Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Edinburgh’s Ecclesiastical Highlights

St. Paul's and St. George's Church, Edinburgh, ScotlandEdinburgh, Scotland, was built to last. I’ve never seen a sturdier-looking city, as if nothing could ever destroy it (even though the Vikings, English, and Germans have all tried). Woven into its architectural fabric, I found a tremendous collection of some of the most beautiful bank buildings in Scotland as well as many stunning churches. These houses of worship date back centuries, and many of their towers and spires still serve as both a call to worship and a helpful visual orientation to this city’s wonderful skyline, in both New Town and Old Town. Read about the top five churches in Edinburgh >

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Big or Small, Amsterdam’s Museums Are Among the World’s Finest

Tulip Museum, Amsterdam, the NetherlandsWhen I found myself finally able to turn away from Amsterdam’s irresistible canals and canal houses, gorgeous churches, inviting parks, and romantic bridges, or when I was simply faced with a rainy Dutch day, I turned my attention to the city’s museums. About 75 museums scattered around the capital of the Netherlands appeal to a very broad audience, no matter what your interest. From major art and history museums to those with a very specialized focus (say, for instance, diamonds, Heineken, or hash, marijuana, and hemp), these cultural institutions should play a major role in your visit here, but with so many choices, you’ll have to select carefully. Read about the top five museums in Amsterdam >


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Hidden Jewels Far From Croatia’s Coast in the City of Varaždin

Keglevic Palace, Varazdin, CroatiaWhether you’re traveling by car, bus, foot, or sailboat, the spectacular coast of Croatia, with its beaches, islands, and coastal cities and towns will etch its way into your memory as one of the most beautiful spots in Europe. But I also wanted to see the interior of the country, where the vibe is decidedly un-Mediterranean and you know you’re in Central Europe. That meant time in Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and a day trip to the lovely city of Varaždin. A two-hour train ride from the capital affords views of the countryside and the occasional pheasant wandering by. Once I arrived here, however, it was all about the flowers and parks as well as a wonderful collection of baroque and rococo architecture. Read more about the top five buildings in Varaždin >


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The Five Most Beautiful Churches in London, England

St. Lawrence Jewry, London, EnglandMy first trip to London was back in 1997, when I was covering a conference about corporate image. Wisely, I added a few days onto that business trip for myself. Of course, that wasn’t enough time to explore one of the world’s greatest cities, even if I was trying to limit myself to, say, museums or markets or the theater. Although the tube is a terrifically convenient mode of transportation to reach so many sights, London was made for walking, the best way to experience England’s biggest and best city. Even on my more recent trip to the British capital, I never knew what I’d stumble upon, from rows of bookstores to a museum of clocks. History seems to abound on every street, kept visible by the city’s fantastic architecture, in particular its churches. Read about the top five churches in London >


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Memorials to Remember

Civil Rights Memorial, Montgomery, AlabamaOn the last Monday of every May, Americans celebrate Memorial Day, a national observance of the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. military. Of course, other countries have their own version of this day, and throughout the world you’ll see memorials dedicated to those who have fought for their country. Although war seems to be the most popular subject, it doesn’t hold a monopoly on memorials, which could commemorate anything from a famous leader to a national movement. Read about the top five memorials >


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Nature and Art Blend Perfectly at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MichiganI had spent a fair amount of time walking around Heritage Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan, one of the most beautiful historic districts in the United States, before heading downtown for a phenomenal dinner at San Chez Bistro. Over drinks with some locals, I was encouraged to visit Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, only five miles away. The following day, I took their advice. I was extremely glad that I did. Read more >


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Five Fantastic Fountains in Rome

Fountain of Felice's Water, Rome, ItalyI was exploring the capital of Italy before continuing on to Malta during a perfectly pleasant spring week. In this beautiful, noisy, crowded, stunning, ancient, endlessly rewarding city, filled with iconic structures, countless places to enjoy simple yet wonderful food, and far too many Vespas, there’s always something fascinating to see, no matter where you look. One of the most enchanting attractions is the city’s fountains, whether they’re of the massive monumental order that have become must-see destinations or simpler ones that brighten up a piazza or an intersection. Read more about the top five fountains in Rome >