Icelandic Lock Ness in Egilsstadir
Icelandic Lock Ness in Egilsstadir.....
Upon first viewing of the title of this article you could wander what I'm on about?! A Scottish lock in Iceland?! Well... not really the lake or a lock, more of whats in the lake.... In north eastern Iceland there is a town known as Egilsstadir. It is a young town formed in 1947 by the national government, and is one of the main trade posts for the east of Iceland. It actually has quite a nice little vibe to the place. Sat on the edge of Lagarfljót Lake (one of Iceland's deepest lakes), and surrounded by mountains it is hard to imagine how this cute little town could have its tranquility questioned. Apart from maybe when Holland are playing football in the world cup...!? Anyhow... if you read a little more into Lagarfljót Lake, you will learn of a mysterious creature living in the depths. Known to some as 'Lagarfljótsormur' or to others as 'Lagarfljotsormurinn', or simply to you and me as Icelandic worm monster. This lake cryptid can apparently rival the Scottish Lock Ness Monster and apparently is much older than wee Nessie!!!
The origins of this lake cryptid date back to olden days when folke magic was common practice. As the story goes, a milk maid situated nearby the lake, allowed her magic to get a little out of hand. When trying for riches, she placed a golden ring and a small snail or worm into a box together. When opening the box on a second viewing, it was hard not to notice that the snail/worm had now grown to the size of the box. On this notion, she threw the wiered snail/worm into the lake, where it continued to grow. The first recorded sighting of the creature was in 1345, when local farmers noticed humps moving across the water. With no recorded visual footage of this giant worm, it is hard to say if its ledgend is as mighty as Nessie's, however more sightings keep coming up with new stories, adding to the allusive nature of the mythical cryptid.
While we scammbled around the shore of the lake there actually was an almost chilling fealing (not the wind for once), but something else. The colour of the lake is a kind of 'chalky white', apparently caused by siltation. This visibly poor water adds to the imagination. While looking out and pondering over the idea of another sighting of the creature, I once again felt like a child in Iceland, left to think about strange goings on in beautiful places.
The next tale I learnt of was of 'The Dragon of the east'. The dragon of the east is one of four Icelandic guardians described in an old story by a Danish magician, sent to Iceland by King Harold of Denmark prior to his invasion of Iceland. It is said that the magician took the form of a whale and swam to Iceland, as to appear not to stand out. When approaching Vopnafjörður (fjord of weapons), the magician was met by a huge dragon and many other reptiles and lizards and worms. The hills were filled with spirits and the magician was pushed away. He then went north to Eyjafjörður (Fjord of Isles), where he was approached by a bird sooooo massive that its wing span covered the fjord. Once again the magician was scared away by the huge bird and many other birds of all various sizes. This time he swam west and south to Breiðafjörður (Wide Fjord), where this time he was approached by giant bull, whom joined by spirits waded into the sea and destroyed yet more efforts for the magician to get onto land. Finally the magician approached Víkarsskeið (The Sands of Vikar), on the Reykjanes Peninsula, where this time he was met by a huge rock giant. Apparently his head was higher than the mountains. The dejected magician, fearing as if he would never land on Iceland returned back to Denmark to share with his king the information. Apparently due to these four spirits and a little help from their friends, they ended the intentions for invasion by King Harold of Denmark.
Anyway, enough of folk stories and Icelandic ledgend more on Egilsstadir. The town has recently gained a new campsite which has great facilities and is in awesome walking distance from the 'new' sports bar and cafe to hit the Egilsstadir scene. The sports cafe seemed to be a central hang out for most of the youthful Icelandics in the area. On Saturday they ran a great deal which was two beers for 700ISK between 8-11pm. As the night rocked on and the crowd got bigger this little place could have done with more of a music theme, rather than MTV on large screen... however, the locals were great and made us feel very welcome. What else made us stay for days? Apart from the hang over and..... oh yeh, the all you can eat buffet in the cafe just next to campsite. After cooking your own food on a camping stove for a few weeks, any kind of 'all you can eat' buffet sounds brilliant. We did rather over indulge on more than one occasion at the lunch buffet. The rest of our time spent in Egilsstadir was either exploring the abundance of lovely views from all around the city, or relaxing in the local swimming pool.
I would say that Egilsstadir is worth a visit. It is close to so many attractions in the north east of Iceland, and is also home to its own mystical serpant, not many towns can boast such features! We eventually managed to move on from Egilsstadir, heading towards Höfn í Hornafirð, and its lure of lobster.
Icelandic lesson..... around town!
Church - Kirkjan
Post Office - pósthús
Hospital - sjúkrahús
Book shop - Bókin verslun
Coffee shop (cafe) - kaffihús
Airport - Flugvöllur
Swimming pool -Sundlaug
Supermarket - stórmarkaður