News and events

About me

Biography, background, press, and tidbits both musical and nonmusical

My musicals

Five shows I've written, including one that ran Off-Broadway in 2006 and one currently in development

The Chagall Suite

A commissioned 8-movement piano piece inspired by Marc Chagall's artworks, and a tribute to Chagall and Elvis


Hear my music on this site and buy my recordings

Musical direction

See my ideas regarding musical direction, see my resume, or let me coach you for auditions and give you accompaniment tracks to practice with

Transcription services

Send me a recording to create sheet music from, or have me transpose or arrange a song or instrumental work


Read accounts of my long-term trips and my experience on the Fosse tour

Mailing list

Subscribe to receive news and travelogues

Trip 36 — Eysturoy Walk

Day 1: Oyrarbakki to Gjógv
Monday, 19 June 2023

Today: 30876 steps/25.28 km/15.71 mi/4h 22m

A day of close calls.

The more they raise the price of the AirTrain to JFK Airport, the more stubborn I become about not paying for it. The frequency is awful, especially considering that it doesn't require any drivers, and the fare is now a gruesome $8.25 to ride to the airport from the subway at Jamaica or Howard Beach station (or vice versa). In the case of Jamaica, there's a little bit of value as the distance is a few miles, but from Howard Beach it technically costs $8.25 just to cross from the subway to the adjacent parking lot.

I feel so strongly that it's a ripoff that I'll risk missing a flight, even if I don't manage to leave my apartment in midtown Manhattan until 9:06 p.m. for an 11:15 p.m. departure. Even if there are 50 people queued up for the Q10 bus at Kew Gardens and they all have to pay at the front, one by one, despite the tap-to-pay feature's having been installed at all doors for years but the MTA refuses to turn it on. Even if it is only the local Q10 running, which takes about 40 minutes, compared with the limited's 25. And even if the buses all terminate at the AirTrain station at Lefferts Boulevard for the next few years, rather than going to a central terminal, because of airport construction.

I happened to learn, from running a 5K race on one of the airport's runways in April, that the Q10 local has a dumpy-looking stop next to a dusty overpass between a wastewater plant and a towing service somewhere near the Federal Circle AirTrain station. It was certainly close enough to be worth getting off there and running the seven minutes to Federal Circle; staying on the bus to Lefferts Boulevard and backtracking would have taken much longer. (The AirTrain is free between the terminals and either Federal Circle or Lefferts Boulevard.)

After a little hiccup at the security checkpoint — my mobile boarding pass didn't scan; perhaps my request for a paper one as a backup invalidated the first one; they sent me back to the counter, where of course the staff had left as it was only 25 minutes until the flight; only then did I think to give them the paper, which worked — I boarded at about 10:55. And used the toilet at the front of the plane, because I hadn't gotten to in the terminal.

The upside was that I was last to approach the seats, and a polite query to a flight attendant whether I could sit in an empty row rather than next to two strangers was met with approval once she confirmed no one else was boarding. So sometimes, perhaps, it works out better to cut it close, keep your bladder full, and career through the airport a bit loonily, sprinkling your mutterings liberally with "sorry" and "thank you."

Flying from New York to Reykjavík doesn't allow for much sleep. I was thirsty and the drink service didn't start for about an hour. Then I dozed off until the second drink service, not even three hours after that. I would have been fine skipping it, but my body and mind collectively will wake me resolutely if they sense a possibility of a cup of warm Pepsi.

The onward flight to Vágar in the Faroes posted a ten-minute delay. This could have been enough to throw the whole day off track, as the scheduled arrival time was 2:10 p.m. and the bus I needed was due at 2:25. The following bus wasn't until 4:35, and I needed to connect to a second bus and then walk for a few hours.

The flight itself was basic and comfortable, on a Boeing 737 operated by Atlantic Airways. We landed and parked at 2:22; they brought over the stairs and the door was opened at 2:25. There was, thankfully, no passport control. I ran through the airport and was delighted to see the 300 bus still there at 2:26:44. Three minutes later we were on our way. If I'd been in row 20 instead of row 2, I wouldn't have had a chance.

I needed to connect to the 400 bus at a stop called Kollafjarðartunnilin. It was a lonely, nondescript bus shelter that might have been a dreary and windy place to spend 45 minutes, except that it features prominently in "Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?" Kollafjarðartunnilin is never explicitly mentioned, but based on the descriptions, it must have been here that Mattias lay down on the bench, disoriented, having walked for a few hours and not remembering why his hand had become bloody and he'd obtained an envelope of money. It must have been here that he rested, until Havstein collected him and brought him into his family of accumulated misfits.

And Mattias must have walked through the tunnel that shares its name with the bus shelter. I walked over to it, a couple of minutes away. Built in 1992, it's 2.8 kilometers long. While it has enough of a shoulder for walking, it is dimly lit and would be an eerie place to spend a half-hour, even for a person troubled with other thoughts, or having no thoughts.

