to be Disneyland


Off Keeping
Faroese isolation
river in fall
Duvugardar Church
one more warning
Cascade Duo
Duvugardar and Lake Pollurin
Sheep on the way
Sheep and Waterfall
more sheep than people
The Unwanted Tourists
people of the house
Saksun is one of several stunning small villages in the Faroe Islands that more and more outsiders visit. It is distinguished by the aversion to tourists of its main rural owner, author of repeated antipathies and attacks against the invaders of his land.

Saksun was even well-groomed in a northwest corner of the Faroe's main island, Streymoy, in a sort of antipode to capital Torshavn.

The village appears inland, sheltered between two lakes. On the edge of a black sand beach and the North Atlantic arm that bathes it.

The village appeared for the first time in writing, in 1400. They recorded the tragedy that the Black Death had victimized a good part, if not all of its inhabitants.

Two centuries passed. The successive atrocious storms that shake the icy ocean offshore, have dragged so much sand to the coast and the interior of the fjord that they blocked its exit to the sea. What was once a providential natural harbor has become a brackish lagoon, usable only during high tide and by small boats.

Unable to use safer boats, and without a church and priest in their village, the villagers were forced to cross the mountains and use the Tjornuvík, almost at the northern end of Streymoy.

So it was until June 1858, when the church was inaugurated, that the people of Saksun decided to dismantle it in Tjornuvík, load it in portions and reassemble it in Saksun, with several structural and decorative changes.

Henceforth, the villagers were able to live in the even more sacred peace of God.

The Asphalt Road and a Growing Flow of Outside Visitors

This peace lasted until the arrival of the tourism phenomenon in the Faroe Islands. Road number 53, which made it accessible from Hvalvik and from the middle of the great Sundini fjord, proved to be both a blessing and a second curse.

Dazzled by the grandiose and eccentric beauty of the archipelago, the pioneering foreigners began to spread the word. Summer after summer, more arrived, almost all of them, like us, behind the wheel of rented cars and committed to discovering the main islands, from side to side, from top to bottom.

From the 80s onwards, Saksun was also affected by this fever.

The village was not included in the initial program that the Faroese tourism authorities gave us.

After realizing the importance that conventional and online travel guides attributed to it, we found this absence strange. We decided to go there.

We traveled direct from Tórshavn. First to Signabour. Then east coast of the island of Streymoy above, always overlooking the sister island of Eysturoy.

After passing Hvalvík, finally, we take the road 53. We turn towards the valley of the river Storá (the Great River).

The road follows the meanders of the river.

And the river rises at the entrance of Saksun. Even if it were because 53 was the only and very narrow road, we couldn't go wrong.

Saksun's Rewarding Vision

After almost half an hour of grassy, ​​yellowish, mossy and soaked landscape, colonized by geese, ducks and other migratory birds, even before the village, we find a mandatory car park.

There we left the car, glad to be back in pedestrian mode.

We noticed that, at its end, the valley rounded off around the silted up Pollurin lake. That a waterfall was furrowing its eastern slope, in an almost diagonal stream of white. Even before that, a nearby waterfall followed its own path.

From where we saw it, it seemed to disappear among the grass-roofed houses in the heart of the village.

In fact, it ran alongside them, along a bed cut by the predominant grass, which led to another entrance to the lake.

We walk in this spell of the bucolic simplicity of Saksun, when a tiny flock of sheep appears out of nowhere, walking along the L of asphalt that crosses the houses of this nucleus of Dúvugardar (Quinta do Rei).

Built in the XNUMXth century but still active, it is a breeding and breeding place for around three hundred sheep.

In the absence of residents, we think that the sheep would serve as a perfect scale for the village.

We accelerated the pace, determined to follow the animals.

In the photographic enthusiasm, we don't even notice a yellow ribbon, a mere eight or thirty centimeters high.

Without being aware that we were doing so, we advanced a meter or two towards the grass, from where it seemed more appropriate to continue photographing the sheep and the white church that blesses Saksun.

Just outside the parking lot, an old, dented red van had almost run over us, with the rear window missing and the fuel cap broken.

