TORSHAVN, FAROE ISLANDS - Pass me the whale blubber, please,” I asked my fellow tourist on our visit to the private home of natives Ejvind and Dorota Mouritsen in this capital town of 16,000. The traditional delicacy — black, dried whale meat — is served on a slice of cold boiled potato, with a tiny translucent slice of whale blubber on top. Because whales are mammals — not fish — there is no fishy taste.
Their traditional diet must be OK — the Faroese have one of the highest life expectancies on Earth in one of the remoter places on earth: North of Scotland, nearer Iceland and the Arctic Circle. This is Viking land. The cruise, which was very difficult to find, sails only once a year to four island chains — because of capricious weather even in summer — and the faraway Faroes location.
We were 12 Americans among 700 British and Scottish passengers. The charming Mouritsens welcomed our small group to their beautiful whitewashed- inside home overlooking the fierce and dark Norwegian sea — as a program sponsored by the Cruise and Maritime Voyages company. I’m pleased to notice increased Home Visit offerings in all countries in recent years. It rounds out travel beyond monuments, bars, shopping and landscapes.
Ejvind runs a tour service. Dorota counsels people with alcohol addiction. In native dress of black wool with colorful embroidered shawl, Dorota sang a song set to Faroese classic poetry. Faroese describe themselves as “an autonomous country within the Danish Kingdom.” They have a difficult language based on Old Norse and unique postage stamps, which are collector’s items.
The couple waxed eloquent about their recent trip to Italy: raving about the bright sunshine and gregarious Italian personality. Even though Torshavn is small — 16,000 — the shopping is good, with beautiful knit items. Many sports are offered including kayaking, bird watching and hiking. In the afternoon, we set off to even remoter parts of the island, which boasts the only bridge over the Atlantic Ocean. Impossible? A good trivia question.
Back in Torshavn, we did a walking tour of Tinganes historic area’s narrow streets and historic buildings. One of the most remarkable sights is homeowners on their roof with lawn mowers. Many homes still feature sod roofs anchored by specially cut and treated white birch branches. The dirt and grass protect and hold heat against the fearsome nine month winters.