What was once a temple dedicated to the Classical Gods, the Pantheon (A derivation of the Greek words 'pan' meaning all and 'theos' meaning God) is now a 2000 year old church, a conversion which, excuse my joke, our current government would not really approve of. Despite a dull and ageing exterior with its giant Corinthian columns, this monument will delight you the moment you step through the humongous bronze doors and look at the largest and probably the most beautiful reinforced concrete dome in the world. It might interest you to know that both light which marks an emblematic connection with the Gods and rainwater can seep through the oculus of the dome and there are 22 invisible holes in the sloping marble floor to drain the water away. And we consider ourselves advanced! The Pantheon will disappoint you first and then suddenly mesmerize you, also because one of the greatest artists to have ever lived, Raphael, is buried here. Getting there: If in case you are not living near the Centro Storico area which is walking distance from the Pantheon on Piazza della Rotonda, taking the underground metro is the best idea because it is faster and cheaper. The tickets come for about 1.5 Euros and can be bought from the several machines or ticketing counters at the station. Your stop is 'Spagna' along the A Line and the Pantheon is a bit of a walk, about a kilometre from the station. Beware of pickpockets on the train. You could even take a bus from the Termini Station. Pantheon is open from 8:30 am till 7:30 in the evening and the entry is absolutely free.
Grand Teton National Park
Now that I’ve missed 80% of the park because it was closed due to winter, I’ve decided to visit the park in every season. Next stop winter 2014. After almost getting a speeding ticket, I drove through Idaho. It’s quite beautiful even at night and almost near Jackson during the dead of the night I got the first and only glimpse of Grant Tetons
Grizzly Lake Trail
The hike starts with a hill to the left and plains to the right (or should I say wetlands). Much of the trail itself was a sort of rudimentary stream, shallow and crystal clear with a pebble bottom. Because of this you spend most of the first part of the hike walking in mushy grass and avoiding bison dung. All along the trail were a single pair of bison prints, possible some lone male in search of greener pastures. Occasionally we would see wolf scat,wolf prints and at least one large blackbear print. The ground was also littered with obsidian, starting with a huge glimmering boulder of pure obsidian sticking out of the trail, later with an even larger one in the field, and from then on, obsidian shards riddle the trail and ground all the way to the lake. After hiking about a mile or 2 in, we came to a creek, swollen and white, though not too deep or fast to cross. We were dedicated to continuing our hike so we found the most narrow part we could, about 50 yards south of the trail, and “jumped” across. Naturally being too wide to actually jump, we just ended up mostly soaked and were now apparently on an island with another larger creek still to cross. We walked back up the island towards the trail till we found a log and walked across that precariously, of course having take photos of our “daring” moment. From then on the hike was mostly up and down small hills, rocky and open with random small trees and signs of animals
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Jackson Hole is an epic mountain, there’s no question about it. It was even crowned the best ski resort in the USA two years in a row by Christopher Steiner in his top five list for Forbes. Not being trusting of lists that are based purely on statistics (as Steiner’s is), Emilie and I visited Jackson Hole in mid-December to test out our new gear judge for ourselves whether the hill actually offers the best skiing experience in America. Jackson Hole is certainly friendly. Although Teton Village is a fairly run-of-the-mill manufactured village of condos and shops for visitors, the town of Jackson is a real western small town with a wonderful neighbourly feel to it. When our only car key snapped because of the cold, about seven different random strangers helped us in the space of 24 hours to get the car moved to our hotel and a new key made. Jackson Hole’s 2500 acres certainly contain a wide variety of terrain. However, with 50% expert terrain and 40% intermediate, Jackson Hole is definitely a hill better suited to experienced skiers and snowboarders. The restaurants in Jackson are world class. I had the best steak of my life in The Cellar and the Mangy Moose on the hill is well-known for it’s awesome apres ski activities. In fact, nearly every meal we ate there was surprising in one way or another. We only found two things that may negatively impact visitor experience: price and convenience. Located in western Wyoming, far from any major centre, Jackson Hole is in a very inconvenient location. The isolation adds to it’s charm, but also increases the hassle of visiting. And, although there are budget options, most of the restaurants and hotels cater to visitors with a lot of money to blow on their vacation. People visiting Jackson Hole with limited funds will find themselves… well…limited.