Streymoy and Mykines
After touring the islands of Vágar and Eysturoy, as narrated in the previous chapter of the reportage, we head to the island of Streymoy, where we will spend the remaining two nights in the capital of the Faroe Islands, Tórshavn.
In the morning, before going down South, we decide to explore the small settlements of the North, nestled in calm and green valleys, as it is common in the archipelago. We visit Tjørnuvík and Saksun, under a light rain that doesn´t bother much. We spend more time at the first village, as we are hungry and, incidentally, a neighbour is offering tea and waffles on a makeshift post outside his home.
On the way between the two locations, we stop by the road to admire and photograph the beautiful waterfall Fossá, quite popular among the locals.
We also stop by a garden of stone sculptures, the same concept that can be seen frequently in Ibiza or, in greater number and concentration, on the Camí de Cavalls, path that leads to Cala Pregonda, in the Spanish island of Menorca.
First contact with Tórshavn
Once visited the mentioned places, it is time to drive to the capital of the Faroe Islands, named Tórshavn, where we will stay for the rest of the trip. It is the largest city in the archipelago, with a long history dating back to the Viking Age.
The city centre is calm, walkable and very nice, with some of the best shops and restaurants located in the area, including Áarstova, Barbara Fish House or Hotel Hafnia. Since our desire to eat is growing, we decide to stop and enjoy some Japanese food, our favorite, taking advantage of the fact that we are in a place where fish quality is outstanding. This is how we end up in Etika, a restaurant with a simple but attractive design, close to the port, where the Japanese culinary tradition is combined, quite rightly, with the freshness of local fisheries.
A bit of history in Kirkjubøur
With the stomach full and our curiosity satisfied, by the moment, we visit the village located further South of the island of Streymoy, also the main historic core of the Faroes.
It is Kirkjubøur, known for hosting the ruins of Magnus Cathedral – dated in 1300 and under restoration works during our visit -, Saint Olav´s Church – the oldest still used in Faroe, from the twelfth century, where they keep a Viking rune found in 1832 – and the world’s oldest inhabited wooden house, Kirkjubøargarður, made in the eleventh century, which also houses a museum, as you can see in the gallery below.
After this interesting approach to local culture, we return to the capital, where we take time to relax a bit in the exceptional Hotel Føroyar. Situated high in the city, it is the usual place of rest for celebrities and politicians visiting the Faroes, for understandable reasons. Unfortunately, we don´t have time to eat at the hotel restaurant, KOKS, run by Head chef Poul Andrias Ziska and looking really good.
Mykines, a paradise for the ornithologist
We save this last day of stay in the islands to enjoy one of the experiences we most wanted to live, and, in my case, also photograph. This is the visit to Mykines, an island that is part of the oldest area of the archipelago, formed about 60 million years ago, with a population that has been declining over time, counting only 14 permanent inhabitants in 2012.
As usual on this trip, we arrive just in time to the ferry that departs from the port of Sørvágur, on Vágar, to Mykines. It is recommended to call in advance or email for booking your seats, as places are limited and the boat, called Jósup, gets frequently full. It would be a shame if you loose your chance to visit this unique place for this reason, like we almost did.
Due to the rebellious state of the sea, the journey is a little troubled, but its short duration makes the bad times pass soon. We disembark the ferry and walk up some stone stairs, before reaching the village of Mykines after a short walk. It is a small and peaceful settlement where there is only a place to sleep and eat, Kristianshús guesthouse.
Hiking to Mykineshólmur´s Lighthouse
After walking around the small village and buying some water for the hike, we start the trek that ends at the lighthouse on the island of Mykineshólmur. To do this we must retrace our steps and, as indicated by a wooden sign at the entrance of the village, undertake the ascension of a long hill that takes us to the beginning of this little adventure.
The day is slightly rainy and a cooling mist presides the environment, which causes visibility to be reduced, in some sections, with a resulting slippery path.
It is not an easy hike or suitable for those suffering from intense vertigo – here you can access all the details of the route – and requires proper shoes to avoid accidents or harmless slips, which happen quite often.
The Kingdom of Charming Puffins
Considered by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area, Mykines island welcomes thousands of sea birds of over 200 species, due to its location and climatic characteristics, among other factors.
It should be done with care, I must insist, as the terrain can be slippery and the possible fall does not bode well for the distracted traveler.
We spot the first colonies of Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula Arctica), one of my favorite birds for its superb and authentic look, and also groups of other species, such as the big and impressive Gannet (Sula Bassana).
We keep walking, with the care that conditions require. There is a point in the route where, due to the intense fog, the road seems to end. Wrong idea, as a ladder descends from the side and leads to one of the best places for bird watching. It is a hillside full of nesting puffins, frequented by thousands of birds – kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) or graceful Arctic terns (Arctic tern), among others – that down to the sea in search of food, returning, if they are successful, with small fish in their peaks.
The route continues and leads to a curious bridge connecting the two islands. From there, we continue climbing and reach Mykineshólmur´s lighthouse, where we stop to eat and rest for a while. Unfortunately, the foggy weather prevents us from enjoying the views from this elevated position, although we guess they must be really impressive.
Once completed the short rest, we start the descent back to the village of Mykines, where we await the arrival of Jósup the ferry. The return journey, although rough, gives us majestic views of Gásadalur waterfall and a beautiful rainbow across the Faroese sky, for a few enjoyable minutes.
Goodbye Dinner at Hotel Hafnia
We drive back to the hotel and get ready to enjoy a memorable evening that marks, to our regret, the end of this short but memorable journey. We do it in the prestigious restaurant that houses the Hotel Hafnia, where we have a delicious tasting menu and some good wine, while we remember the great experiences lived during the last few days and hope to come back in the future.
Before retiring to bed and concluding our 4 Days in the Faroe Islands, we take the last walk along the port of Tórshavn and bid farewell to this magnificent archipelago, ideal destination for those seeking to escape from everyday issues and reconnect with nature, in a harmonious and dramatic combination of green land, fresh calm and generous portions of precious water.
Thanks to Annleyg and Ditte for their help.
4 DAYS IN THE FAROE ISLANDS
Part 2 / Streymoy and Mykines
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