Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Remember More Than the Alamo in San Antonio

Japanese Tea Garden, San Antonio, TexasThe crowds swamping the little Alamo in downtown San Antonio, Texas, seemed torn between visiting the historic mission and the cheesy attractions directly across the street from it. I opted for the former, but not for long. The city boasts so many other fascinating things to see that you’ll soon be bolting away from the tourist mob and investigating its lesser-visited but no-less-interesting sights. Read about the top five things to see and do in San Antonio >


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The Best Churches in Kansas

St. Peter's Cathedral, Kansas City, KansasTraveling around the eastern half of Kansas, I found that there always seemed to be a church steeple on the horizon somewhere, whether popping up over a small town or making up a key element of an urban skyline. Like tempting beacons, I was lured to them and was never disappointed by their beauty, and by the surprises they contained. Read about the top five churches in Kansas >


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Walking in Memphis

Calvary Episcopal Church, Memphis, TennesseeOne-hit wonder Marc Cohn’s earworm stayed with me as I explored Tennessee’s second-largest city. At least it’s a song I like, and it provided a tuneful background in my head. Although I didn’t follow the ghost of Elvis up to the gates of Graceland, I did trace the footsteps of countless musicians who trod Beale Street, capped by a satisfying lunch of fried green tomatoes and a catfish po’ boy at B.B. King’s Blues Club. In addition to its musical heritage, Memphis has an impressive array of architecture, from one of the world’s largest pyramids to a hotel that features a daily duck walk. Read about the top five buildings in Memphis, Tennessee >


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Unique Churches in Unique Venice

Church of St. Zachary, Venice, ItalyWhenever you cross one of Venice’s more than 400 bridges over its placid canals, you’ll catch sight of one of the city’s nearly 140 churches. They come in all shapes and sizes, from massive cathedrals to smaller parish churches. Most are Roman Catholic, but you can find a few for other denominations, such as the Greek Orthodox church with its leaning tower. And, while Saint Mark’s Basilica is the biggest draw, it’s often the less-visited churches that brandish the best surprises. Read about the top five churches in Venice, Italy >


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Four Centuries of Churches in Delaware

First and Central Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DelawareSince the 1600s, religion has played an active role in the state of Delaware. Over time, log and wood structures that served as houses of worship morphed into more substantial brick and stone buildings. Steeped in history, these churches were often the hub of not only religious activities but also social life. Read about the top five churches in Delaware >


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Living Under a Foreign Occupier

Phone Booth, Museum of Occupations, Tallinn, EstoniaIn light of Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, I’ve been thinking about my visit to the Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom in Tallinn, Estonia. Note the plural. This fascinating museum tells the story of how little Estonia was forcibly occupied three times in the 1900s—once by the Nazis and twice by the Soviets—and how it emerged as sovereign nation in 1991. It’s a timely lesson in heartless brutality and inspiring resistance, and a good reminder of how one insane madman can change world history—and what must be done to stop him. Read about the museum >


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The Best Museums in the U.S. Capital

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C.Most national capitals are their nation’s largest city. The American capital is a bit of an anomaly: Washington, D.C., doesn’t even crack the top 15. Yet, despite its comparatively smaller size, it has an embarrassment of riches, including more than 70 museums. Covering a wide array of topics, they can entertain and inform you on everything from art to postage stamps to espionage. Read more about the top five museums in Washington, D.C. >


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On the Wall

One of the world’s great fortified cities, Dubrovnik, Croatia, is unforgettable, from your arrival there to every moment you spend sheltered within the impressive defensive walls of the Old Town, drinking fine Croatian red wine, exploring ancient churches, admiring unique doorways, and popping into one of its museums. To get a different perspective of this unmistakable city, I went upstairs and took a 1.2-mile walk atop the walls that kept Dubrovnik safe for centuries. Read about it >


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Malbork Castle Will Hit You Like 10,125 Tons of Bricks

Malbork Castle, Malbork, PolandAs soon as I learned about the major attraction in Malbork, Poland, I knew I had to take a side trip from my base in Gdansk, an hour to the northwest by train. I couldn’t resist seeing the largest brick structure ever built—Malbork Castle. At the size of about 40 U.S. football fields and with its oldest parts going back to the 1200s, this massive complex had the sudden and significant impact on me that its statistics assured me it would. Read more about Malbork Castle >


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Denmark’s Five Best Churches

Holmen Church, Copenhagen, DenmarkWhen it comes to castles, Denmark is one of my favorite European nations, whether they’re watching over the coastline or dropped smack in the middle of the capital city. When it comes to churches, however, Denmark has some serious competition from its European neighbors. Despite that, this little nation of just under six million people has constructed some spectacular churches. Too bad only 3 percent of the population regularly attends services; they’re missing out on surrounding themselves with beauty. Read about the top five churches in Denmark >