And the Withering and Furious Apparition of Johán Jógvansson

For the moment, we decided to consider the absurd speed at which it appeared to be mere bad luck. Without us expecting it, the same conductor reappears.

He begins to decompose us, exalted, even a little crazy: “who do you think you are? Didn't you see the notice on the post? Next time they cross the line, I'll call the police! This is not Disneyland, we don't want you here!"

The man extended his wrath further and further. At first, we just listened to him and tried to understand where all that was coming from.

When we finally felt him giving of himself, we asked him: “Listen, we don't even know who it is, but we didn't see any warning and this tape is a tiny thing. With the enthusiasm of following the sheep, we didn't realize.

But more importantly, it's good to be aware that if you react like that every time a visitor steps on the grass, you're doomed to have a heart attack. You've seen how many are exploring the village.

Do you think you can control them all? For whatever reason you have, you should start by controlling yourself and solve the rest in another way. So it won't last long.”

Sincere, the alert leaves the interlocutor somewhat moved, even more apprehensive. “Okay, I realize they didn't do it on purpose and I appreciate the warning.

I believe what I'm being told and the truth is that it torments me. I have kids, you know?

But the thing is, as soon as spring comes to an end, we have to deal with this torment.

We gain nothing from the invaded village. Neither did we ask or authorize this to be so.”

Saksun and Johán Jógvansson's Aversion to Tourism

The man was Johán Jógvansson. He was classified by the newspaper "Location – News from the Faroese” as the great farmer of Saksun, long known for his irascible reception of visitors.

He was also the author of the message "this is not Disneyland. Tourists, go Home!” painted in April 2018 on a caravan parked in Saksun. The following month, two visitors complained that he had threatened to kill the dog he was following with them.

Johán had long been at war with the Faroese tourism authorities. He accused them of promoting Saksun and thus annihilating the tranquility and genuineness of their own lives. It was Johan who had been the reason Saksun hadn't even counted on our itinerary.

We accentuate the tone of tranquility and pacification. We promise you not to cross that ribbon again. Johán, in turn, apologizes for the lack of control. He continues to justify himself.

We know that shortly afterwards, members of the Visit Faroe organization met with representatives of the commune of Sunda (of which Saksun is a part), with the aim of coming up with strategies to improve tourism in the village and in the region.

During the long rant, Johán made it clear to us his contempt for tourism in general, which is why we remained skeptical about the success of the embassy.

On the sidelines of the complicated appeasement of Johán and his family, the population of Saksun dwindled.

Recently, from fourteen to eleven, on rainy or thaw days, less than the waterfalls around the village.

Dwellers in Extinction, Tourists in Permanent Invasion

Some of Saksun's deceased are buried in the walled cemetery at the back of the church, made of stone tombstones and wooden crosses.

Tourists, these, increase from year to year. We see them on the slope above Dúvugardar, dazzled by the panoramas and the bucolic magic of the place, given over to endless photos.

Without expecting it, we saw two residents of Saksun who were not Johán.

When we look at them, from a distance, we identify a young woman dressed in black, pushing a baby carriage.

She is led by a herding dog, a Border Collie, hurried but still amused checking the legitimacy of the sheep that grazed on either side of the path.

The trio climbed up to a farmhouse halfway up the slope, set on a strip of smoothed ground.

Johán never bothered to say where he lived. Being the big landowner of Saksun, we concluded that it must be right there and, that walker, his wife.

We later learned that Johán had recently installed an automatic toll road access to the famous Saksun beach. The gate accepted credit card payment.

Access cost 75 Danish kroner (about €10), both for nationals and foreigners. The fine for anyone bypassing the gate was set at 1000 DKK crowns, around €135.

The measure aroused controversy. Johán argued that it was unfair for tourist agencies and guides to earn money by revealing to tourists lands on which he spent and continues to spend large sums.

His will was, in part, done.

Saksun will never be a Disneyland. Johán's comparison served the purpose of dramatizing and facilitating his goals.

If it ever becomes a Disneyland, it will at least be a paid Faroese Disneyland.

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