Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Oceanside Luxury in Swakopmund, Namibia

Strand Hotel, Swakopmund, NamibiaEnticingly comfortable rooms and luxurious suites, with satellite TV and Wi-Fi, proper tea service, great air conditioning, and well-designed bathrooms. Three restaurants, a lobby bar, and a beer garden. Relaxing lounges. Private parking. Superior staff and knowledgeable activities directors. Gym and full-service spa. It could be a list of requirements from guests at hotels in the world’s most-visited cities. But this is not New York, for example, or Tokyo. This is Swakopmund, Namibia, and you’ve just checked in to the Strand Hotel, a fine four-star hotel with gorgeous nightly sunsets and just about everything you could possibly want in a hotel. Read more >

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Cuban Food in a Very American City

Alma de Cuba, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaAfter spending the day walking around the streets of the quintessential American city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, exploring key American sites like Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin’s grave, and the Liberty Bell, I headed to dinner at a restaurant located in a very American-looking three-story Federal-style townhouse, painted a soft pastel yellow. Was my dinner traditional American? Nope. It was Cuban. And it was delicious. Read more about Alma de Cuba >


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First-rate Dining Along the Royal Route in Warsaw, Poland

There are plenty of dining options along Krakowskie Przedmieście, one of the main tourist strips in Warsaw, Poland, some more touristy than others. One that is more favored by locals is Restauracja Kultura, housed on the ground floor of Kino Kultura, one of Warsaw’s best-known cinemas. Restauracja Kultura is the perfect destination for dinner after you’ve just attended a screening here, or if you’re merely wandering down the old Royal Route on your way from the Royal Castle or checking out the U.S.–Polish exhibits across the street. Whatever the reason for finding this restaurant, you’ll be very glad you chose it for your evening meal. Read more >


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Amsterdam’s Most Beautiful Churches

Vondel Church, Amsterdam, NetherlandsThe canal houses tend to get all the attention in Amsterdam, and with good reason. It’s impossible to resist the charms of these slender homes that line, sometimes a little drunkenly, the calm canals lacing through the city. But the capital of the Netherlands boasts some pretty impressive buildings of a much larger scale, such as its Royal Palace, one of the world’s most beautiful train stations, and one of the world’s top five post office buildings (which now operates as a shopping mall). Many of the city’s gorgeous houses of worship are of substantial size, too, and their spires and domes can be spotted rising above the canal houses all over town. Read about the top five churches in Amsterdam >


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Quiet Luxury in the Polish Capital

Hotel Bellotto, Warsaw, PolandEven though it’s one of the premiere hotels in Warsaw, Poland, it sounds Italian — and with good reason. Hotel Bellotto was named after Bernardo Bellotto, the Venetian artist who spent the last 20 years of his life in Poland, unwittingly playing a critical role in the rebuilding of Warsaw after nearly the entire city was destroyed during World War II, long after he died in 1780. Today, the five-star hotel’s name pays homage to this critical player in Warsaw’s rebirth while providing exceptionally wonderful services and luxurious rooms. Read more about it >


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Drinking Your Way Around Mendoza, Argentina

The Argentinean wine industry has been around for a few centuries, thanks in large part to Italian immigrants, but it wasn’t until very recently, in the 1990s, that it really took off and became a global player, bolstered by the region’s production of rich Malbec. Today, nearly 1,000 winery estates, or fincas, spread out around the city of Mendoza at the foot of the Andes Mountains. One of the best ways to experience these fincas and sample their output is to leave the driving to someone else. So, with my private driver, Pablo, at the wheel, I headed out on an increasingly intoxicated road trip. Read more >


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The Firehouses That Burn the Brightest

Jasper Fire Hall, Jasper, AlbertaThe word “hero” is employed far too often to describe someone who simply does his or her job, or someone you might have a shred of admiration for. In fact, the word is quite in danger of verbicide. The shortstop who makes a great catch is not a hero; your favorite reality star is certainly not a hero. In a world that is seriously lacking in true heroes, it’s heartening to know that there is one group that deservedly earns the accolade every day: firefighters. And societies have acknowledged their selfless bravery and critical role by constructing some highly impressive buildings for them from which they perform their duties. Read about the world’s top five firehouses >