Monday, May 24, 2010

Niceland # 16 - Egilsstadir

A photogenic mountain caught in the midnight sun.
Egilsstadir is located at 65°17′N 14°23′WCoordinates: 65°17′N 14°23′W. The town is young, even by Icelandic standards where urbanization is a fairly recent trend compared to mainland Europe. It was established in 1947 as an effort by the surrounding rural districts recognising it had become a regional service center. The town, which is named after Egilsstaðir farm, is near the bridge over Lagarfljót where all the main roads of the region meet, Route 1 as well as the main routes to the East fjords.
Egilsstaðir and nearby river, Eyvindará, are mentioned in the Saga of the Sons of Droplaug and Saga of the inhabitants of Fljótsdalur. The urbanization of Egilsstaðir started when a farmer erecting a large residential building at the start of the 20th century. The house is still in use as a hotel. The town soon grew and by 2004 the population exceeded 2000. Egilsstaðir has grown to become the largest town of east Iceland and its main service, transportation and administration center. The growth has slowed markedly since the banking collapse in 2008.
I packed my bags for my move to the great east of Iceland; Excited to finally see the east fjords and meet reindeer. I was to fly with the local fleet called AirIceland -similar in name to the international fleet: IcelandAir.
The Eyjafjallajokull volcano delayed all domestic flights, grounding all flights within Iceland.  At this time, all international flights over the northern atlantic had been cancelled as well. My cab driver dropped me off at the airport only to be met with a wave of angry Icelanders fuming out of the building. The flight had been canceled within the last few hours before of the flight. My driver drove me home without charge. I promised I'd rebook our cab ride with him when flights resumed. The next day when my flight had been rescheduled to depart, the dispatch company refused to let me pick a driver by name. They'd only accept their working identification number. How typical. Quintessential Icelandic costumer service.
I flew into Egilsstadir out of Reykjavik Domestic airport. I re-booked myself a window seat I could see this mass thicket of barren trees stretching far into the distance as our tiny perpeller plane made its decent to land. It was the first time I had ever seen anything forest-like in Iceland. Egilsstadir is the land of reindeer and trolls. They need somewhere to hide.

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