I went back to the shelter. "Maa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa," said one of the black sheep by way of a greeting. Next to the shelter was a gate signed, as far as I could tell, as a walking route. But beyond the gate, there was little indication of a path. I had an uneasy feeling that a few of the trails I was planning to walk would be similarly difficult to follow.

The bus came, and 25 minutes later we crossed from Streymoy to Eysturoy and I alighted in Oyrarbakki. I started heading north. There wasn't much time to tarry; check-in at the Gjáargarður Guesthouse in Gjójv, about 27 kilometers away, ended at 9:30 and it was now 4:10.

There was supposed to be one place serving meals along the way: the Sjógæti fish-and-chips truck that made the rounds throughout the week and usually set up in Eiði, halfway through the walk, on Mondays. This would be a good time, I realized, to check its Facebook page, which showed the truck's location. If the truck wasn't there, I could collect food from the supermarket in Eiði.

To my surprise, the Sjógæti page did not mention its being in Eiði today. But hey, check out our store in Norðskála, it said.

Norðskála, Norðskála...sounded familiar although it wasn't a town I'd be staying in along the walk. Where had I heard its name? Oh, of course, on a road sign — I had just entered the town.

And then I looked left and there was Sjógæti.

The very friendly person cooked up an order of fish and chips. This was still early in the tourist season, she said, but there would be a lot of people coming in over the next couple of months. She had a sister in Alabama who would be spending some time with their family in the Philippines.

"I'd like your opinion on something," I said. "Do I need any cash?" I'd been able to use a credit card on the bus and here at the fish-and-chips shop. There was no ATM at the airport, or so I'd heard, not that I'd had the time to look for or use one. I had about 100 Danish kroner from being in Denmark 21 years ago, but it was the old series and I wasn't sure people would accept it.

"In ninety-eight percent of places you can use a card," she said. "But you can get cash at the supermarket, just back a little."

I'd passed the Bonus supermarket in Norðskála, but I hadn't wanted to stop so soon, and now I didn't have time to go back. I'd read that there was an ATM in Eiði, but she didn't think so, and she confirmed that the truck wasn't operating there today. I thanked her and had a few bites of the meal outside — might as well try some of it hot — before resuming the journey north.

For a couple of hours I walked along the western edge of Eysturoy, with Streymoy across the water on my left. It was chilly, about 54°F, and overcast and windy, Occasionally the sun poked through, but it was rarely and briefly. The road through Norðskála merged with the main highway north. There was no sidewalk, but traffic was very light and most drivers gave me a lot of space.

Where the road forked toward Eiði or Gjógv just outside Eiði, there was a picnic table, and I finished the fish and chips and the orange soda included in the combo meal. I descended into Eiði to collect a few things from the supermarket (tomorrow's lodging has no eatery or market nearby, and there's none on the way), and there was Eiði's lovely church...and the fish-and-chips truck after all! But I'd enjoyed the conversation at the Sjógæti store.

Time was getting on. I'd have to keep to barely over ten minutes per kilometer to make it to the guesthouse by 9:30, and the first hour-plus, past the Faroes' tallest mountain (Slættaratindur, 880 meters), was a continuous climb. At the entrance to the Gjógv road was a sign that ominously mentioned a road closure, but upon closer inspection the fine print indicated that only local workers and sheep farmers were allowed on the road between 1 October and 1 May.

I took a brief pause for a look at Risin and Kellingin, the two sea stacks that rise up next to Eiðiskollur, the mountain behind Eiði. According to the legend, these two protrusions — "the giant" and "the witch" (perhaps his wife) wanted to steal the Faroes and bring them to Iceland. The witch tried to pull Eiðiskollur away with a rope, but it held fast, and when morning came, the sun's rays turned her and the giant into stone.

I climbed up to Slættaratindur and onward, shaving off some distance at the hairpin turns by scrambling across them. During this stretch, the sheep walked freely, whereas on the way up to Eiði they had been penned in. They seemed less ominous than the wild kangaroos of Kangaroo Island; they usually stayed still and looked at me, sometimes maa-aa-aa-ing, although a few timid ones scurried away from me. They were all sorts of colors: black, white, tan, brown, and combinations thereof, even lavender, vermilion, and turquoise, though those may have been the result of my delirium after walking uphill in the evening with little sleep.

"Maa-aa-aa-aa-aa," I grunted. It was the appropriate sound for this uphill battle.

Finally the long descent into Gjógv. I was due to make it on the dot at 9:30, and then I could see the guesthouse across a road that Google Maps didn't acknowledge. I was even a few minutes early! Most of those minutes went to a futile attempt to find the reception desk, until another guest pointed me in the right direction upstairs. The staff had departed after all, but they had left an envelope with my name on it and a key inside.

The post-midnight twilight carries on until the sun comes up around 3:30 a.m.

Go on to day 2