Another day, another island (or two!)

Moving hotels again today – this time to the Northern Islands, with a few detours as usual. 

Borðoy and Viðoy

The day dawned bright and sunny, the best weather we’ve seen so far this holiday. The first stop was in Fuglafjørður, a last minute decision as we got to the turn off for the tunnel to Borðoy and so glad we did. A very attractive harbour, a shop selling locally knitted items – and coffee. In proper cups. We sat outside and enjoyed the sun. 

The tunnel between Esturoy and Borðoy is probably the longest we’ve had so far – it was certainly the first with colourful lights in the middle. Made up for the next one that more or less went straight across Borðoy (with a wee gap in the middle) which was the first of our unlit one lane tunnels (with passing places). I’m glad Janine had the first shot.

Lunch was a much sunnier picnic than the previous day, before we went on to Viðoy, the most northerly island. A drive through the newest tunnel, a 2 lit lanes one took us to Viðareiði, the most northerly settlement in the islands. By now, the weather had closed in, the plan to walk to the point you could see both East and West coasts was cancelled. Instead we explored the churchyard and found some fascinating graves.

Driving back towards Borðoy, along old road above the fjord, the sun was back out (maybe it had been out all along on this coast who knows!), so yet more stunning views. Once across the causeway linking the two islands, we headed north, running more or less parallel to the previous road. Múli, at the end of the road, is listed as ‘abandoned’ but it’s clear there are still some residents (according to Wikipedia, they’re former residents who use their houses as summer homes). It’s a stunning location, but it’s easy to see, before the road was laid, how difficult it was to get to / from the village. 

We’re spending the evening in Klaksvik, the largest town in this area. A wander round the town once we’d checked in to the hotel, and found a bar that I could get them to create a chicken salad – but with cheese not chicken. The meal was the best I’ve had so far (they did an amazing salad dressing!) 

An exploration of Eysturoy

No hotel moving today, so it was a round trip we planned. (Well, as round as you can get somewhere with few roads and many interesting places).

The first place today was Elduvik – a very attractive village, though like so many, with a reducing population. Small fishing villages just can’t compete either with the large fishing fleets, or the demands of remote living generally. 

This village, though, did have some life in it, as well as empty houses. The next stop, which was a bit of a drive to see some rather uninspiring ‘rocking stones’ (they sway with the tide, but not much). The drive in was another spectacular one, though, so more than made up for it. Next, it was south to Runuvik, where we managed to find a “real” coffee shop (albeit with rather rubbish coffee) before heading to a lake that was meant to have good birdlife, but the fog meant we didn’t see much. 

We returned to Gjógv, and went for a walk up the hill to see over the village. By now, the mist had cleared, and we had a spectacular view of the valley, village and fjord beyond. There were many birds nesting on the cliffs – we even saw (fleetingly) a pair of puffins 🙂 Our day was made! 

Back down to the village for another coffee, though the size of the (paper) cup made us realise that beer would have been a better option. The evening meal that night was a Faroese buffet. They’re not great at vegetarian food, and Janine wasn’t over impressed with the dried fish or whale blubber … (at least we didn’t get the smoked puffin we’d heard reports of!) 

Tórshavn to Gjógv

So, our first full day. After a quick trip into town, in what I’d call a haar (no idea what they call it here; heavy mist perhaps) we set off. The actual driving distance to our overnight stop wasn’t that far, but we wanted to visit quite a few places en-route. 

The first stop we had was in Hvalsvik, known particularly for its church – the oldest of all the wooden churches in the Faroes. Next on to Saksun, a very attractive setting. This time, it’s particular claim to fame was the setting – above an almost circular lagoon. 

We then headed to Tjørnuvík, passing the only octagonal church (easy to see it) and the highest waterfall in the Faroes, which wasn’t as impressive as we’d hoped. Tjørnuvík was an afterthought, we thought we may as well continue the last few km up the road. We’re so glad we did! It’s in a beautiful location. The water was relatively quiet when we were there, but it faces straight out to the North – and the waves can be huge. It’s apparently a well known surflng location. Across the bay, there are 2 sea stacks; giants turned to stone when they argued. Within the village – a coffee and waffle seller 🙂 

Next, we headed for Eysturoy, via the only bridge over the Atlantic 🙂 Next it was Eiði, (pronounced eye-yuh) another very attractive village. We tried to see the sea stacks from behind – apparently possible here. We didn’t manage to find the vantage point, but we did find (yet another) waterfall, which, for me, was more impressive than the one that was meant to be the biggest. 

The final section was to Gjógv, taking us up high enough to look back over the sea stacks, and to see across one of the many isthmuses (isthmii??) on the islands. Spectacular views as we descended into the village. It’s yet another small village, kept alive, one can’t help but think, due to the Guesthouse, with its coffee shop, and I think they had the campsite as well. 

A fabulous start to the holiday (despite the interesting pudding at dinner … ) 

North to the Faroes.

This time, we’ve headed away from the heat of a Scottish Summer – to the Faroes. Edinburgh is the only place in the UK with direct flights to the Faroes; so we made the most of it! 

After an easy flight, we arrived at the airport – ours was the only plane on the tarmac as we arrived. It’s not the busiest airport in the world!

If you’ve not really come across the Faroes before, they’re North West of Scotland – about halfway to Iceland. They are part of the Kingdom of Denmark – so the Danish Kroner & Faroese Kroner are 1:1 & both can be spent (in both, though few Danish shopkeepers know, apparently). However, like the UK / Channel Islands links with the EU, while Denmark is in the EU, the Faroes aren’t; I’m enjoying only getting online in the hotels – not out and about. 

