Today, I head to the island Eysturoy (pronounced Esther-roy). I’ve only seen the tiny village of Gjógv (JEG-veh) in photos and I want that to change. Through a wedding photographer collective, I’ve met an LA-based wedding photographer named Greg Balkin who let me know he’d be in the Faroes at the same time as me. I have tentative plans to meet him and his Faroese host Debora Biskopstø for the first time in Gjógv, but I don’t have phone service or a solid idea of what they look like in person. I hope for the best.
When I arrive, I immediately know it. Gjógv rests in a valley that hugs a natural harbor. Two cliffs sandwich a thin inlet, and I decide to climb them both.
On my first ascent, I am greeted by a breathtaking drop to the Atlantic when I reach the edge. When I turn 180 degrees, I’m greeted by a dramatic view of the village beneath me.
On my second ascent, I am surprised and thrilled to be greeted by both Greg and Debora. I don’t know what time it is, but I know I must be late. The timing feels serendipitous, though, because we wind up on the same trail that rests on the same hill. I want to meet locals and fellow travelers, but the introvert in me is tenacious. They make it easy on me with the warmest greeting. After a series of introductions, we decide to head to Klaksvík. It’s Debora’s home and the second largest city in the country.
In Klaksvík, Debora takes us to a Faroese café and teaches me that Jolly is the Faroese version of coke (made right here in the islands) and mayonnaise is the Faroese version of ketchup. We then head to Debora’s home where she is a perfect host. Though we’ve just eaten a Faroese feast, she sets a table with coffee, tea, ice cream, cookies, candies, and chocolate sticks. We make a pretty heavy dent and notice sunlight flicker through her window for the first time since I arrived to the islands. We don’t waste a second.
I follow Debora and Greg up a mountain that rests minutes behind her home. The sun is more than just poking through clouds. It’s downright beaming now. I watch it separate and give dimension to the mountains that have read like a perfect backdrop on my own version of the Truman Show. When we make it to the top we find 360° views of several islands surrounding the one where we’re standing, and Debora starts naming them.
At home in Chicago, golden hours dissipate in minutes. Here, everything is relaxed, and we watch the sky turn pink and gold for hours. Every time I look back, the sky is a different version of itself like a Monet painting. Debora is enamored, and it quickly becomes clear to me that a Faroese sunset is rare around here.
Debora leads us to the top of the neighboring mountain, and teaches me to zigzag on my way up. At the top, we talk about life, travels, faith, family, and the Faroe Islands while we watch the night change. At home, I don’t know many people who share similar views to me. I’m elated at the agreeable bond forming between us, and sad about the distance that will soon separate it. I am so grateful to have met them both.
When we zigzag back down the mountain, we make plans to meet again tomorrow to conquer another mountain—the largest one in the Faroes.