Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Peeping Into Kitchens and Hiding From the Soviets in Tallinn’s Kiek in de Kök

Kiek in de Kok, Tallinn, EstoniaDeclared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia, survives as one of Europe’s best preserved medieval fortifications. I was completely enchanted by its beautiful churches, cobblestone streets, old merchant houses, and medieval gates around its perimeter. The city’s most distinctive feature — the defensive wall around it — incorporates a couple of dozen towers. One particular tower, Kiek in de Kök, boasts an unusually wild history. In the 16th century, soldiers joked that they could look through the windows on the top level into the kitchens of the homes beneath them, and, in the 20th century, criminals and punk rockers could flee from police during the Soviets’ crushing 50-year-hold on Estonia in the tunnels underneath the tower. Read more >


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Party of Five: The Best Plazas in Mendoza, Argentina

Plaza Independencia, Mendoza, ArgentinaRenowned as a base for some unparalleled hiking opportunities in the Andes Mountains and for the vineyards surrounding it that produce, among other wines, the full-bodied Malbec, the city of Mendoza in western Argentina shouldn’t be overlooked as a destination in and of itself — and I’m glad I devoted some time to staying in town. In many ways, such as its abundance of sidewalk trees, it’s like no other city in Argentina. One of its delightful highlights are the five plazas in the heart of Mendoza — an X-shaped arrangement of green oases in a city that’s already fairly leafy. Each one of this quintet of plazas honors a key player, whether it’s a person or a country, in the nation’s history, and each is chock full of attractions that impressed me with its beauty and thoughtfulness. Read more >


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When Orange Is More Than Your Morning Juice

Puente del Inca, ArgentinaFor those of us who live in certain climates, autumn brings a joyful change of season, when comfortably brisk days replace oppressive summer heat, and green foliage gives way to all-too-brief displays of flashy colors — especially a vibrant orange. If you don’t reside in a locale that’s blessed with this annual switch, you can get your fix of orange with an intricately carved jack-o-lantern or a Cincinnati Bengals game. And if you’re not privy to any of this, there are still plenty of oranges around the world that will capture your attention. Read more about my top five oranges >


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What Lies Beneath Seattle, Washington

Seattle Underground, Seattle, WashingtonA forgotten but not-so-secret city wound its way under my feet in Seattle. I didn’t know it existed, but my first hint that something lurked below was the small and thick amethyst-hued squares of glass embedded in the sidewalks around Pioneer Square. I found myself wondering what purpose they served. When I discovered that they were skylights for an underground city, I simply had to know more. Fortunately, there’s an exceptionally popular tour that explains all the mysteries. Read more >


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The Best Clocks in the World Tell More Than Time

Holy Spirit Church clock, Tallinn, EstoniaWhen you fall back this weekend, take a good look at the clock or wristwatch you’re adjusting. Is it a strictly functional device that displays the inexorable march of time? Or is it a work of art? Clocks have come a long way since sundials and do more than merely inform you that you have arrived early at an airport or overslept again. The best ones also tell great stories — or have great stories told about them. Read more about the top five clocks in the world >


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East Meets West at Khazana in Edmonton, Alberta

My third gray, drizzly, chilly day in Edmonton, Alberta, took a delightfully warm and colorful turn when I opened the door to Khazana. Consistently ranked as one of the best Indian restaurants in Alberta’s capital, Khazana (which means “treasure”) captures the timeless spirit of India through both its décor that combines traditional and modern and its outstanding menu of the finest the subcontinent has to offer. Bolstered by polite and flawless service, this fine-dining establishment creates a culinary experience of unmatched authenticity. Read more >


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Navigating Your Way Through the Largest Art Museum in the United States

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkIf you’ve ever visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, you know it is the leading art museum in the city, the largest in the United States, and one of the best in the world. If you’ve never been there, here’s a tip: Do not try to see it all in one day. You will fail. Its collection of every kind of art, from paintings, photographs, sculptures, and ivory carvings, to jewelry, musical instruments, Fabergé eggs, and samurai swords, is far too deep to conquer in one visit. Instead, pick a few things you’re particularly interested in and save the rest for another time—and be prepared to walk a few miles within the museum itself. Still too overwhelming? Then read about the top five things you must see and do >