A single plane on the tarmac

The only plane

After picking up the car, we headed to Tórshavn- the capital. As the Faroes consist of 18 inhabited islands (not sure how may are uninhabited) we had to get from Vagar – where the airport is, to Streymoy – via an undersea tunnel. 

The roads are pretty empty, (sheep are the main danger) – which is always good for the first time driving in a hire car on the wrong side of the road. 

We got rather lost as we approached (the trusty sat nav that covers Western Europe seems to miss out on the Faroes. It knew Tórshavn was the nearest town, but totally bemused about how to get there. Lack of internet on the phone (it being far too pricey outside the EU), meant we had to rely on paper maps! (That weren’t very accurate). Luckily, the place is tiny, and Janine had a rough idea of the side of the town we should have been on – so we figured it out. 

The hotel had wonderful views towards Nolsoy, a small island off the coast. We, however, headed off to find our first meal. It was a tasty meal, albeit one with somewhat haphazard service. Two meals arrived, but it transpired they’d muddled two orders up; so Janine’s and another woman’s meal came; while my lentil steak & the other woman’s friend’s lentil steak had been forgotten (along with the cheese for Janine’s cheeseburger. The two lentil steaks arrived, just as two more women were ordering – another lentil steak, while her friend wanted the felafel. As we were about to leave, the chef popped out to say to her … we’re out of felafels – would chicken do instead? She wasn’t veggie, so it would. As we left, her friend was still waiting for the lentil steak. 

Meals aside, it’s a very attractive small capital, the smallest in Europe, if you exluded places like San Marino & the Vatican. They’ve got the famous grass roofed houses right in the city centre; and it’s so quiet. 


Flag of the Faroes

Small boats in the harbour. In the background, houses including some with grass roofs

Tórshavn Harbour


Treviso and the river Sile

Another cloudy day, but as it was a city day, not so bad. We headed for Treviso, the largest city in the area. We had a city tour, starting in the area that’d been bombed during the war, but there were a few older buildings. As we went through the city, the balance of old and new moved to the older. There wasn’t the large square I’ve seen in some cities, it was there, but subdued. They had a lot of sculptures around the city, including one that had only been installed about a week before we’d arrived. 

After the city tour, a bit of shopping (I decided to acquire a very unglamorous plastic mac, as my “waterproof” top wasn’t entirely), then lunch; before heading off for a walk along the river Sile, which has a lot of wildlife. There was also an area where old boats, no longer in use for transport have been abandoned. A very pleasant walk (and dry, no need yet for my new mac!) 

The heart of the Prosecco area.

Today was going to be a day in the heart of the processo region. Where the best grapes grow. Unfortunately for us, one of the key factors is lots of rain …

It was a very wet day. We started out in the rain – never the best way to start a walk. Ignoring the inviting coffee shop, we headed up a hill, pausing in someone’s garage when it was just too wet. The “elevenses” place was actually just a sheltered area, with no coffee. So, a decision was made to retreat to the staring point, head into the coffee shop & get the bus back to the hotel, abandoning the rest of the walk.

Later, we went back (in the bus) to where we would have had lunch; it was a ‘pub with no host’ – a small farmhouse where you could select your own goodies, and an honesty box. It also featured just up the hill, the famous processo machine. Which we tested, of course.

Finally, we had a visit to a winery, to see the machinery (there wasn’t anything really exciting happening at this time of year, as it was either in the fermentation tanks, or in the bottles – but they told us all about what happens during the rather short season for the main part of the process. Unlike Champagne the 2nd fermentation, which is under pressure is large tanks. (Champers does it in the bottle). They’d laid on a lovely spread of nibbles, gave us tastings of a number of different Proseccos. At the end, they presented us all with a bottle. Not sure which one it was, as it wasn’t one of the ones we tasted. It worked – Janine & I ordered a box of a mix of some of those we’d tested.

Is it a road or a river?

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Prosecco Hills – Around Cison di Valmarino

We’re back in Italy. This time, it’s the Prosecco Hills, so really not that far from the last set of posts in Lake Garda.

It’s a walking holiday this time, based in Soligo, right in the heart of the Prosecco hills. We’d timed it to fit in with my birthday. The journey out, despite having to go via Gatwick, was fine.

This morning’s walk was a bit of a rain coats on, rain coats off morning, but the scenery and villages were stunning.
We started in Cison di Valmarino, a beautiful small town, before heading up to Castelbrando. Then it was back down to Follino, where we had lunch (with prosecco), and a very tranquil 12th century cistercian abbey.

In the evening, we had some prosecco testing, which included the tranquille version -the non-fizzy one that they don’t generally export.

Then dinner – followed by birthday cake(let) 

Cison Di Valmarino

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It’s been a while.

There have been several holidays that I’ve not blogged about – though I did have Plans for posts, but they’ve not yet materalised … One day, perhaps, I’ll do Iceland, Tanzania, La Gomera … and others. But just not now.

Gardone Old town: June 29

We caught the little land train up to Gardone’s old town, a pleasant place for a wander, the back to the lake for beer & lunch, before an afternoon by the pool – and Pizza by the lake for dinner.

June 27 & 28

An early start to get to the airport – and a very tiny plane; just 3 seats across. Flight was fine … just a shame that though we arrived, Dad’s luggage didn’t.  Lunch was a rather nice cafe just near hotel; then Janine and I had a quick explore of the town – trying to figure out the flattest route. After dinner, which was in the hotel,  Janine and I returned to the town for am evening stroll.
The 2nd day saw the obligatory intro talk from the rep … Then a sit in the garden before heading into town before the first proper activity …  boat ride to Sirmione, and a wander round there,  with obligatory ice cream.