Adventurous travel for all ages

Mouth of the fjord in the Faroe Islands.

Source: F. Toder

There was a time when retirement meant sitting in the rocking chair on the porch and watching the world go by. This was when the average age of death was around 60 years old. But now many older people, who have the means and a modicum of health and mobility, want to explore their world more fully.

There is an old myth that suggests people become less adventurous, in general, and also when it comes to travel, as they get older. I have not seen this idea supported by facts. As someone now viewed by others as elderly, I don’t see why that would be true, assuming significant health or cognitive issues don’t interfere. The myth suggests that a person’s world and interests shrink, perhaps in proportion to their size? Of course not. I’m joking.

The travel industry once targeted the 65-75 year old cohort as perfect for cruises. This is the so-called young-old population. An AARP survey of adults ages 54-72 found virtually all plan to take at least one domestic trip in 2019. But little attention is paid to the over-75 age group, a rapidly growing segment of society. in most developed countries.

A recent study, “Understanding the Value of Tourism for Health and Positive Aging in Older Adults,” examined several variables, including the mental and physical health benefits of travel in an older population. In addition to expected results suggesting mental and physical health benefits, “this study unexpectedly found that respondents who participate in frequent travel experiences became more optimistic in their outlook and are able to think actively and positively about outside their original closed environment when faced with setbacks and difficulties”.

Although this study is very comprehensive, it did not include in its sample adults over the age of 75, a population characterized as old-old, which I find to be a disrespectful categorization. Yet there is no reason why the elderly, and here I mean the elderly or those of any age, cannot travel very far. And a recent trip reminded me of that.

I had never heard of the Faroe Islands before traveling from western Norway to Iceland. As we approached, the towering, rugged and towering peaks of Torshavn did not seem like a hospitable place and as I looked around at the mostly older adults disembarking from the cruise ship, I wondered how we would manage to move once on earth.

The cruise passengers who disembarked seemed to be split between young-old, usually aged 60 to 75, and old-old, aged 75 to 85, with a few old-timers, likely over 85. It turns out that these islands provide an ideal place for the elderly to navigate. Surprisingly, the capital’s streets were mostly flat or gently sloping and wound their way past turf-covered houses, built as the Vikings did when they invaded and settled around 800 AD.

Halfway between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Sea lie the Faroe Islands, inhabited since at least the 6th century when monks sailing north from Ireland discovered the place and s are installed there. From a distance, the destination looked like a clump of uninhabited, hostile volcanic peaks and outcrops of dreary charcoal gray rising from the sea and nothing more. This steep, windswept land where my ship docked seemed like an unlikely place to spend the day, but I’m so glad I did.

In many ways a modern city

From the wharf in the center of Torshavn, a short comfortable walk, visitors can immediately spot the currently used, but centuries-old parliament building, built on the site of the original Viking settlement in the 9th century. Called Tinganes, which means “parliament point” in Faroese, this parliamentary meeting place is one of the oldest in the world dating back to the Viking period.

Peering out the windows of the squat red-brick buildings with grass roofs, it seemed incongruous to see computers and other modern technology sitting on desks inside. But in many ways it’s a modern city, with good cell phone reception.

Although there are 22 islands comprising the Faroe Islands, only three have a large population. While the total population remains around 30,000, currently 13,000 reside in the capital city of Torshavn, which I found lovely to walk around.

A nice and peaceful place

Although off the beaten track, and perhaps because of that, it’s a pleasant, peaceful, and physically stunning place to spend some time. You are far from the hustle and bustle of tourist places with all the same shopping centers and frenzied travellers.

And in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, this place gives you respite from the geopolitical aggravations that persist almost everywhere these days. Escape for a short time from the troubles in America, Europe and the Middle East.

In the ocean halfway between Norway and Iceland and north of the tip of Ireland and Scotland, this remote archipelago is a Danish protectorate and a place where the ancient Norse language is still spoken. . Plus, thanks to Denmark, there are a series of bridges and tunnels that can take you, in your rental car, to other islands. Perfect for those wishing to explore the history and natural beauty of the Vikings. Whether you are a seasoned mountaineer or a more sedentary person who prefers to contemplate the landscape from a car, this is the place for you.

Something for everyone

There is a lot to see beyond the capital. If you are a nature lover, you are in for a treat as the mountain roads offer incredibly spectacular views of the fjords. You can take the 5 km underwater tunnel to Vágar, where the charming village of Sandavagur was first settled by the Vikings. Wherever you drive, across the many bridges or through the many tunnels, you arrive at stunning scenery, from coastal vistas to soaring peaks.

From the look of the islands, the eerie gray skies, and the appearance of the Northern Lights at certain times of the year, you’d think the weather so close to the Arctic Circle would be terribly cold all the time. In fact, the temperature rarely drops below freezing, with less than an inch of snow, and cool summers with highs in the mid-50s – in many ways a temperate climate.

It’s surprisingly easy to get there by boat between Norway and Iceland, a plus for pensioners who make up the majority of cruise ship passengers. There are also ferries between Iceland and the Faroe Islands that carry cars so you can explore the islands with ease, a plus for older, less ambulatory adults. There are also daily flights to Torshavn from several major cities, including Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Norway; Reykjavik, Iceland; and even Paris, France.

The modern, medieval and early Christian periods complement each other in this unusual place. There is something for everyone here: history lovers, bird watchers, explorers and hikers will all find their time in this special and unique place. Your age is not a relevant barrier here.

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