Another week and another litany of curious new stories that come out of Iceland. From pizza scandals to the failure of fast food giants to feed us chips, Guide to Iceland Now is fast becoming the CNN of this small, yet wildly exciting island. Read on for the latest in tabloid titillation.

McDonald’s is NOT coming back to Iceland

Credit: Flickr.

Since 2009, Icelanders hoping for a quick meal of Maccy D’s have been forced to watch, salivating, a live stream of the country’s last purchased hamburger, which sits refusing to rot away in a glass box at Bus Hotel in Reykjavík.

Despite illusory news reports this week that the fast food giant may be soon making a return to the land of sprite and fries… SORRY, land of ice and fire… it must be made clear—McDonald’s is not returning anytime soon.

The quality and nutritional value of a McDonald’s meal is debatable, but this did little to quell the waves of enthusiasm permeating Iceland at the beginning of the week.

Now that the disappointment is all too real, Icelanders will be forced to choose from the wide range of other fast food outlets in the country. Subway, perhaps? Tommi’s Burger? Block Burger? Aktu-Taktu? Kentucky Fried Chicken?

Nah, just go for a Dominos Pizza again. McDonald’s could never compete with that special relationship anyway…  

Icelandic President Apologises for Controversial Pizza Comments

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Talking of pizza, Icelandic President and fruit despiser, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has finally apologised for stating in February of last year that pineapple should be universally banned as a topping.

These frankly Trumpian comments—said to innocent schoolchildren, no less—caused outrage amongst the easily-outraged Icelandic population.

Despite calls for his resignation, deportation or public execution, the disgraced president has attempted to pull away from his previous comments, claiming “the effects of the office went to my head. I went too far”.

Too far indeed, but just how far, and can a president come back from such contentious and sweeping statements? Only time will tell.

All joking aside, Guðni is immensely popular in Iceland. He drives random school children home from their swimming practices, has no fashion sense, says hi to tourists and worried greatly about setting up his trampoline at Bessastaðir—the President official abode—when he got elected. We can forgive this unfortunate distaste for pineapple, given the antics other world leaders are up to currently.

Banksy’s Flower Bomber lands Former Mayor in Hot Water

Social media can get us all in trouble.

More often than not though, it provides us with an excuse to give others trouble for the sake of feeling virtuous. This is something the former mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr, found out this week after posting an innocuous good-night Facebook post from his living room featuring himself holding his dog, Klaki.

Wikimedia. Creative Commons.

Cue chaos.

You see, perceptive observers noticed a print of the iconic Flower Bomber artwork, gifted to Jón during his political days by the office of the artist, Banksy.

People, who like to think about such things, remembered that this gift came with one, world-changing condition; that the print must hang in the mayor’s office.

Now, regardless of the fact that Jón Gnarr is no longer mayor and, thus, has absolutely no say over what hangs on the wall, people couldn’t help but vent their fury, taking to Facebook to demand answers to this completely self-generated scandal.

Some users felt this went far beyond political corruption, while others tackled the important question of how much tax was owed on a print that cost approximately 3 euros. Morgunblaðið, one of Iceland’s more conservative newspapers, went as far as to have a tax expert from the Panama-headquartered law firm, Mossack Fonseca, weigh in on the whole affair. In short, this upset became absurdly disproportionate.

Jón responded on Facebook to the tide of mounting criticism, sharing a link to the print on Amazon whilst explaining the artwork copy had no financial worth. Those following the story on Twitter have since seen the comedian destroy the Banksy print in a bid to solve the situation. City council members from the Independent and Mid Parties, however, are now considering whether the city will file a damage claim.  

But before this all gets crazier, let us remember Banksy’s recent reminder of the words of leading 19th-century anarchist, Mikhail Bakunin; “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge”.

Surtsey Celebrates 55 Years on the Surface

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This week, the island of Surtsey celebrated its 55th year as an official Icelandic island, albeit one that can only be visited by scientists. So how did this wonder of modern geology arise?

An underwater eruption at the south of Iceland’s Westman Islands broke the ocean’s surface at 7.15 AM on the 14 November 1963. For volcanologists, this was Christmas come early, a chance to gain a deeper insight into the activities of the Westman Islands volcanic system.

This bubbling, heaving, smoking mass continued to erupt until the 5th June 1967, at which point it became of instant fascination to biologists. The island was named after Surtr, a fire giant in Norse Mythology.

Only three years after the eruptions came to an end, the island became home to nesting fulmar and guillemots, and the first Puffins were found living there in 2004. As of today, 12 species of bird are regularly seen at Surtsey. Other animals that have been seen include grey and harbour seals, which in turn attract orcas to the surrounding coastal waters.