Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Coursing Through the Heart of Belfast: Donegall Square

Scottish Provident Building, Belfast, IrelandWith “the Troubles” apparently — and hopefully — relegated to the history books, a day trip to Belfast now seemed necessary during my three-week jaunt around Ireland. Just a two-hour train ride north from Dublin, the capital of Northern Ireland has settled into a peaceful, bustling center of activity. The heart of the city beats in and around Donegall Square, a concentration of fantastic buildings, monuments, and green space, and a wonderful place to wander around when the clouds part. Read more >

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Turku Castle Reigns Supreme

Turku Castle, Turku, FinlandFinland’s oldest city and its former capital, Turku is located about two hours by train from where I was staying in Helsinki, the superior Hotel Kämp. The country’s sixth-largest city has plenty to see for a full day trip, from its 700-year-old cathedral to a fantastic museum built over a 14th-century archaeological site, but Turku’s most famous landmark is the one I wanted to visit most — the largest castle in Finland. Read more >


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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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Venetian All Stars at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

The Miracle of Manna

The Miracle of Manna, circa 1577, is one of Tintoretto’s masterful oil paintings covering the ceiling.

A chance sighting of an advertisement for an upcoming concert in Venice prompted me to spontaneously purchase a ticket. Simple enough. But when the evening of the concert arrived, I ended up in one of the most lavish interiors in one of my favorite cities, surrounded by incomparable works of art by one of my favorite artists (a Venetian native), listening to my favorite piece of classical music (by another Venetian native) being performed by a Venetian ensemble. Such buona fortuna is a traveler’s coveted nirvana, a rarely achieved alignment of all the right stars that I still treasure. Read more about it >


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Ljubljana’s Very Special Circular Square

Triple Bridge, LjubljanaIt may not be able to boast the size of Red Square in Moscow or Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the unending urban pulse of Times Square in New York, or the fame of London’s Trafalgar Square, but for pure charm and visual appeal, Prešeren Square in the heart of Ljubljana, Slovenia, ranks among the best. There’s something here for everyone, no matter what your interests — history, food, nature, romance, architecture, shopping, religion. It’s the de facto meeting point for the city’s residents and visitors alike, whether they’re here to attend a festival or a political rally, meet friends or a date, or just stop and rest for a bit in an utterly engaging space and admire one of the world’s top five bridges. Read more about why you should spend some time here >


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The Best of Zagreb, Croatia

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb, CroatiaWith good reason, visitors to Croatia flock to and concentrate on its gorgeous Adriatic coast and such unmistakable cities as Split and Dubrovnik. But there’s more to this country than its enviable coastline, verdant islands, and pristine beaches. A simple detour east brings you to Zagreb, one of the most underrated capitals in Europe and one of its most surprising. Read more about the top five things to see and do in Zagreb >


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A Home for War Blimps: Tillamook Air Museum, Oregon

Tillamook Air Museum, Tillamook, OregonToday, the only time you’re likely to see a zeppelin is when it’s hovering over a football game or a parade, advertising Goodyear, for instance, or MetLife. But not that long ago, zeppelins were being touted as the next big thing in travel. A little disaster called the Hindenburg almost single-handedly sent that idea up in smoke. Zeppelins continued to be of great importance to the military, however, and the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon provides a fascinating look at a massive World War II blimp hangar and what it meant to the defense of the United States during the war. Read more >