Iceland Is Closing Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

iStock.com/Thomas Schnitzler
iStock.com/Thomas Schnitzler

Despite the high prices, Iceland is a wildly popular vacation spot for foreigners—and American travelers in particular. But tourists visiting Iceland in the spring and early summer may be disappointed to find that one of the island's most beautiful locations is off-limits. As Condé Nast Traveler reports, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon will be closed until June, and Justin Bieber is being blamed.

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a 1-mile-long, 330-foot-deep canyon located in the southern part of the country. The river that runs through it is shallow enough to hike in, making it a popular spot for tourists looking to experience Iceland's vegetation and geology up close.

But in recent years, Fjaðrárgljúfur has become too popular for its own good. The number of visitors to the canyon rose from 150,000 in 2016 and to 282,000 in 2017, forcing the site to close for recovery a few times since then.

What's the reason for the dramatic spike? Some people say Justin Bieber had something to do with it: In 2015, he released his music video for "I'll Show You," which shows him walking around and looking moody in what was once a hidden gem of Iceland.

But the pop star doesn't deserve all the blame. Iceland's overall number of foreign visitors quadrupled between 2010 and 2017, thanks in part to cheap airfare and innovative tourism campaigns. Fjaðrárgljúfur is just one example of how the small island nation has struggled to accommodate the influx of tourists.

"It's just a natural wonder that wasn't meant to be that popular," Inga Hlin Palsdottir, the director of Iceland's tourism agency, told CNN Travel. "We need to build a better infrastructure there so we can invite people all year round."

In the springtime, the ice and snow in Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon thaw, leaving trails wet and muddy. Not only is this dangerous for hikers, but it makes the canyon more vulnerable to the dangers of constant foot traffic.

After the canyon has a few months to recover, it will open back up to tourists in time for the busy summer season. If you're planning a trip to Iceland before then, there are plenty of sites to check out that are just as impressive.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

Write a Letter to Shakespeare’s Juliet for a Chance to Spend Valentine’s Day in Her Romantic Verona Home

Airbnb
Airbnb

Shakespeare didn’t specify which luxurious Italian estate was home to Juliet and her family in Romeo and Juliet, but hopeless romantics have linked a certain 13th-century house in Verona to the Capulets for many years. A balcony was even added during the 20th century to mirror the famous scene from Shakespeare’s play.

Now, Airbnb is offering one pair of star-crossed lovers the opportunity to stay in the house for Valentine’s Day. To apply, you have to write a letter to Juliet explaining why you and your sweetheart would be the ideal guests for the one-night getaway. The winner will be chosen by the Juliet Club, an organization responsible for answering the 50,000 letters addressed to Juliet each year.

juliet's house in verona, italy
Airbnb

If you’re chosen, you won’t just get to spend the evening reenacting the few happy parts of Romeo and Juliet—you’ll also be treated to a candlelight dinner with a cooking demonstration by Michelin-starred Italian chef Giancarlo Perbellini, access to a personal butler for the duration of your stay, tours of both the house and the city of Verona, and the chance to read and answer some letters sent to Juliet. Even the bed you’ll sleep in is especially romantic—it’s the one used in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

juliet's house in verona, italy
Airbnb

juliet's house in verona, italy
Airbnb

And, of course, you’ll be giving yourself the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift: Freedom from the pressure to plan a perfect Valentine’s Day. The contest is open now through February 2, 2020, and you can apply here.

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We’re Lovin’ the McSki, Sweden’s Ski-Thru McDonald’s

Per-Olof Forsberg, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Per-Olof Forsberg, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Gliding down the slopes for a few hours can leave you happily exhausted and so ravenous that you wish you could stuff a big, juicy burger in your mouth before you even get back to the lodge. At one Swedish ski resort, you can.

Lindvallen, a ski resort located approximately 200 miles northwest of Stockholm, is home to the McSki, a quaint, wood-paneled McDonald’s that you simply ski right up to. If all the surrounding snow leaves you with a hankering for a McFlurry, have at it; Delish reports that you can order anything from the regular McDonald’s menu. (Having said that, we can’t promise the McFlurry machine will actually be working.)

The ski-thru window is ideal for skiers and snowboarders who don’t want to break for a lengthy lunch, but there’s an option for people who would rather not scarf down a combo meal while standing up: According to the blog Messy Nessy, the indoor seating area can accommodate up to 140 people.

The McSki has been delighting (and nourishing) vacationers since it opened in 1996, and it’s definitely a must-visit for ski lovers and fast food aficionados alike. It’s not, however, the strangest McDonald’s restaurant in the world. New Zealand built one inside an airplane, and there’s also a giant Happy Meal-shaped McDonald’s in Dallas. Explore 10 other downright bizarre McDonald’s locations here.

[h/t Delish]

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