Kristianshús (Mykines, Faroe Islands)

As I mentioned in my discussion on self-catering, there are a certain number of star attractions in the Faroes that every first time visitor should really check out. Probably the best one is Mykines, the westernmost island. The island is only lightly inhabited, with a single village (also called Mykines), that’s a cluster of about 40 houses, most of which are only vacation houses now. And some of the best bird nesting grounds in the world, especially for puffins.

But getting there is fun; it’s one of the few islands that’s not reachable by road. Your options are the twice-a-day ferry from Sørvágur (that books up well in advance) or helicopter from Vagar airport. Both are subject to cancellation due to high winds (indeed, helicopter flights were canceled most of the time we were out there), or high waves. They also warn you to bring some cash, basic toiletries, and patience, since it’s not unknown for people to get stranded for days at a time on Mykines due to helicopter and ferry cancelations (the author of my guidebook got caught out there for 7 days, and there’s an entire Danish novel and miniseries about a minister whose wife left him while he was stranded for two weeks on Mykines).

It’s truly a fabulous place. The village is isolated and almost a small world unto itself. The hike out to the Lighthouse is a truly iconic hike with some great views. And even better, the hike goes through some of the densest bird nesting grounds in the Atlantic, with literally millions of puffins, gannets, fulmar, kittiwakes, and other island birds.

But after the hike, we sauntered back to the village, and while the weather was favorable for our return to the mainland via boat, our return trip wasn’t for another two hours, so we decided to get lunch.

Well, with a permanent population of 11, Kristianshús (“Christian’s House”) is almost the entirety of commerce (and government) for the village, serving as the hotel, restaurant, and, well, whatever else is needed in the village.

Really, I probably should have heeded my earlier advice and taken the time to assemble a picnic lunch like a good fraction of the other visiting tourists did, but after a short wait, part of a table opened up in Kristianshús alongside some Norwegian backpackers (who had all sorts of tales of how their tent basically got shredded due to high winds the night before; Faroese winds are famously fierce at times). Our fare was simple: I opted for a grilled cheese sandwich, while Carol opted for the fish soup. There was also a splendid-looking cake (lagkager) made up of several thin pancake-like layers combined with whipped cream.

The cheese sandwich wasn’t much to look at, but it was actually a splendid sandwich, made of some pleasant mild rye bread, two hearty layers of Danish-style ham, and a surprisingly gooey amount of cheese. Certainly a good treat to enjoy as we waited for our boat.

Carol’s soup was our first experience with a traditional Faroese fish soup, and it was actually really similar to the Icelandic meat soup: balls of ground fish in a rich, lightly spiced tomato broth with a lot of vegetables, if you like fish, this was a pleasant bowl of soup as well.

Really, while the selection was limited, and the prices a bit high (understandable; all the ingredients come in either via helicopter, or via the same ferry as the tourists), the food was good, and the village almost excessively charming. So I’ll chalk this one up as another fine meal enjoying a glimpse into the former Faroese way of life.

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