We arrived in Faroe Islands on a rainy afternoon. The “rainy” part was expected; what was unexpected was a very short landing strip at the Vágar airport. The plane landed and the pilot immediately hit the brakes (or whatever it is that planes do to stop). The experience was similar to that of a car on a highway when you have to brake before a suddenly stopped car, but on a much larger scale. Scary. Later on, we met a man who used to fly to Faroe Islands regularly and told us that the landing strip was recently extended from 1250 m (about 0.8 mi) to 1800 m (about 1.125 mi), and before that many first time visitors used to scream during landing.
At the time of our arrival the airport was almost empty. It was about 4:30pm. I was disappointed that the passport control kiosk was closed and we could not get our passports stamped with the Faroe Islands stamp.
However, we were able to buy SIM cards from the information desk. Alex asked about specifics of driving on the Faroese roads, and the reply was – watch for the sheep. With that advice we walked out of the building and were greeted by a couple of sheep grazing around the airport parking lot. We had no trouble finding our rental because it was parked right near the exit and next to the sheep. Easy.
Our rental cottage was only a 10-minute drive away from the airport, and after a quick stop at a grocery store we arrived at the vicinity of a small but very picturesque village of Bøur.
Our cottage turned out to be at the bottom of a hill without a visible path to it from the parking lot.
We wandered around for a bit but could not find any path or trail to the cottage. (A couple of days later, we did manage to find a barely visible path through the high grass starting at some unmarked blue barrel by the road, but it is no wonder we could not find it on the first try.)
After lugging 4 heavy suitcases through wet grass (all done by Alex) we entered the cottage and were amazed by the view from its windows. No doubt it is all worth it to wake up everyday to this view.
The cottage itself was cozy and warm. Nothing fancy, but we rented it for the view, so we didn’t complain about the lack of a dishwasher :).
Around 7pm we went to sleep because we have not slept a lot during the flight, but I was so excited that I woke up at 11pm to take some pictures during the sunset.
Alex woke up a couple of hours later, and we decided to forgo sleep and go to see the dawn at Gásadalur village. The sunrise was at 3:58am that night, but by 2am it gradually started to dawn. We quickly packed our photo equipment and in 15 minutes we arrived to see this magical view.
When we finished enjoying the dawn at around 5am, Alex came up with the idea to go to Miðvágur to Bøsdalafossur hike instead of going home and taking a nap. His argument was that the weather was too good to waste it on sleep. My argument was that if we went on the hike, we would be too tired to go to Mykines island today at 10:20am. However, I found out that there would be an additional trip to Mykines at 12 noon, and that settled it. I was somewhat reluctant to go since even though brilliant sunshine is good for hiking, it is not good for photography.
Miðvágur to Bøsdalafossur hike along lake Leitisvatn (or Sørvágsvatn)
The hike starts from an unmarked parking on route 11. The best way to find it is to use Google maps, earth view.
The hike was easy but unmarked. Mostly we had no problem in following it, but at the end we got lost. We started to follow one of the sheep trails that led to a rocky hill, but soon all trails disappeared. Luckily we saw a manmade structure at the top and decided to climb in that direction. It turned out to be a ruin of a sheep shed, but from there we saw the sea and the point where the lake ends and comes down into the ocean as Bøsdalafossur waterfall. The view was very nice, but we could barely see the waterfall. Hence, no waterfall pictures. Here are some pictures of the rocks and cliffs but unfortunately by the time we got there the sun was high in the sky and it is very difficult to take a good picture in harsh light.
However, we went to the hike not for the waterfall view but to see the view that inspired us to visit Faroe Islands. It is a view of Leitisvatn on top of the cliff and the ocean at the bottom of the cliff. We knew that we needed to go up the mountainside but we couldn’t find the path, so we went back looking for anything that resembled a track left by humans, not sheep, but couldn’t find any. Finally, Alex said that we should just go up and see what is up there. So we went up and, hooray, we found the human track and, most importantly, the view. It was magical, no picture can do it justice. And while enjoying the nature at its full might I have learned something important about myself. I am afraid of heights and it is just tragic. I waited for so long to photograph that view, I brought a tripod, a backpack full of lenses, filters and all other photo gear… and I could not do it. No way. But, guess what, Alex who was afraid of a couple of cows on our trip to England, has no fear of heights. I gave him my camera and he was shooting away fearlessly.
I did take some pictures too.
On our way back we found several meadows full of white flowers looking like delicate feathers or silk threads. We had no idea what they were called but were amazed by their delicate beauty. Later on, it turned out that this was cottongrass, which grows in damp places and which used to be kind of a poor man’s cotton a long time ago.
By 10am we were back to our cottage, and I was able to get an hour of shuteye before we went on our trip to Mykines.
Mykines (the “k” is pronounced as “ch”) is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Faroe Islands. That said, the ferry that goes there everyday is quite small, so “popular” does not mean it is overrun by tourists.
There are no cars on the island, probably because there is only one village, a handful of permanent residents (11 according to Wikipedia), and nowhere to go by car. There is a small tractor, though.
However, there is a glorious hike to the lighthouse on the Mykineshólmur islet. Many people go to Mykines to see puffins, but we were more interested in the hike itself.
The trail starts at the beginning of the village, goes up a fairly steep hill, then runs over flat terrain for some time, but then again drops dramatically over slopes of a rocky cliff down to the ocean.
We crossed the bridge over to Mykineshólmur and had to go up the mountain again to get to the lighthouse. Fortunately, we decided to eat something before going on the hike, otherwise we would have been too tired to fully enjoy it.
At the lighthouse I met an extended family who tried to take a family selfie with an iPhone, but the family was too large for that (10 or 11 people). I offered to take their picture, and they told me that they are originally from Faroe Islands but now live in Denmark and that they have never been to Mykines before.
On our way back, we did stop to watch some puffins and take some puffin related pictures.
Puffins live in holes that they make in the slopes of hills or cliffs. This is why it could be dangerous to walk too close to the edge of such cliffs, because the ground around the edges may become unstable.
By the time we got back to the village, we were hungry again and decided to indulge in cake and coffee at the local cafe. The cafe looked somewhat uninspiring but the cake was delicious.
At the end of our trip we spent some time wandering around the village and taking some pictures.
Around 7pm we got back to our island, i.e. Vágar, and I said that I was done for the day, I wanted to go home and sleep for the next 12 hours. And that is what I did.