"So why have you brought a Lamborghini to the Faroe Islands?" asks the man in the sober grey suit.
"I wanted to go somewhere with dramatic scenery and great roads," I explain. "To a place where there are no speed cameras and no petty bureaucracy."
The man looks a little concerned and photographer Salt intervenes. "Alistair," he says, "let me introduce you to the Faroes' Minister for Transport."
It's an inauspicious start. My new-found friend, Bjarni Djurholm, also turns out to be the Minister for Trade and Industry and, for the moment at least, the acting Prime Minister. I arrived in the Faroe Islands less than two hours ago and I've already embarrassed myself in front of a local dignitary.
Djurholm admits to being a Lamborghini fan and wants a ride in the car, a Gallardo Spyder. We trundle out of town as I wonder whether to break the modest 80 kph speed limit. At 50 mph, in fourth gear, the machine burbles away contentedly, but it feels no more exciting than a Buick.
"I think you should overtake the car in front," says Djurholm, proving that laws are there to be broken, even if you've made them yourself. I shift to second and flex my right foot as the V10 takes a lug of fuel. At full throttle, the Gallardo makes a noise that's devilishly naughty. While Ferrari's F430 proffers a high-pitched, F1-mimicking scream, the Lambo plays a symphony of trumpets. "It's even better than I imagined," says Djurholm. We make a U-turn at the top of a hill and then sprint back to Trshavn, the Faroes' biggest town. "I used to have a picture of a Lamborghini as a boy," he says between spurts of acceleration. "This is like a dream." His childish enthusiasm is shared by his electorate-a crowd has gathered to greet our return and a dozen camera phones are thrust into action.
No one can ever remember a Lamborghini visiting these shores before, which is why we've achieved celebrity status. The local newspaper got so excited about our imminent arrival that they made it headline news.
Situated in the middle of the North Atlantic, halfway between the UK and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are as far north as Anchorage, Alaska. They're home to just 48,000 people, but have their own language and banknotes. Officially, the islands are part of the kingdom of Denmark, but their parliament has autonomy over local issues. And although the islanders are far from poor, sky-high car tax excludes the exotic.
To get here, we've had to drive almost 1000 miles from London, England, and take two overnight ferries. We've been on the road for three days and by now I've settled into Lambo 'ownership.' As a long-distance tool, the Gallardo is surprisingly capable. Gone are the days when Lamborghinis were the automotive equivalent of a poster-boy dunderhead: pretty but useless.
The purists might bemoan the company's German ownership, but there can be no denying that a large injection of cash, coupled with some Teutonic attention to detail, has resulted in a much better Lamborghini-everything works. There's also something satisfying about driving a car that's not the default choice. Old man Ferrucio might have been a tractor maker and not a racer, but a Gallardo is more exclusive than an F430.
Eventually we escape our groupies and explore the colorful Trshavn. Quaint wooden buildings are dotted around the harbor and many have roofs made of turf. "When we want to cut the grass, we just throw up a couple of sheep," says a local, half-joking. The vibe is laid-back and surprisingly cool-very Scandinavian.
The local jet wash is run by Jakup Borg, who plays for the Faroes' soccer team. His is a simple life, but he seems happy. "There's no crime," he says. "Trshavn is a good place to be-there are eight bars and four nightclubs-but some of the other communities feel like they're stuck in the '60s or '70s."