Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Capital Ideas for a Great Time in Albany, New York

Washington Park, Albany, New YorkEven though I live only a few hours south of my state capital, I never got around to seeing it until I decided to go on an in-state vacation and check out some of what New York State offers north of the Bronx. My first stop was Albany, a city with more than 400 years of history behind it. That lengthy existence brings with it plenty of diversions and attractions, from shockingly beautiful churches to Hudson River views, from memorable meals and museums to tranquil parks. Read about the top five things to see and do in Albany >


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Bed and Dinner in Lisbon

Taberna 132, Lisbon, PortugalIn the popular Baixa neighborhood of Lisbon, Portugal, menus come in up to 12 languages and staff try to lure you into the touristy restaurants as you walk by. Fortunately, Taberna 132 wasn’t as aggressive, and the outdoor seating was inviting. It also just happened to be on the ground floor of my accommodations, Behotelisboa, and after a full day of exploring this exhaustingly hilly city, the thought of just retiring upstairs for the night after dinner made it even more appealing. Read about it >


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One Columbus Day

Broad Street United Methodist Church, Columbus, OhioColumbus’ earliest structures are the burial mounds of the indigenous peoples. Things have certainly changed since they occupied this area smack in the middle of Ohio from 1000 B.C. to 1700. Since 1812, the population of the state capital has grown every decade, unlike other large Ohio cities like Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo. With a population of over 900,000, it’s the largest city in Ohio. That means it needs a lot of buildings to conduct its business and house its citizens, and I had the opportunity to check out many of them during my one day here. Read about the top five buildings in Columbus, Ohio >


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Gazebo Gazing

Pedro St. James, Grand CaymanThey come in many shapes, sizes, materials, and colors, but gazebos share lots of commonalities, all of which appeal to me. They offer shelter from rain or sizzling sunshine. They’re a pleasant place to rest. They often take advantage of dreamy or dramatic views. They can double as bandstands during outdoor parties and celebrations. And, well, they’re just plain pretty to look at. Read about the top five gazebos >


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Amazing Architecture Among the Alps

Collegiate Church, Salzburg, AustriaFamed for the splendor of its over-the-top baroque and rococo churches and palaces, Austria has an embarrassment of riches of these spectacular buildings, constructed over decades and decades, until the 20th century came along and architects began rejecting the high ornamentation of these styles. But I wasn’t visiting this central European country to see boring boxy buildings; I went to see gorgeous valleys and mountain ranges, tranquil lakes, and, in the cities, the grandeur of the long-lost art of beautiful, meaningful architecture. Read about the top five buildings in Austria >


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Baptismal Fonts That Make a Memorable Splash

St. Francis Xavier Church, St. Louis, MissouriBaptism is the first step to becoming a Christian. In fact, it grants admission into the Church. It’s usually accompanied during a religious service with a sprinkling of water on the forehead, but sometimes it involves a full-body immersion. Whichever method is used, churches around the world accommodate it with a variety of baptismal fonts, from the modest to the mammoth, and I’ve found many of them to be striking works of art. Read about the top five baptismal fonts >


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Germany’s Glorious Churches

Church of Our Lady, Munich, GermanyNo matter where I went in Germany, a church steeple or spire always seemed to be above me. With nearly 50,000 churches spread out across the country, that’s easy to understand. From charming mountain-town churches to tremendous city cathedrals, these striking buildings have added style and beauty to their surroundings for centuries. Read about the top five churches in Germany >


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A Gem of a Desert Camp Near Namibia’s Jewel of a Park

Mushara Bush Camp, NamibiaYou’ve spent a full day in Namibia’s extraordinary Etosha National Park. You’ve chuckled as helmeted guinea fowl fly low across the road ahead of you. You’ve spied lilac-breasted rollers streak across the sky, giraffes necking, zebras trotting alongside your car, lionesses resting under a tree, and oryx grazing on barren landscapes. You’ve watched the unfolding action at a watering hole, when everybody from elephants and elands to pied crows gather for a drink. And now you need some rest and refreshment. You’ll find it in wonderful abundance at Mushara Bush Camp, just a few miles outside the eastern entrance of the park. And you’ll love every minute of it. Read about it >


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Standing Tall: The World’s Best Columns

Illyrian Column, Ljubljana, SloveniaThey’re Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, smooth or fluted, singular or clustered. Their capitals can resemble anything from acanthus leaves to volutes. And when they’re not supporting entire buildings, giving the appearance of such on a building’s façade, or forming an arcade, columns often sprout up as stand-alone structures. These engaging specimens of verticality, whether they’re slender or bold, have always caught my eye (whether or not I’m able to climb to their tops). Read about the world’s top five columns >


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Which Last Suppers Are First?

Last Supper, National Museum, Warsaw, PolandAs Easter approaches, Christianity’s most important holidays and events unfold at a breakneck pace: Jesus’ Condemnation, Crucifixion, Disposition, and Entombment (all represented in the Stations of the Cross), and Resurrection. It all starts with the Last Supper, when Jesus gathered his 12 Apostles for a final meal, called out Peter as His soon-to-be denier, and basically let Judas identify himself as His imminent betrayer. For centuries, this momentous meal has been captured in art, and I’ve seen it depicted in all kinds of media around the world. Read about the top five depictions of the Last Supper >