Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Bodies of Work

Jenners Department Store, Edinburgh, ScotlandIf you feel like the weight of the world is sometimes pressing down on you, imagine if an actual building were doing the same thing. Since the sixth century BC in ancient Greece, stone women have been supporting entablatures on their heads; their male counterparts came along a little later, in the Greek cities in Sicily and southern Italy. These caryatids and atlantids not only served a practical function, as a column or pillar to support the weight of a structure, but they also added impressive panache. Read about the top five atlantids and caryatids >


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No Need to Go Far in Fargo

Great Northern Railway Depot, Fargo, North DakotaI was ending my two-week trip around the Dakotas with a one-day stop in Fargo. It didn’t seem a sufficient amount of time for North Dakota’s most populous city, but, fortunately, most of the highlights—including its most beautiful buildings—are located in a fairly concentrated area of one square mile. Read about the top five buildings in Fargo, North Dakota >


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A Festive Day in Lindsborg, Kansas, Is “Lagom”

Dala horseFestivals are one of the best ways to spend your time outdoors when traveling. You’ll experience a locale at its most joyous, most authentic, and most relaxed, and you’ll have ample opportunities to mingle with the locals. Case in point: a two-day celebration of Swedish culture in the U.S. Midwest called Svensk Hyllningsfest. In Lindsborg, Kansas, you’ll get to meet the friendly residents while experiencing the richness of Sweden that has been the hallmark of this small city since the mid-1800s. At the end of the festival, you’ll say that it was lagom—not too little, not too much, but just the perfect amount. Read more about it >


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Mangia in One of Little Italy’s Best Restaurants

Tables at Da Nico Ristorante, New York CityNew York’s Little Italy needs help. Slammed by COVID-19 travel restrictions that clobbered its all-critical tourist trade, as well as by neighboring Chinatown’s typhonic expansionism, Little Italy has been shrinking for decades. Now concentrated along Mulberry, Mott, and Grand streets, Little Italy gets littler by the year. But you can still find the oldest cheese shop in the United States (opened in 1892 and now co-owned by actor Tony Danza), the oldest souvenir and gift store in the neighborhood (since 1910), gelato shops and bakeries, a ravioli and pasta store that’s been around since 1920, and a good number of restaurants. I decided to show some love, and financial support, to Da Nico Ristorante, a family business that owns and operates a kitchen where your nonna would be completely comfortable. Read more about it >


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Croatia’s Choicest Churches

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Varazdin, CroatiaAs I traveled around this Balkan nation, I continuously noted domes and bell towers rising above their shorter neighbors. These telltale signs of religious buildings beckoned me, with their beautiful architecture and their centuries of history, art, legend, lore — and the occasional miracle or two. Read about the top five churches in Croatia >


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This Place Is for the Birds

Quite literally, Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre in New Zealand is a home for our feathered friends. Along with a selection of reptiles, invertebrates, and aquatic creatures, birds have found a mostly predator-free place to thrive. At Pūkaha, conservation and education efforts have been bringing threatened species into the consciousness of visitors for more than 50 years. And they do it in a delightful way to keep you thoroughly entertained. Read more about it >


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How Great Thou Arch

Queenstown War Memorial, New ZealandThey seem simple: vertical curved structures that span an open space and may, or may not, support weight above it. Of course, arches are much more complicated than that, a complex balance of compression, stress, thrust, bracings, and transference. The Mesopotamians got the jump on them four thousand years ago, but it was the Romans who used them systematically in a wide range of structures, leading eventually to a worldwide adaptation of this most beautiful form. Read about the top five arches >


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Ties to Thais

Thai Farm Kitchen, New York CityNew York’s South Street Seaport used to teem with the arrival of imports from faraway nations and of immigrants ready to start a new life in the New World. Hammered by the collapse of New York’s shipping industry starting in the 1950s, the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the economic devastation wreaked by COVID-19 in 2020–21, the Seaport has seen its fortunes rise and fall. This resilient district is now rising again, and it still attracts international crowds, especially in its food scene, ranging from Irish pubs to Japanese sushi restaurants. One such standout is Thai Farm Kitchen, which sources its flavorful ingredients not only from new organic farmers in the United States, but from its old partners in Thailand. Read about it >


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Unforgettable Café Culture Experiences

Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaYou’re ready to start your day with a light breakfast. Or you’ve been working your way through the morning sights and need a little midday nourishment. Or you’re up for a late evening cup of coffee and something sweet. No matter what time of day, a welcoming café invites you in with a tempting menu and a closer look at local customs, and the best ones do it in fine style. Read about the top five cafés >


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Crossing Paths With Swiss Crosses

Lausanne Cathedral, SwitzerlandAlthough freedom of religion is a fundamental right in Switzerland, enshrined in its constitution, the number of people employing that freedom continues to plummet. More than one-quarter of all Swiss have no religious affiliation (compared to a negligible 1 percent in 1970). Those who do, no matter what their denomination, have strayed from regularly attending services today. Yet they can still look back at what their more devout ancestors left behind—a legacy of beautiful churches that used to be the core of their societies. Read about the top five churches in Switzerland >