Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Opa! It Will Be All Greek to You at Poros in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Poros, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaGiven the diversity of dining options in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — Polish, Thai, German, Peruvian, Italian, and so on — deciding on where to have dinner becomes a perplexing, but pleasant, problem. And strolling around the weekly farmers market in landmark Market Square, when more than 30 vendors purvey a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, fresh-pressed juices, milk, cheese, honey, and breads, will certainly put you in a gastronomic frame of mind. You can act immediately on that particular mental state without leaving the square by settling in for dinner at Poros, a stylish Greek estiatorio that’s a fine credit to its culture. Read more >

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The Deceptive Beauty of Oslo’s City Hall

City Hall, Oslo, NorwayEvery now and then, you will find a reason to visit a city hall other than to, say, pick up a marriage license or attend a meeting about your local school system. On such occasions, you may very well be delightfully surprised by what’s in store. The City Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for instance, is a gorgeous building where I had the good fortune to meet the city’s mayor during my visit; Stockholm’s City Hall boasts gorgeous golden mosaics and an unbeatable view of the city from atop its tower. And while the austere exterior of the city hall in Oslo, Norway, may not attract you at first, this city hall is particularly chock full of history, stories, art, and superlatives, which became increasingly apparent to me the closer I got to it. Read more >


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Comfort Food in Council Bluffs, Iowa

After a stroll through Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and a visit at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, I started to search for a spot for lunch, but none were forthcoming in this pleasant residential neighborhood. So, after a tour of the Historic General Dodge House, I asked the staff for a recommendation. Both ladies offered the same suggestion: Dixie Quick’s. Nothing fancy, they said, but high-quality food makes it a popular destination. They turned out to be quite right. Read more >


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Savannah’s Best Buildings in America’s Best Historic District

Savannah Cotton Exchange, Savannah, GeorgiaWith hundreds of buildings in Savannah’s five historic districts, it’s virtually impossible to select some favorites, particularly in the Savannah Historic District, one of the largest such districts in the United States. Within its confines, I came across the birthplace of the founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, one of the South’s first public museums, the oldest African American Baptist congregation in the United States, the house that launched the city’s preservation movement, and the third-oldest synagogue and the oldest standing pre–Civil War rail facility in America. Impressive as they are, even these beauties didn’t emerge as my favorites. Read more about the top five buildings in Savannah, Georgia >


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A Singular Serving of Asian Cuisine in the Heart of New York State

The hemp and granola feel of Ithaca, New York, famous for its colleges, farmers market, outdoorsy predilections, and annual musical Porchfest, was in full swing, with plenty of plaid and skateboarders as well as a handlebar mustache or two. So I was more than a little surprised to stumble upon Mia Tapas Bar & Restaurant, an unexpectedly sophisticated pan-Asian restaurant in the heart of the city and one of Ithaca’s finest — and most creative — establishments. Read more >


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Authenticity Without Pretensions: Creole Serves Up Fantastic Food in St. Kitts

On another perfect Caribbean day in St. Kitts, I hopped in my rental car and headed out from my lodging, the wonderful Ottley’s Plantation Inn, and began the drive on the road that loops around the island, with Cockleshell Beach slated as my final destination. By the time I reached Frigate Bay, the first thought of lunch popped into my head. Two minutes later, I spotted the sign advertising authentic Caribbean and local cuisine at an unpretentious restaurant called Creole. It would turn out to be one of the best meals I had over the course of a week on this verdant island. Read more >


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Life of Signs

Washington, D.C.

#2: Pizza for mathematicians in Washington, D.C.

Many of us often look for some sort of spiritual or mystical sign to guide us. If only I could have a sign that…she’s the right woman to marry, or some probative indication that my deceased friend is resting in peace, or a signal that giving up everything I know to live in Lisbon for a job opportunity is the right thing to do. Sometimes, the signs we’re seeking are more mundane: the exit on an interstate, an advertisement, or the section of a stadium that matches the one printed on our concert ticket. Then there are those that just pop up as you’re going about your day and elicit an appreciative response from you because they’re smart, funny, profound, or clever — and these are the ones that you’ll remember for a long time. Read more about the top five signs >