I was on parental leave (We have 10 months paid parental leave here in the Faroe Islands) and out of nowhere my godmother called me and asked if I felt like house-watching her family house in Mykines for a week. I was stoked, because it’s not common for Faroese people to be able to stay in Mykines for days, so I gladly accepted and about five hours later me, Pierre and Tova Lilou, sat on the boat on our way to Mykines. Unfortunately we forgot our camera in the hurry, but we managed to take some pictures with our phones.
In the 1940’s there lived around 170 people on the island, but because of changing social conditions, there has been a decline of people with only 11 residents living all year round now a days. 8 months of the year the only way to get to and from the island is with helicopter and it is very common that people get stuck on the island for a day or two because of the weather. But during summer there is life in the village. The houses in the village become homes for a couple of months to locals from the mainland, taking a long summer holiday in their family residences. My godmother’s house doesn’t have any heating, there is no TV or radio and there is limited electricity, so it was like stepping back in time. Pierre learned an old technique of making a fire with peat and we became experts in chopping wood. Also we found out that diapers burn really good!
Mykines is one of three Ramsar sites on the Faroe Islands (Nólsoy and Skúvoy being the two others). The birdlife on the island is definitely the best reason to visit the island. There you can see the northern gannet, puffins, guillemot, kittiwake, fulmars and others. Most tourist come to see the puffin, but amongst the islanders the gannet has a special place in their heart.
The legend says that the giant Tóri wanted to overtake the island for its goods and to kill the islander Óli. When Óli saw Tóri from far away he tried to escape to the end of the island. Óli, seeing that he couldn’t escape the giant, shouted out in despair for the island to make a gorge, thus making Mykineshólm (Mykines islet). But the giant had no problem stepping over it and Óli now had to fight the giant, and after a long and hard fight he finally managed to rip one of the giant’s eye out and threatened to kill him. The giant pleaded for his life and gave Óli three gifts in return. One was the whale that came swimming close to the island, one was the driftwood and the last was the gannet. The only condition was that the islanders didn’t talk bad about the gifts because then they would disappear. As time went by, the driftwood and the whale disappeared because the islanders forgot about the deal Óli had made. But the gannet the islanders never spoke ill off because the bird was precious and necessary for those on the island who didn’t have the chance to go out to fish and sail. Therefore there are so many gannets on the island today. No one has ever talked ill about the gannet on the island, so remember that when you visit Mykines! ;)
Tova Lilou didn’t miss out on anything. We had our baby carrier, strapped her in and went for a hike to Mykineshólm to see the islet and the birds. Lucky us, we managed to see some seals as well. We can definitely recommend taking small kids for a hike to the islet, if you are going. The trip took around 3 hours back and forth, but we also took our time with taking pictures, eating by the lighthouse and just enjoying each others company and the magnificant nature. Afterwards we went to the café "The Locals", to get warm again and have a cup of coffee and cake. Since we stayed there for a week we also managed to meet the lovely woman Oda, who has her own guesthouse in Mykines. She invited us over for cake and coffee and told us a lot about the birdlife on the island and other useful tips. Oda is a routined guide and host and she offers guests breakfast, dinner, guided tours to see the birds and the sunset on the island. Check her tours out here on the website!
It is waaaay different to travel with a toddler then traveling alone, and there are some things that are useful (other then the obvious diapers and warm clothes). So we made a small list of what we found was nice to have.
- Gloves, cap (we forgot Tova Lilou's and had to improvise) and warm socks.
- Extra food and milk for a day, since there only are two café’s and a small shop in a basement.
- An extra pacifier (We lost the only one we had in the middle of nowhere!!).
- Baby carrier or wrap.
- A toy or two (If you come in the morning and leave in the afternoon there will be some waiting time).
If you need any information about anything or you have any questions, you are welcome to contact us and we will answer as soon a possible.
Mykines truly is one of the most beautiful places in the Faroe Islands. It is full of life and tranquil at the same time. We would without a doubt go back again tomorrow if we had the chance. So if you are in to birds, hikes and beautiful nature, this island really is the place to see.