Bam, bam, BAM! The door of our room on the Norrona ferry shuddered under the weight of the mighty fist relentless pounding. I misread the schedule, we had to disembark at 3am, not 3pm. It was tough, to get out of that nice warm, soft bed and follow the line of passengers into a drizzling rain as we waited in the semi-darkness for the ferry to dock. We numbingly pedaled to the campground only a mile north of the terminal. It’s a sign of our experience, in spite of being wet and groggy we had the tent set up just as the sun rose at 4 a.m.

While cycling the southern coast of Iceland we discovered there was a ferry from the town Seyðisfjørður to Denmark. Rather than cycle back to Reykjavik to catch a flight to Scandinavia we booked a room on the ferry. We easily gave up three weeks of cycling the northern coast of Iceland to avoid flying. Then when we learned we could take advantage of a stop at Torshavn to spend a day or two exploring the Faroe Islands we said “Why not?”

As it happened we arrived on a Saturday, Tórshavn was barely coming to life when we walked to town mid-morning. The capitol was a pokey place, with a population around 10,000 I wondered if the compact city center was ever a hopping kind of place?

We struggled to find a place to eat, hardly anything was open. We couldn’t even find a grocery store, though a picnic lunch in this weather was unappealing we would have settled for it. Eventually we passed an open brasserie only a block from the waterfront, so in we went out of the drizzle and into a warm and inviting restaurant, modern Scandinavian design with upholstered chairs and windows to the ceiling. 

Happy with full tummies we toured the tiny downtown, lots of brightly painted buildings, cobblestone streets, mini parks and lovely flowers everywhere. Everyone was bundled in layers, the weather goes from one extreme to the next in minutes. I found free wifi in the library and after checking my emails I stayed to enjoy the view, a motley collection. Four little old ladies drinking tea/coffee and chatting happily away. Solo men reading Faroese newspapers. A young man with neat dreadlocks to his waist, working on one of the free computers. He got hit up by another young man in a suit and tie, in English, looking for someone to teach Creole. But Dreadlocks refused, he spoke Sierra Leone Creole, Suit-and-Tie wanted Louisiana French creole. Go figure.

We stumbled on an art opening, Steinprent was both an art gallery and a print shop. The opening had lots of hipsters checking out the prints and enjoying an ample smorgasbord and local beer. The workspace was filled with lithographic stones and huge ancient equipment. A printer myself, I gravitated to the distaff owner. She told me she makes more money printing others’ work. Buys stones from a quarry in Germany and brings them back on the ferry. On a recent trip she was given a huge 19th-century litho press from a closed shop. She had made it work, yet, but was determined. Her favorite press is a bare-bones American platen press. 

             Next morning we woke ravenously hungry (this happens a lot to cycle tourists). We should have known better and bought breakfast before we returned to the campground. We’d done enough cycling to know that Europeans are very, very, very slow to get started on Sundays.

            Sure enough, Tórshavn was a ghost town, we walked to the mall at the north end of town and while the doors were unlocked none of the stores or restaurants were open yet. All the lovely shops on the cobblestone streets were closed as we walked towards the waterfront. 

           Jim noticed yesterday’s brasserie was lit and open – yeah! So we climbed the stairs and waited to be seated. The waitress came by and said to sit wherever we wanted. After waiting for menus I spied a sign, breakfast was a serve-yourself buffet. We took off our rain jackets and joined the others at the buffet. As we dined on the scrumptious Scandinavian fare I noticed not only were we the only ones with jackets but most of the diners came and went through an inside door. “Psst,” I nudged Jim and told him of my suspicions.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I asked, “Is this the breakfast spot for the hotel above us?” Jim turned and looked all around.

“I think you’re right,” Jim whispered, “do you still want to eat here? Should we just get up and leave all this food on our table?” We looked at each other, contemplated our options back out on the town, and knew we were staying without saying another word. Hot coffee and tea, fresh juice, eggs, bacon, charcuterie, fruit bowl, croissants, toast, cheese, marmalade, butter, what a feast. And when we finished we just got up and walked back out the way we came, with very happy tummies on the bus. I must admit I felt less uncomfortable walking out without paying than staying and trying to explain our innocent mistake to a waitstaff that may or may not understand us when we explained our dilemma.

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